Phew, I’m glad to have survived that! Winchester Duathlon turned into less of a straightforward run-bike-run and more of an adventure race, yesterday.
Result: 3rd/77 overall
(R1: 5th, T1: 9th, C: 3rd, T2: 13th, R2: 4th)
Date: Sunday 17 March 2013
Format: 5km run, 20km bike, 5km run (technical bike course, flat off-road run)
Race website: http://www.trytri.co.uk/2013-events/winchester-duathlon/
Full results: provisional results via http://www.triandenter.com/race-results/2013-race-results/
Photos: a small Winchester Duathlon photo set is on the Try Tri Events facebook page
I’ve been itching to race again; the Dorney Duathlon, Race 1 seems like ages ago and although training seems to have been going well, it’s hard to tell without “using” it!
I biked the Winchester Duathlon sprint cycle route a week ago. It’s a relatively technical course. There are two T-junctions and three dimple roundabouts in the first kilometre, before you hit the steep climb up Magdalen Hill onto the Alresford Road, which is pretty narrow, with parked cars and pot holes. Once you get out of town, there’s a good drag onto the A31, before a sharp left turn onto the twisty, lumpy, Avington back road. Once you make it onto the B3047, the road surface is awful, and then there’s yet another 90+ degree turn onto the road to Easton, and more twists and turns before you get back to the Alresford Road roundabout. You’ve then got a good drag back into town but the two “switchbacks” make the descent of Magdalen Hill somewhat nerve-wracking when you just want to be back in transition.
I’d also jogged round some of the off-road run lap. It was muddy last weekend; given the rain we’d had this week, I knew it was going to be worse on race day. I wasn’t wrong!
About half the 133 entrants obviously took one look at the weather and decided to have a lie-in on Sunday morning, as there were only 77 of us on the start line. You couldn’t really blame them. The rain got harder and harder in the seconds before the start. I set off from the front of the grid and within a few hundred metres I had settled into 5th, behind three recent GB Age Group duathletes, Alex Hill, Ant Gritton and Paul Ashley, and Nathan Risbey, another good duathlete with a sub-17 minute PB for 5k. I couldn’t quite keep with their pace on the second lap, but I came into T1 feeling pretty positive. The route on the day was short, about 4.5 km, which means I averaged 3:50 /km pace, not bad for the conditions.
Once out on the bike route, I overtook Nathan Risbey on Magdalen Hill, but he came past again on the flat. Although I kept him in view and closed the gap on all the ups, he was riding much more bravely through the sweeping descents and turns out to Avington, so it was only when he punctured that I moved up into 4th properly. The puddles were huge, across the full width of the road in several places, and there just didn’t seem any point taking risks. I slowed to a crawl descending Magdalen Hill. Average speed for the bike, less than 31 km/h, sounds woeful and is considerably slower than my relaxed practice ride a week earlier, but I still had the 3rd best split of the day, despite riding so nervously.
Back into T2, I saw Alex Hill having some kind of issue, so I set off onto the second run in 3rd, but the front two were out of sight. Paul Ashley and Ant Gritton had worked off each other on the bike, Paul arriving into T2 with a slender lead, and they fought it out for the win. I have to say, mentally I checked out and just got myself round in third, averaging only 4:12 /km at 10 bpm lower than run 1. (The initial provisional results show another athlete ahead of me, but we’re sure he did the Novice event.)
After I had regained feeling in my hands and face, I picked up some coffees from the catering van and ambled over to the far corner of the run course, where my friend Sarah was marshalling. She and all the other volunteers did a fantastic job to maintain good cheer in the appalling conditions. Thank you!
So… I finished 3rd. That’s a good result, I think. I expect the competition is going to get tougher at the next Dorney Duathlon, which (hoping the weather is kind) will be a better yardstick for progress and race speed. Before then, another three weeks good training!