When September come round it’s time for my favourite race of the year. This is primarily because it’s the only race I’ve ever won, but its still strangely enjoyable, even though it’s a tough one. There’s something fun about racing on trails you know so well and ride regularly. No course preview needed here!
For the un-initiated it goes like this: first off a 10k trail run, then a 20k mountain bike leg, then finish off with a 5k trail run. It’s fast and a long way from flat, so it hurts! I find that this race always goes a certain way for me – roughly mid field on the first run, make up loads of ground on the bike, then either hang on grimly or lose some ground on the last run. This time I had some RCC company – Tim agreed to suffer some pain with me, which was great.
It’s a pretty small affair, with a slightly disorganised charm about it, especially the briefing, which still ends up confusing more than it helps, even after 5 years! Anyway, the start gun went off and we charged down the initial trail past the cricket pitch and settled into the run. I’ve never run with Tim before, but we seemed to settle into a similar pace, although I had eeked a little gap by 7k. My problem was that I had overhydrated and was carrying a full bladder, that refused to be quiet. In the end I decided it would be better to stop and empty, which I did, and although Tim almost caught me, I found I was running better and more relaxed afterwards and managed to extend away again.
At transition I was in 12th place. I had a pretty smooth change over and set off up the hill on the bike. I was riding the Devinci Troy, which was the first time I’d raced on it (not really a race bike, but fun none the less!). I quickly caught 2 people, and then a couple more, although towards the end of lap 1 (it was a 2 x 10k lap) I was caught and passed. This upset me – it wasn’t in the plan to be caught by anyone! I set off after him and half way round the 2nd lap I managed to catch him again and go past. We had passed a few more riders (I think) so I was happy things were going well. No cramps either, which has been a feature of duathlons for me previously, and the course is great.
I reached transition after being on the bike a smidge over ahour, with the other guy just a few seconds behind, so the race was on. I wasn’t confident here – the last run is a sufferfest for me and he went past, although after a few hundred metres the legs settled in and I got a reasonable pace going. I surprised myself and actually overtook him, and then caught another guy as he took a spectacular tumble down a bank. After a quick ‘you ok?’ I pushed on. It’s a hilly run, and I felt oh so slow and sore, but, I didn’t get caught, and managed to cross the line in 6th place. I am very happy with that!
Sadly I didn’t see Tim at the end, but he finished well. Put it in your diaries for next year!