I have several finishing photos from over the years, but the one from Clumber Duathlon is probably the best. However, I won’t be sharing it as I look like poo. Still at least it shows I gave it my best shot, don’t want to be finishing fresh do we?
Clumber Park is a great scenic location and it was a quiet but friendly atmosphere on a cold and misty morning as people busily set about lifting bikes from the top / inside / back of their cars. Amazed at how some people manage to get so much in small cars; saw one guy wrestling his bike out of a Ford Ka. There was some nice gear on display; bikes that weighed less than my flask and cycling kit showing prestigious club names. Still not to worry, I was wearing my 1986 Ivanhoe Runners vest, real cred. Its always re-assuring when you see someone at the start who you think you might beat; the big guy with a mountain bike the size of a tractor, and 3 lads from up north had lights on their bikes, clearly not expecting an early finish.
There had been lots of warnings about getting there on time, so with a hour and a half to go, I set off walking with bike and kit box to transition. Nice walk across the fields, nice steady walk, ideal warm up, relaxing long walk. That’s good warming up now, gosh it is a long walk, still nice to be having a stretch. Does seem a long way though, but clearly going in the right direction with everyone else. Dear me, it is a long way, oh dam this box is difficult to balance on the bike. For #### sake why do we have to walk so bloody far?
It was about half a mile, but no queues and racked with no fuss. Shame I had to go back to the car which meant I did a 2 mile warm up. Shouts of ‘Uncle Bobbie!’ as I returned meant that my niece Holly had spotted me. An excellent swimmer from Lincolnshire (its the webbed feet) she is moving up to Triathlon and was doing the short course as a tester. I reminded her that there was no swim today and returned to my bike.
There always seem plenty to do in the half hour before the start of a run, double it for a Duathlon as there’s bike and transition kit to fiddle with. And go check where you run / bike in / out of transition, in the hope that you will set off on your own bike when the time comes. Adjacent places on the rack where taken by gentleman of a similar age and we chatted about events of years ago while young men warmed up their lycra. Ready to start, but delayed for 25 min due to the mist (the bike is on a busy rood).
Eventually to the start, didn’t seem many of us, but there were several different groups going off at 5 min intervals. We’re off, the ‘male classic’ group. Once we were over Clumber bridge, the route took off up a hill and the pace settled down. It was an out and back course, twice. So we soon met the leaders who had been to the cone at 2.5 k and were sprinting back – I could get lapped on a 10k! And to add to the confusion, as we turn at 2.5 k, we see the ‘classic women’ catching us, closely followed by everyone doing the sprint distance, (a shout of ‘Go on Uncle Bobbie’ as I meet Hollie). Back to 5k in 24 min ok, and ready for another lap. Completed 10k in sub 47, my fastest for a while, so I would have been pleased had the day ended there.
I cannot believe the transition times, neither mine or the leaders. Surely I didn’t take almost 2 minutes, and no way did the leaders do around 40 seconds; I couldn’t do a straight run between the 2 lines in that time, never mind collecting a bike.
Enjoyed the bike, it was good to have a sit down and found myself overtaking several in the first few miles. Another ‘Go on Uncle Bobbie’ at 3 mile as I went past Hollie who had run 5k and now on for 1 lap on the bike. Well marshalled on a busy main road, lots of swapping places as we catch the slower sprint distance riders, but still being overtaken by others, presumably keen cyclists who hadn’t enjoyed the run. The route takes us back to main entrance to the park, down the tree lined avenue and this is where we lose about 75% of the field who turn to finish their one lap on the sprint distance.
So the second 12 mile lap wasn’t as busy, but more chance to settle down, although its an undulating route and I never seemed to be in the same gear for more than half a mile. Second time into the park, change down for the last 400m give the legs a spin and into transition again.
‘T2’ was much better, 1 minute! Must have forgotten something, but I had swapped shoes and wasn’t running in my helmet so that was good. My legs weren’t particularly painful, in fact I couldn’t feel them as I had left them in transition and was using a pair borrowed from a an elderly lady who had clearly had a glass or two of port. After a mile I’m moving ok, and its another uphill jog to the cone at 2.5k and back. Finished the 5k in 25 min, and overall time of 2.34 well within my target of 2.45 so delighted with that until I check the bike to find the route was only 38k, as confirmed by other recovering athletes.
So my personal challenge to ‘just beat Rosie Dear’ as referred to in a previous article has failed. Rosie had completed Rutland a month earlier in 2.45 and the bike route is 42k.
Hollie? Didn’t see her at the end, but facebook confirms she enjoyed it and will be back.
Final task; delete the finishing photo.