Posted by: lepages | October 22, 2011

Grim Duathlon 2011

This was my first off road duathlon… as far as the bike was concerned… and I don’t think I ever remember a run in a duathlon or tri that forces you to go through water and mud!!

The weather though was anything but grim – fantastic! Bright and sunny, temperature around 10-12 degrees – just about perfect in my reckoning.

Today was a day when everything went right (well aside from some poor off road bike riding which definitely needs some work!)

Got home from our Children’s Club, The Zone, at church around 9pm and was tucked up in bed by 9.30pm, having rushed around gathering the necessary for today. Remarkably, slept well! Not used to that! Usually before an event I find myself waking up every hour or two, but this time I slept right through till 5.30ish – almost 8 hours – pretty rare for me at the best of times – wonderful!!

Soon after 1/4 to 8 we were on the road, eventually arriving soon after 9.30am.Registration and bike racking was pretty straightforward. Everywhere looked pretty dry. After a visit to the loo, strip down and go for a little jog around to warm up, have a good drink and so on.

Everything set, ready to go. At race briefing advised in spite of appearances there is plenty of mud and water and it will be a ‘grim’ duathlon!! In setting up two landrovers had got stuck and had to be towed out… joys to look forwards to!

And we were off! Downhill on rough trails, then uphill – take it easy – was determined not to push hard but to run at a high comfortable pace which I could maintain – soon negotiating around mud patches and deep pools of water – got to 2k in 7:45 – realised inspite of myself I was running faster than intended – the buzz of the race! Sharp turn into a smaller trail into the woods – very pleasant! Then cargo net to go under. Lost my pace with that. Took me a few minutes to get it back again! Coming up to 4k a very steep drop down and then back up again, then run back through the woods and into T1 – glanced at watch in T1 and just turning 23mins gone – pleased – would have been happy with anything under 25 given I was trying to pace myself and running form still not really back yet. Grabbed a gel as I went through and then out on to the bike.

Me exiting T1 No 326 in background

Soon tearing off down these hard, stony surfaces, holding a reasonably high speed in high teens mph. Few mud patches, holes etc to avoid, but reasonably good going.

I’m not in the pic, but gives a reasonably good idea of first part of bike course.

Hard surface is fine… if a bit shaky on the old bones and arms! But then we came to a broad section of sand…. that was hard!! Across that and carry on. been gone about 20mins on the bike and I’m thinking ‘This is alright! Not sure it’s much of a ‘grim’ duathlon’… then there was a sudden sharp turn left in some really deep stoney surface, which then dropped down a steep slope – managed to stay on…. but another guy in front didn’t and I and others had to avoid him spreadeagled in the track. Down the steep slope to discover a 90 degree turn into mud…. and then we were into the grim duathlon! Really rough, muddy, steep inclines up and down with sharp turns – had to get off bike couple of times when others stopped in front of me – got to top of one climb – found it really hard getting off on a climb and then persuading legs to climb up – also need to learn to get off opposite side to what I always do! At the top of the climb there was a sharp right turn going down this very steep mudslide – going straight up the other side in same conditions. Took me a moment before I could go. What do I do??!! Brake??? No, that’ll make me skid over. Made it. Looking at bike computer at home had a max speed of 29.9mph at some point…. reckon it must have been here – even second time round I hesitated before plunging down the slope! Ride then took us down a tiny, twist turny trail through some woods – good bike skills needed here! At the bottom, sharp left turn as you come out – deep mud, or negotiate the side and bushes… bad operation first time around but better on the second! Then we got to the real mud and water sections. Love the narrow channel through the water and then the bash on the head from the tree when you come out the other side!!

Then we got to the deep water section – maybe 30-40 metres long – and in deeper points coming up to thighs. Guy in front of me attempted to cycle through. Did well for about 2/3rds of the way, then hit something underwater and took a dive completely under himself – wouldn’t have fancied that!

Coming out the other side it was hard to get going – calves felt so cold…. legs and feet felt so heavy… eventually started turning again and on to final section, avoiding mud and pools… then round again!

Wasn’t quite so fast the second time! But forewarned is forearmed for some parts. Sandy section was easier going as repeated crossing had compacted it in places. Didn’t like some of the grating/crunching sounds coming from the bike at times. Couple of times thought gears were going to jam, but they freed themselves so guess I was fortunate…. others weren’t so lucky.. several folks struggling with chain/gear problems, others with punctures… one guy was running into T2 with his bike.

Took another gel before coming into T2 and quickly out on to the second run. Legs felt cold, hard, heavy from second time through the long water/mud stretch. Take it easy. Steady pace. High rhythm, but don’t push it. First k took me 5:30 and second was over 5 but then legs warming up and loosening up, even though we’d been forced to go through some deep water this time around on the run! Started to pick the pace a little and took a couple of others. Another guy came up on me, breathing heavily. Matched his pace, till the cargo net. Dropped back a bit on him afterwards as tried to get my pace and rhythm back. Down and up the steep slopes before the 4k marker I was back with him. Once past the 4k marker lifted my pace a bit more. Left the guy I’d been following standing and caught and went past maybe 5/6 others.

Pleased to come in with a total time of 1:48:23 – had said if I got under 2hours I’d be happy – if I got to 1:45 I’d be over the moon. Delighted with my placing – 75th out of just over 400, 17th vet out of just over 90. Not bad for someone still recovering from the effects of my cycle accident, and for a first off road event.

Me trying to figure out my stopwatch at finish – in process managed to delete the time..

Me, once I’d recovered and stopped hacking away and thinking I was going to be sick, and after I’d got my results!

Full results:-
Run 1 0:22:17
T1 0:01:02
Bike 0:59.28
T2 0:01:07
Run 2 0:24:27
Total 1:48:23

No problems from knee or shoulder. Everywhere else aches though! Pleasing. Only struggle was driving home when the sciatic nerve problem from my accident almost 6 years ago kicked in – real agony at times. Stopped at Toddington services for a couple of minutes for a walk and that got me home okay.

Once home there was the small matter of washing my bike… don’t think I’ve ever had one of my bikes get this filthy!!!



  1. […] doing a good variety of training since the ‘Grim Duathlon’ , largely courtesy of Triathlon Plus magazine training plans – my consistently preferred tri […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: