ITU Duathlon World Championships, 2012 (AG)
I arrived late Friday night after catching the late ferry from Dover, followed by a five hour to Nancy. On arrival the hotel was well situated only a few minutes walk from where the race was situated. The hotel itself was very basic (as reflected in the price...)
This year coming into this race, I was more or less injury free and stronger than previous years on the bike, in all I was hoping for a top 3 finish.
The course was typical of a location that couldn't really accommodate a large international race; many laps, loops and 180o turns. With the high race entry fee, my impression of ITU events over the years has been poor, so this will certainly be my last. Nancy itself had a nice town square and park, which made up for the remaining fairly run down and bleak city.
A good example for this; The transition could only hold approx 200 bikes, so the racking was staggered through out the day. Each athlete had a short window after the finished to collect their bike adn belongings or it was taken out. One poor girl, who on return from her ride going onto her second run, was surprised to find her shoes missing (taken by the marshalls), despite this she ran barefoot (great effort), but then got disqualified for not having shoes, I seriously hope she got a refund!!!!
My age group 25-29 started at 10.25, racking at 6.45-8am, which ment I could go back to the hotel and relax for another hour or so. After which, I found a quite area to warm up by the canal, do some strides and mobility drills. I felt rather dazed and weak, perhaps through lack of sleep or not enough food (still avoid eating pre-race due to stomach issues)
Making my way to the transition, with just a few minutes to go, looked around, had no idea where the start was, anyone else!? No signs, no starting arc... 2mins to go... anyone?? No impressed.... A little run feed in area set behind a tree, a World Championships, seriously!?
The first 10k was 4 x 2.5k laps around what was a very nice park. The event was well supported, probably down to the fortunate weather and kind temperature. The course was again technical, lots of dead turns and loops. Once the started set everyone off and the usual 800m dash (why....?) things calmed down after the first 2.5k loop. Before this race, I thought i'd attempt some wine gums (lesson 1, never do anything you've not done in training), which sat nicely high up, making me feel sick, partnered with being light headed and feeling just plain unfit, I struggled to keep in contact with a American guym who, without sounding arrogant, could quite easily have been a shot putter.
For once I couldn't wait to get on the bike, coming in a depressing 10th (no more nutella for me). Followed by another useless transition, coming back to tidy my shoes for fear the marshalls might penalise me for being messy or not aligning my laces in the correct ITU manor!
Coming into the bike section, I purposely didn't recce the course, given it was 5 laps, first is always slower given the accummualted lactate from the run. An early gel, I was feeling positive and taken the stress away from the stomach. I new it was a technical course, so was reasonably cautious on the first lap. Lots of narrow and tight turns on some rather poor road surfaces. Despite this, i caught a couple of riders early on, looking positive! Lap 2 I started to push hard on the turns and get as much as i could, avoiding the 55-59 year group who were (well some) cruising gingerly (great planning ITU). One particular section had a very narrow hair pin, which was more of a right angle leading into a ramp to take you on the overpass. Screaming into this on the second lap (forgetting how I almost kiilled myself first lap), it was such a tight turn, you had to take so slowly, I breaked far to late, skid straight through into the barriers.... to my huge luck, the plastic barriers were hollow and not linked, otherwise I'd been over the handle bars and in a real state. Instead I smashed them into the otherside of the road, luckily staying on... slight delay of shock, small loop back around and back up onto the overpass, wasting no more than 30seconds. Shaken and feeling alittle out of sorts I continued.
Lap 4, feeling stronger, seeing others upfront I again put the hammer down. In one section, a corner that was more or less at a right angle, I noticed a woman going to cross (this was quite a common thing during the day). My attention was focused on her, the marshalls stopped her, but not relising my attnetion was directed towards that, again I breaked far to late, skidded towards a metal barrier (not as forgiving), I tried to make the turn but caused the bike to slide under me, sliding along my arse, that one hurt....
Back on again... few minutes this time.... 'this is getting rediculous'....
I was pleased to get into transition, now miles behind the leaders, back of my mind this was now a training session, but hey, balls out!! Catching couple of guys, GB, Belgium and German. Poating the fastest 5k split, wasn't much of a consolation, but only myself to blame.
Let's hope it was a key 'training session' for Warsaw marathon this weekend.
Powerman Austria, Weyer, 2012
After the worst build up to a race (yet more excuses) with a broken frame two days before the start. After a couple of late nights with bike mechanic Matt Toll, a complete rebuild and eventually something ready for this race, what a great job he did, thanks mate!
Just a short trip from Friday to Monday, flight from Heathrow to Vienna, pick up car (which rental company.... 1 hour later, Avis and a downgrade to a fiat 500, oh yes, with a massive bike bag)
Two and half hours via some breathe taking countryside.
I was based in a very small town in Grossramming, 10miles away from the race start in Weyer. The town hosted the pasta party held on the Saturday alongside the Powerkids event.
The hotel Lehnerhof was amazing, set in beautiful location and very reasonably priced, room booked for next year already.
As with most European events, organisation great and well supported.
Race kicked off at 10.10, with temperature peaking at 35 degrees, someone higher than UK's average summer low teens...
The course was on roads that were perfect; smooth, winding and taking in one of Austrias amazing national parks.
Run one was 2 laps of 7.5kms, composed of road and trail paths that were undulating and twisty.
There was no expo or big regsitration, which was refreshing and kept things simple. The start was situated in another pretty town, Weyer. As the race was on a Sunday, most shops were shut, which made it easy to park, plenty of cafe's were open.
The mens long distance race was a mass start, with the pro's lining the front. Running being my stronger of the two discipline, after the first lap, found myself 5th overall, finishing just behind the leaders.
After a somewhat hassle free transition, after 10minutes hitting the main climb on the bike (wow that was a climb, especially in a 12,27) my seat fell off, few minutes later back on, but my spair tub decided to turn into a sail... After lap one, I jumped off again, to hide my tyre in abush t collect later and re-adjust my seat, more valuable time gone.
Second run was tiring, having not experienced a hard ride onto another fast run was very tough going! But a good second run, with 2nd quickest overall run time finished me in 22nd overall, ok, but could of been top 10!
Great race. Back next year.
Hawaii Ironman World Championships.
Ticked the box and experienced something of great magnitude, not just the big island volcanoe...
ITU Duathlon World Championships, Gijon
Coming into this race with a few dramas, firstly a tear in my right peroneal muscle-tendon junction has really slowed my running. Preparation was not as good as hoped, especially with training geared to the following weeks Ironman. Oh and it was my birthday! Excuses out the way....
Flying from Stansted, the short flight across and taxi into the centre of Gijon, a very pretty drive into the city. This was a flying stop weekend, arriving on the Saturday, racing on the Sunday and flying straight back out. Priority one was to get the bike built, then get down to race registration, about 2-3 mile walk. Gijon has a pretty coast line with a small old part and church situated at end of sea wall, remainder is alittle like Eastbourne. Registration was chaos, no mention that you needed to race bike, wear your race suit and bring typical stuff, so back to hotel andI was in for a late registration.
Race HQ was situated in small stadium, transition on grass in the centre andnthe track as the start.
The route was initially laps for the run, a two lap hilly bike route and a final 2 lap finish.
First run started at a 800m pace, not getting carried away (and with only one leg working) hanged back, a young kenyan duathlete, built like a 10k athlete, pulled everyone along, whilst burning out half the field out. Slowly I started catching others up on the run, coming in 11th on the run. Usual terrible transition.... and out on the bike. Route was hilly, which suits me and I begun to catch up a few of the leaders, it was a dry day which ment the turns could be taken at a faster pace. The route took you up into the hills overlooking the city, Eastboune started to look pretty.
Finishing the bike and guessing a few of the last roads as the marshalls forgot to do their jobs, coming in 6th position on the bike, in 59.29. Last run... sometimes your heart isn't in it, today felt like one of those days.... despite posting the 3rd fastest 5k run, I came in 5th overall, just a minute behind the leader, how those seconds add up.... Quick turn around and back on the plane, now aged 26!
ITU Long Distance Duathlon World Championships, Zofingen, Switzerland
After a long drive down to Switzerland, we based ourselves in Aarburg, just outside the hosting town of Zofingen. The day before the race was the usual expedition, race briefing and stretching out the legs on some parts of the course. As usual, most European countries seem to excel at organising events and this was certainly no different. The transition zone was fantastic, massive stadium, TV screen, excellent bike racking, everything you would want and expect for a World Championships. The night before the race was interrupted by the Dutch equivalent of the Hells Angels, who seem to forget that tents are not sound proof, so thanks to them the three hours broken sleep that was much appreciated. Race day was overcast and slightly cooler, which would help given the steep climbs on the bike and run route.
The men’s start preceded the woman’s long distance category. The first 10k run was an impressive 2.5k uphill followed by 2.5k downhill, 2 lap run course, on road and through woodland trail. I usually warm up really well, but due to an injury I decided to keep that easy given the duration of the race; however the rather short and fast first lap put a lot of lactate into the legs, coming into transition in 33mins, 25th position overall. The run course was well supported, plenty of aid stations and great marshalling. Transition to bike went smoothly, finding my bike first time and mounting without the usual dramas. The bike route comprised of three 50k loops, with a total height elevation of 1600m, the roads partially closed, but the traffic was held at every junction. Each lap had 3 climbs, with long descents on the other side and sweeping roads through stunning Swiss scenery. Even though the peaks were only at 780m, combination of this and humidity made the climbs tough. I tried my best to stay in a time trial position on the flats and downhill’s, coming up for the climbs and to refuel. After a somewhat uneventful ride, a clean dismount and I entered the second transition having completed the bike course in 4hours and 28minutes. I popped a few anti-diarrhoea pills as the combination of gels, drinks and food always gives me problems. Usually I feel strong coming from the bike onto the run, but hitting the first 2.5k hill really shot my legs. The route consisted of 2 laps of 15km, with some very steep climbs, mainly trail and some cross country. This was by far the hardest run route I have ever done, combined with dehydration and lack of vital sugars; I plodded through the field, sipping coke at the aid stations. The Injuries started to nag and whether started to close in. Seeing the leading elite group come through spurred me on and I continued making progress through the field. The finish was a nice 3km downhill stretch; a short loop around transition with great support from the on looking supporters led into the finish, well and truly knackered. I finished the second run in 2hours and 6minutes, with a cumulative time of 7hours and 10minutes.
Lanzarote Ironman 2011
On the back of a good marathon in Prague and training week in Italy, the lead up into Lanzarote was good. I was told for your first Ironman, Lanzarote was probably the worst, given the heat, wind and tough bike course, so plently to look forward to! Arriving on the Thursday, I had one day to get prepared, well fed and hydrated. As far as events go, the organisation was amazing. The care and attention to everything was beyond expectations. The Thursday included registration, participant race briefing and a very good pasta party. Friday was spent taking bikes over to transition, sorting feed and kit bags, most importantly having an early night for the 4am coach over to the start from Club la Santa. Race day was typically windy and slightly overcast for the island. Arriving with the other athletes on the coach, we all wondered down to transition to do final checks on the bikes, get oiled up for the swim and have a quick warm up. To be part of a 1500 mass start swim was unbelievable. The sky was very dark before the start, so much so you couldn’t see that far out to sea, but miraculously just before the gun went, the sky’s cleared. I have to admit, my swimming is the weakest of all three disciplines, so I new that just to get out the sea alive was an achievement. I made an effort to do wide loops around the two lap course so to avoid being swam over. In spite of the diesel taste in the sea from the on looking boats, the swim passed very quickly and without any dramas. Transition was rather manic, with sun cream being plastered on by volunteers, people sliding over from the wet floors and I thought I had the swim to worry about! Only real set back was forgetting to put my socks on... Transition was very long and onto the bike, coming out around middle of the competitors. Straight away it came apparent what major part the wind plays on this course. I started to make my way through the field and settle into a rhythm, keeping as aerodynamic as possible. I was aware how important feeding and hydrating was on a long distance race, so tried my up most to consume gels, water and some dry food every 30 minutes. Most notable moments on the course were the lava fields, big climbs up to 600m and attempting to have a wee on the bike. I hit two low points; running out of food and water and starting to feel very dizzy, luckily it was short lived as I managed to restock and the last 10miles getting shooting pains in my right knee (will invest in orthotics soon...), luckily the final 8k of the race is all down hill, but was questioning my ability to run a marathon. Arriving into the second transition, I dropped of the bike, collected my run bag and made my way into the changing tent. Getting into my running kit and being covered with more sun cream then I have ever used, I spent the next 8 minutes of my 10 minute transition on the already over flowing toilet, a sign of things to come! Well as far as the first 12 miles go, I caught up 70 people and was on target for a 2.45 marathon time (yes that’s going of a little to fast). Then the troubles started, the next 6 miles I managed to dive into 4 gardens with extremely bad stomach problems, now my main worry was hydration. The remaining part of the run was slow, walking through drink stops sipping coke and shuffling between feed points. The finish was a very welcome sight, coming in on 10hours 23minutes, 90th overall and 4th in age group.
Distance: 3.8k swim / 180k bike / 42.2k run (swim 1.07 / Bike 5.56 / Run 3.02) 90th / 4th AG
This also ment I qualified for the Ironman World Championships in Hawaii.
ETU World Duathlon Championships 2011, Limerick, Ireland
The European Duathlon championships took place in mid-April. The distance for this event was 10k run / 40k bike / 5k run. Preparation for this event again was not great, trying to balance long distance training with shorter speed work, I new that I would not be at my strongest. This race was very flat and with a technical bike route including plenty of 180 degree turns. A strong 10k run leg saw me enter transition first. After losing a couple of places coming out, I decide to attempt the running bike mount (never practiced before), in superb style I missed the bike and came crashing down to the floor, losing my drinks bottles, shoes, gels and everything else attached to my bike... (Note to self, never attempt something new that has never been practiced in training, especially at a European championships). Having picked up my gear and got back on, I had lost good few minutes, which at a higher level is very hard to pull back. After a average ride, I decided to at least give a good account of myself on the final 5k run, which gave me a finishing place of 4th in age group.