Only 2 months after completing ironman NZ, Chris, decides to pick another challenging event……. Sherborne Long distance duathlon. Having only completed one duathlon before, this being a standard distance one in April, it was going to be quite a challenge. The event is tough, but it was made even harder by the weather. I was testing out my ankle strength in a training race, after damaging it a few weeks ago, falling in sika woods and twisting it, and was nearly blown off my bike, throughout which I was thinking of how hard it was going to be on the Dorset roads for Chris. However, Chris paced the race really well, learnt from a fuelling mistakes in NZ, and the careful planning paid off, as he finished first in his age group, 11th Male overall. Great result. Chris’s race report below:
Conditions, as you mentioned, were far from ideal – winds blowing west to east the whole day, according to the forecast, about 22/23mph but obviously gusts well in excess of that. However, apart from a few spots of rain here and there, it was dry, so not all bad.
Did a good 25min warm up before the start and banged in a gel with about 5/10mins to go so was feeling good at the start. There were no markers on the run course so had to do things completely on feel. Just ran at a good tempo but made sure I held back so that I didn’t knacker myself. Unbelievably when I got into transition my watch read 40mins30s, which I’m still sure isn’t right – I think the course may have been measured wrong as there’s no way I was running that quick.
I decided at the start of the day that I was going to really focus on my race management and make sure I didn’t knacker myself on the bike like in New Zealand. So I thought if I come off the day thinking I could’ve pushed harder on the bike but had a good run I’d be happy. So made a real effort to not gun it on the bike at all and I think I actually ended up being fairly close to my threshold with it anyway. This was kind of aided by my bike computer deciding to stop working up the hills so I had to just go on feel and focused on using my gearing to keep a constant effort output. Also on the second lap I tried to just coast down slopes where the incline was enough to make a decent speed anyway.
The bike course was tough – quite nice climb out of sherborne that I just span up. The it was 2 laps. Started off going north to south, so constant side wind the whole time for about 15miles. There was a mean hill in the middle of this that was quite steep but other than that it was a relatively quick section. Then more of less a 180 degree turn so heading south to north, again a cross wind and this time up a big old climb and across the ridge. Slow going. Then the descent, which was pretty scary really! Then a turn to the east, so tail wind – pretty quick. And then a turn back west, so head wind – killer. After the second lap just rolled down the hill back into Sherborne. I think my total bike time was somewhere around the 4h20 mark.
The run course was approx. 2.5km out to 3 x a 5km loop and then back. Fairly windy and turn with a long uphill section about 1/4 of the way round the 5km loop, but nothing too bad. Ran really well out of transition but then realised that the only feed station on the run was maybe 4km around the loop so 6.5km from me in transition. So as I hit the uphill climb, sugar levels dropped and I really started struggling. Ended up going about 45mins without a sugar hit so was hurting by the time I got to the aid station. With water and a gel on board, the second lap went really well. Third lap fatigue was setting in so slowed down a bit but was able to maintain a fairly even pace the whole way to the finish. I think the total time for this was around 1h37.