This was an event I entered with my PT group, Louise’s PT 4 U Fitness Team, after being contacted by Chequered Flag I was unsure of what to expect. Duathlons are not something I do, having only really taken part in a couple previously and those were on a borrowed road bike. This time, I had been ill during the week, felt unwell and nearly didnt attend on the day of the event, today, I had to run to the shop and buy some shorts as I left mine at home. Oh boy this was looking awesome 😉 We arrived at the location to motorcycles screeching around the track, we were hoping they weren’t joining us. So far, the caliber of bikes we had seen and the general feel was of racers who were pretty serious, here was me with my mountain bike, Graham had forgotten his trainers and was wearing some serious trendsetters to go with the horn on his bike, hahaha. Not to be jested however, Graham has completed some serious miles on his bike in 2 etap races this year. Completing both of these in very respectable times, a testament to what you can do with some hard work, focus and not blaming your kit! Registration was a very straight forward process where our main concern was keeping warm, the wind chill had gone up a few levels since earlier in the day. Coming to these type of events where I am not sure what to expect, I get really nervous and uncertain of how I might fair against everyone. Especially, against all these folks with their duathlon and triathlon t-shirts! All of a sudden feeling rushed, trying to get my kit organised and changed. Pop the tire back on my bike – the wrong way initially I might add. We headed to the start line and had to work out where to the pop the bikes, haha my tires were so wide they nearly didnt fit in the stands, hahahaha. Much nervous chatter, dashes to the toilet, pictures to be taken – well we need proof we were present. The pre-race briefing was simple and concise, just what you need when you are nervous. Over to the track and we lined up, a very original and unique way to begin, we watched for the lights above. All had to light and go off before we could begin, there was a build of anticipation as they lit up. A few nervous, almost false starts as we waited. Then we were off!!!
I found the first few yards pretty heavy underfoot having been on trail and off-road sections for much of my last lot of running. This felt high impact underfoot and a reasonable pace, I wasn’t sure I could keep it up, especially as I have been focusing on endurance based events over the summer. We were quickly into a downhill section of the track, coming around the bend you were straight into a head wind which I thought nothing of at this point. We quickly made our way off the track on the run route around the outside of the track. Instantly, this felt so much better but it seemed longer than I anticpated it to feel. I came around the last hill of this section to the words of, ‘F**k Off!’ exclaimed very loudly behind me, I am presuming he was talking to the hill and not me.
Into the bike section, helmet on, I reached to take my bike out of the stand and nearly pulled the whole stand with me, hahaha, oops, that would include Lucy’s bike with it. Those slimmer tyres I was so proud of for the C2C hahaha – they were not slim at all. I had to resort to brute force to free my bike but we were finally off, to top it off my front bike light fell off – ahhhhhhhhh! Okay, thats okay, Ill just hold it. Over the transition line and jumped on the bike. This holding my light actually wasn’t my brightest idea, I couldn’t properly pull my brakes but I also had nowhere to put it. 5 laps here I come, I pumped my legs hard to get around the corner and down the hill. I noticed that many of the guys on the road bikes were free-wheeling it down this section but I kept cycling. Then we hit it, the wall, brick wall of wind. We would come around that first bend so quickly only to feel like you were going to fly off the bike as the wind whipped at your wheels, pushing you wider on the track,. This is where I struggled the most. Uphill and into the wind. I received a few ‘well done’s for doing it on a bike like that!’ but its all good, I even overtook some folks on the last hill as you came toward the transition section. Lap one complete – 4 to go. A massive high five to all the spectators for their cheers and support! After completing the 5 laps, quickly moved into the transition area and was directed onto the final run. Now you would think that this would get boring quickly, I tend not to enjoy repeated laps but you don’t have time to get bored – you are just pushing to go fast. This involved following the same route as the initial run but only on the outside of the track. The marshalls were great at encouraging you, although one of the team felt they were alittle sparse as she came in further down the field towards the end of the final run. Nevertheless, this was a great event, especially as an introductory, the whole team did fantastically well. We all enjoyed ourselves, the instructions were very straight forward and easy to follow, Graham felt that the marshalls helped to create a very relaxed atmosphere for those of us who didnt feel up to the same level as some of the other racers. Everyone was cheered in over the finish line, great to be welcomed in with a bottle of water and an energy bar. Focus was all on the taking part and personal challenge – brilliant. I would highly recommend this with 2 more left in the series to take part in.