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Dragon Slayer Duathlon 2006

Dragon Slayer Duathlon 2006
Eastway cycle circuit, London. – Sunday 2nd April 2006

Run 3 miles / Bike 20 miles / Run 5 miles

These guys were serious and I ended up taking a kicking for my troubles.

These guys were serious and I ended up taking a kicking for my troubles.

As preparation for the treble of triathlons I have planned later in 2006 I decided that this early season test might be a good way to see how much (if any) I had improved since last year.

Having handed over my £22 some weeks before it was with some nervousness that I cycled the 5 or so miles to the historic Eastway Cycle Circuit in east London. This annual event was being hosted by the East London Triathletes club and was the last year the event would be at Eastway which was making way for London 2012 Olympic redevelopment in October 2006.

>My aims for the race were simple:

1. Finish the race (absolutely essential)
2. Try not to finish last (would be nice)

This all sounds very simple you might think. However, I wasn’t in the greatest of shape so my I felt my aims were no more than realistic. I knew it was going to be really tough. On reflection it occurred to me that in future it might be cheaper and easier to invite some friends around to my house to smash up my legs with hammers. I took a deep breath and reminded myself that this multi-sport lark is all “fun”.

With my excuses fully prepared I rolled up at the track in plenty of time. Virtually everyone who was racing seemed to be in triathlon clubs. Looking around at their jerseys I read club names such as “Full-on tri”, “Oversize Codpiece”,”Hammer of Thor” and my personal favourite, “My arm is as big as your leg” or “M.A.B.Y.L” to give them their shortened title. The M.A.B.Y.L. boys in particular looked like they meant business.

Neither of these guys are me - I was way, way out of this picture

Neither of these guys are me - I was way, way out of this picture

I was soon underway at about 11.15am with a 3 mile cross country run. I’ve never been a good runner but it seemed clear that my running legs had been left behind that morning. Within the first 1.5 mile lap I was on my own having been pretty much left for dead. I was struggling so much that I considered calling it a day.

Having struggled around I made it back to transition hoping that I could try and catch up a bit on the bike. The bike course consisted of 20 laps of the 1 mile bike track. I was using both my bike counter and a lap counter supplied by the organisers to prevent a repeat of my Blenheim Triathlon debacle of 2005, where I got the number of laps wrong and ended up getting disqualified.

First thing to go wrong was my bottle cage coming off in my hand with the bottle when I went to take a swig of my drink. I can live with that but with my left gear shift refusing to operate I was left on the small ring the whole time and unable to do much on the flatter faster parts of the track. This was quite disappointing to say the least, although I must stress that I wasn’t riding very well anyway.

Some guys cycling very first around Eastway. I was going so slowly I had time to take pictures.

Some guys cycling very first around Eastway. I was going so slowly I had time to take pictures.

With everyone flying past in flashes of blurred speed, I decided to just try and dig in get to the end. The skies then opened and a torrential hale storm followed. The sun then came out before the hale continued once more. The wind was blowing a gale and I was wishing I had stayed in bed.

Eventually I got back to transition for the second time and set off on the final leg, a 5 mile run. The rain had drenched the course by this point leaving large parts of the course a giant muddy mess which I could little more than creep through for fear of falling on to my slow fat ass.

I was very near the back of the field if not last and really wanted to quit. My legs were in full agreement with this, barely managing more than the slowest of jogs. I would love to tell you that my heroic spirit is the thing that carried me through but in truth, it was the fact that I had paid out £22 and I wanted to get my moneys worth.

Having finished I quickly saw the positives of the situation. OK I was dreadfully slow but a year ago I could not have contemplated finishing a race like that. It was easily as hard as an Olympic distance triathlon and I was able to finish it in early April. I had something to build on but I knew I going to have to put a lot of work in between now and 11th of June when I start off at Windsor.

Time: 3 mile run / 20 mile bike / 5 mile run – 2:47:09

Position: 94th of 117

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London Duathlon 2005

London Duathlon
Richmond Park – Saturday 17th September 2005

After surviving the Blenheim and London Triathlons, the next stop on my crazy multi-sport adventure was the London Duathlon. Duathlon is a run followed by a bike with another run to finish – all in a row. So there was no swimming in this one to worry about. I thought it would chance to get rope in a couple of friends and do a team relay.

TEAM RELAY CHALLENGE DISTANCE:
10km RUN > 20km BIKE > 5km RUN

First on the list had to be Simon “Iron lung” Johnson. Simon had been crucial in helping me decide to train for the London Triathlon in the first place. After watching the 2004 Athens Olympics he memorably boasted that he would get into the British triathlon squad for Beijing in 2008 as triathlon “looked easy” and he thought he could “get really good in four years”. After struggling to retain control of my bladder from hysterical laughter, I promised to prove to him what a hard sport it was by having a go myself – this kind of amazing backwards reasoning is something only I seem capable of.

Not the most inspiring picture but I didnt have time to take many

Not the most inspiring picture but I didn't have time to take many

This does prove that Simon is an eternal optimist however, especially when you take into account the fact that his best years are clearly behind him. He does have an incredible attention to detail that makes NASA look nonchalant so I knew he would give the training a good go.

As well as myself the third member of this dream team had to be Henry “petit-dejuner” St. Clair Miller. Despite his posh name he’s a very down to earth chap and had a very handy personal best of 42 minutes for 10km. I thought he would be the perfect foil for the 10km run first leg. I would then take over the 20km bike leg, leaving “Iron lung” the 5km final leg.

This was my last event in a memorable first year in multi sport

This was my last event in a memorable first year in multi sport

We signed up and were all ready and then it all went wrong. First to drop out was Simon who had a wedding to got to – and it wasn’t even his own! This wasn’t such a big problem as we had fitness freak Yussef “Damage” Ferguson who was seemingly chomping at the bit, to step in and replace him. Then everyone seemed to be dropping like flies. Henry’s comparatively weak upper class immune system was no defence and he was out with Yussef not far behind. I too was not immune, this time falling fowl to a rather nasty bout of flu which kept me off work for a week. Training was out of the window which meant I turned up on the day with very little miles in the bank.

With no team mates I sent out a desperate e-mail to everyone I knew in the hope that someone would come in and rescue me from having to do the whole thing myself. Fortunately I was in luck and a nice chap called Malcolm was prepared to come in and run the 10km and he even knew someone (Nicola) who could do the 5km final leg.

I met Malcolm and Nicola on the day was delighted to see that they were proper athletes who seemed quite capable of carrying me if I had a bad day. This was a relief as I had lost some of the fitness I had in early August for the London Triathlon and I was still nursing a cough from the flu I had recently recovered from.

My familiar open mouth gurn which has sadly become my trademark

My familiar open mouth gurn which has sadly become my trademark

The team relay format felt strange as Malcolm set off at the start. I was looking at my watch knowing the race had started but that my services would not be required for at least 45 minutes. Malcolm recorded a creditable 50 minutes on a near 11km course and then I was off on my turn.

Although I was not in the best shape in the world I really enjoyed the two laps of the park despite panting like a sick dog on some of the trickier sections of the course. It was fun course with some really fast sections. Towards the last quarter of my leg I was really beginning to suffer and it was with some relief when I handed over the timing chip baton to Nicola for the final 5km. Once again we waited knowing things were not actually over until Nicola crossed the finish line.

Overall we finished 29th of the 77 teams which was highly respectable and I must say I was quite pleased with my time especially considering how disappointing my bike leg was at the London Triathlon. It was enjoyable event but was very expensive so I’ll have to check my piggy bank first before I think about doing it again for next year.

Final position: 29th of 77 teams.

Thanks: Malcolm McClaren, Nicola Barr, Jessica Hird. Not forgetting those who didn’t make it – Simon Johnson, Henry St. Clair Miller and Yussef Ferguson.