Last Sunday at Goodwood motor racing circuit we saw the culmination of our training efforts realised as six of us Redhill Cycling Club members competed, pretty successfully, in the Duathlon, organised and run (very efficiently) by Portsmouth Triathletes Club.
A field of 120 contested the event that, thankfully, was held in warm and dry conditions, in contrast to the forecasts which had regular showers due for the area.
Within our group of Redhill CC entrants we were fortunate to have a keen (and strong) cyclist, Darrell High, who is also very good at orienteering. The nature of the sport ensures that competitors become strong and proficient runners and Darrell demonstrated this as he set off strongly as one of the race leaders. Also making a good start was Richard Sanders and Claude Lhomme with the rest of us limiting ourselves to our personal, paced strides and rhythms that we had calculated would ensure reasonable performances. However, it was pretty daunting seeing the bulk of the field literally running away from me as I maintained the steady pace that I had trained to run at, all the time monitoring my heart rate to ensure that I didn’t get carried away and expend too much effort too early on in this long event. 18 minutes of steady effort saw me onto the top straight where the freshening headwind started to make its mark and signified a tough ride on the bike where its effect would be much greater. Round the last corner and into the transition area to change shoes in a carefully rehearsed routine to get on the bike as fast as possible. The change onto my preferred discipline and to be back on my faithful race bike was fantastic and from the start I was able to accelerate up to a good speed and within seconds was starting to reel in competitors who had left me behind over the first five kilometre run. This continued for eight glorious laps, on each lap I was pulling back places and trying to get the best possible time advantage over those who were stronger runners and who would be making up ground on me in the final 5 kilometre run. And whilst I had been concerned that the headwind might have reduced my ride time pretty significantly, I was delighted to see that my elapsed time was ahead of my schedule.
Into my final lap on the bike and it was great to pass Darrell who was already starting into his last run and looking really strong and relaxed – Redhill CC looked like having a top finisher. So into the last kilometre of the bike ride, keep drinking as much water as possible, accelerate up to top speed towards the transition (in which you can’t ride your bike), coast in fast whilst unclipping from the pedals, leap off the bike and break into a run to reach my place and change shoes again for the second run and the last part of the race.
Onto my feet and then I discover why the final run is known as a killer. The first couple of hundred metres was OK and then the mix of wobbles and pain set in. And this was the beginning of tough, painful, effort that seemed to last vastly longer than it actually did until, thankfully, I was within reach of and crossed the finish line with team-mate, Claude, sprinting past me in the final metres to beat me by one second. Our finish time was just 1 hour 42 mins 40 seconds, in the end just about exactly where we had trained to be and very gratifying in light of the awkward wind that had increased as the race progressed.
Waiting for us was Darrel who we learnt had finished in a terrific eighth place and Richard Sanders who had both run and cycled really well to finish nearly three minutes ahead of us. James Hopkins came into the finish a few minutes later with Andre Roux not far behind.
Overall, a really good result for the Club considering that this was the first such event in which most of us had competed. Darrell in eighth place out of a field of 120 and the rest of us in mid field but exactly where we’d planned and trained to be.
So what next ? We’re all keen to do another Duathlon but there are no more in the area until September so it’s back to normal bike racing and time trialling –but it was a great experience and one which challenged us in new areas and to new limits.
Can we wait until September ? I’m not sure – now someone mentioned a half marathon. Was he joking?