ourselves and ordered tea and cake. She had picked me up at the airport in London and accompanied me to her favorite “greasy spoon” as she called it.
“All the way from Lehrton, Mississippi, USA. Dr. Nomann sent me himself. He wanted it, demanded it,” I answered. “Besides Zane Hodge, you have risen up the ranks of Big ASS Endurance faster than any other athlete we’ve ever had. Certainly faster than Randy Beets ever did.”
“Speaking of Randy Beets,” she added. “How is the big fella? I hear he’s been sick.”
“That would be a shame,” Annabel threw in. “We don’t make that much as it
Yes, that’s true, but let’s not talk about him. Let’s talk about you, Annabel.”
“Call me Bel, please.”
“OK, Bel. Why not tell your American fans a bit about yourself.”
"I'm 46 years old, a 6ft Amazon with a roar and the heart of a lioness but
am as soft and soppy as a kitten. I work in London as a project manager for
|"Really? I can hurt him?"|
“Wait. Six feet tall. Are you interested in MMA? We are starting a new fight league, the Association of Sports Strikers. It's for endurance athletes who have no previous combat sports experience. There will be a website where the athletes will post their profiles, sort of like Facebook. Instead of sending a friend request, you will sent a fight request. Once several requests are pending, the Association will start working on setting up a fight card. We need some female fighters."
"I don’t know. I’m really not much of a fighter."
"At your height, you might be a good match for an inter-gender bout with Randy Beets."
"Randy Beets? I thought you guys were going to match him with Zane Hodge."
"That was the plan, But his mother, Betty Ryan Beets, is threatening legal action if we do. She's trying to protect her son. We think we could win in court, but Dr. Nomann doesn't want to spend the money or time to clear all the legal hurdles she could throw at us."
"Fight Randy Beets," Bel said lowly, her eyes beginning to gleam. "Yes, I think I would like that. Sign me up. I’ll make an exception in his case ... give him a flipping hiding he won't forget in a hurry.”
"Great. Dr. Nomann will be thrilled. OK. Let's turn the conversation back to you.”
"My family consists of mum, dad, sister, Jane, brother-in-law, Paul, niece,
Mollie, and nephews, Dillon and Sullivan. My best friends are Olivia Gerbi
and Shelley Mitchell both of whom are rare creatures ... my Unicorns. I
am lucky enough to have lots of other wonderful friends too (who I don't
manage to see half as often as I would like because of training). I love my
new swimmie friends and the whole swimming community I have been
introduced to and become part of over the last two years on Facebook. I've
made a point of meeting as many of them as I can and I have to say they're
all as wonderful offline as they are on. I’m really interested in meeting
Randy Beets and Zane Hodge."
"What do you think those meetings, if they were to come to pass, would go
"I’m afraid it might go badly for Beet’s. His arrogance is so annoying I would
most likely knock his block off. As for Mr. Hodge, I can see us taking a long
training swim in a catfish pond. That’s if I go there. If he comes here there
are a number of choice watery venues I would introduce him to like Dover Harbor and some of London's choice lidos."
"Those meetings certainly could happen, especially if you sign with the
Association of Sports Strikers. But enough of that. Back to you."
"When I'm not spending time getting wet, I like to read books, walk in the
forest, sing (I'm a bit of a diva with a microphone), watch TV, learn stuff and
generally relax and lounge about in my PJs and make witty and insightful
comments on Facebook. That’s the kind of stuff I normally do. That and
daydreaming about knocking the crap out of Beets. When do you think we
can have the fight? Can I really hurt the bugger, I mean REALLY hurt him?"
Bel's eyes lit up with glee.
"You can hurt him. First, however, we have to establish the league and get
everything in order. But let’s talk about your swimming. I hear you are going
to swim the Channel. What inspired you to take that on?"
"I decided in July 2013. I had just read about Zane Hodge’s second epic
Chicot Challenge and I was so inspired that I didn’t sleep for a couple days.
I contemplated going to the States and making a similar swim, but then
I thought, ‘I have the Channel right here.’ Besides, if I made a trip to the
America, I might run into Randy Beets and fisticuffs before my swim could
"I know what you mean. It costs Big ASS Endurance a fortune to provide
security when Hodge and Beets compete against each other. We could give
all our athletes a raise if those two just got along."
"Does Randy Beets get along with anybody?"
"Well, now that I think about it, no. He gets along with no one. Anyway, tell
us about your training. What does a typical training week look like for you?"
"I do a lot of Beetsdown training both in the pool and the sea. Plus some dryland"
She then preceeded to jot down her schedule on a napkin:
Monday = rest day (supposedly)
Tuesday = pool swimming (1.5hrs)
Wednesday = ride The Beast
Thursday = Masters (1hr)
Friday = ride The Beast
Saturday = Summer is sea swimming at Dover, Winter lake and/or
Sunday = Summer is sea swimming, Winter is lake and/or pool
She handed me the napkin and then rusumed talking.
"I also walk on a Sunday in the winter and keep aiming to get up
early in the morning a couple of times a week to go out before I leave for
work . . . but it's still an aim to be honest as I really, really, REALLY, am not
a morning person! But I can get up early if I think about going out to bash
the living daylights out of Randy Beets. That gets my heart rate up, and I
become quite purposeful. I also do a few squats, lunges, planks, push-ups
and other lively things throughout the week."
"Tell your fans in America about your recent racing experiences and
"Let's see. I did an English Channel Relay 2012 (sea), 10k Jubilee 2013 (river), Big Cornwall Swims 2013 (1 & 3 miles, sea), Coniston End to End 2013 (5.25 miles, lake), Big Chill Championships 2014 (lake), Henley Bridge to Bridge (14.1k, river) 2014, Cork Distance Week (65k for the week, river, lake, sea) 2014, BLDSA Champion of Champions 2013 (9 miles, although they got the
course wrong and we did 10, sea), RPC House Cup Sports Day - Reynolds
Women's Rowing Team (Gold 2012, 2013, 2014), Egg & Spoon (Silver
2012), Arm Wrestling (Bronze 2012). I also learnt unarmed combat and how
to parachute roll at the age of six ... my thumb is a deadly weapon." *waves
thumb about menacingly*.
"Certainly better than that eejit Randy Beets."
"Heck yeah. Beets can never live long enough to come anywhere near that level of success. How did you get into marathon swimming?"
"I got a new boss who was into it and asked about if anyone fancied swimming a relay across the Channel, and I thought to myself, I can swim a bit, I love the sea, why not! Had some lessons in January 2012 to learn to swim front crawl properly and bob's your uncle! I was into it! I started training more and more inspired by Zane Hodge and dreaming of racing Randy Beets."
"Tell us about your Big ASS experience. How have you liked life in the
"So far it's treated me well ... I'm feeling at home and holding my own I
think ... in fact I seem to be doing quite a few ButtBeets sessions. I was
somewhat irked that Nunnery was crowned "World Champion" sea swimmer
at an event that wasn't open to the rest of the world and was also such a
piddly distance ... but I'm over it now ... *%$^&@@*&^ ASS! Still there's
precedence in America for this type of thing isn't there ... I mean baseball
World Series ... with only American teams???? Honestly!!" *rolls eyes*
"Nunnery? Actually, Randy Beets won that title."
"Randy Beets?! Oh, *%$^&@@*&^ 3>^!## @## *#>< @$!!!"
"Sorry, I thought you knew."
At this point, Bel sighed deeply and stopped eating her cake. She shook her
head in disgust.
"Beets ... fricking Beets at every turn ... he's gonna suffer I tell you, if it’s the last thing I do. I could chop him down to size, smash his overgrown, no good, butt from here to kingdom come."
Bel grew quiet again. Then, to try to get her talking again, I said, “You know if you swim the Channel, you will be the first and most likely the only Big ASS swimmer ever to do so."
She didn’t respond but gazed fiercely into her coffee cup.
"Hodge has already gone on record," I added, "that he has no interest in the
"Why is that?" Bel asked but her eyes sill betrayed that her mind was far away.
"Cold water. He is just not a cold water swimmer."
Then Bel spoke and when she did her words gave me the location of her mind.
"Beets," she said firmly. "Beets is going down."