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European Duathlon Championships representing GB for the 40-45 year-old Age group

European Duathlon Championships representing GB for the 40-45 year-old Age group

Posted on May 23, 2017 by Dr Alistair Bunting in Ferndown News (clinic: Ferndown)

A former Rugby player and distance runner, I converted to road cycling around 15 years ago due to the accumulation of too many niggling injuries, after racing at a number of different levels, I have recently entered a number of Duathlon events following some sustained pressure from a number local athletes I train with, as one can compete within one’s own ‘age group’.

The Sprint Duathlon discipline is a 5Km run, 21k bike followed by a final 2.5km run multi-discipline event which I chose over the longer distance event as it is more suited my training constraints with a full-time job.

My first Duathlon was an event at the Bedford Autodrome in March 2016 which went surprisingly well as my finish time qualified me for the GB team for the World Championships in Avilies Spain. The Championships themselves were a real eye opener and inspiration with athletes competing from Elite level through the age group categories and also the Para athletes. Though pleased with my performance I felt there was room for improvement as I was relatively new to the sport.

Fortunately, later in 2016 I managed to again qualify for the GB team, this time for the 2017 European Championships in Soria, Spain.

At the end of April 2017, I left a relatively warm sunny UK and arrived in Soria to find sub-zero temperatures at night.

After my arrival at 2am and a quick kip in the hotel, Pre-race day preparation involved the usual GB team brief, advice on the course and race timings etc. Followed by registration, kit checks and then building the bike and hoping for no mechanical difficulties. Sadly, due to my last-minute arrival I had missed the bike course recon this did not fuss me too much as in previous events with closed roads and a well marshalled course I would just need to be careful around the odd tight corner identified from a map.

I elected not to book the official GB hotel and took a gamble for a local hotel in the town centre which looked possibly closer to the event HQ, fortunately this gamble paid off.  The hotel was literally just 200m from the start line. A real bonus come race day, in terms of traveling to the race start and avoiding getting too cold prior to the gun 

At 1000m above sea level the locals may have had an arguable performance advantage due to altitude, though the cold and blustery conditions probably favoured us Brits. It had by now warmed up to just above 5 degrees, not what we had expected in central Spain for early May!

As often the case with a sprint event, it was ‘full gas’ from the gun… after about 2 minutes of a notable uphill start, I found myself thinking “this is the last time I am doing this to myself!” The first slight decline a few hundred meters of so later provided enough respite to settle into a more manageable rhythm.

Pacing for the rest of the run mainly concentrated on not to going into the red too often. I finished the 5k run alongside my training partner, a naturally strong runner. I was pleased to have my weakest leg of the event completed.

‘Transition’ the area where the race changes disciplines initially went smoothly - a bright green bike tends to stand out against a mass of black or dark greys. However, during the ‘flying start’ on the bike, (where the shoes are already mounted to the bike, the idea being your feet are slid into them ‘on the move’), one of my shoe straps broke – Disaster I thought. Fumbling with this did lose me some time and more crucially a few positions. Eventually I managed to get my foot in place and tucked the offending strap back into the shoe as I was concerned about this getting stick in the chain.

Next job was not letting this setback fluster me and to settling into the bike leg. As this is generally my stronger part of the race I was not surprised to be quickly making up a number of places and though I found the course immensely tough due to a very strong gusty wind and a hilly terrain I found myself hoping for a longer bike leg in order to gain more places within my race.

The last third I really pushed hard and coming into transition with an overwhelming sensation of nausea I wondered if I had overdone it. The final run is always a killer and I had the familiar feeling or rather ‘no feeling’ in my legs after a hard bike leg. I Managed to hold it together on the final run even overtaking a couple of other Spanish athletes and finished 15th overall in my age group, which was above my expectation.

The next target I guess must be a top 10 finish in Ibiza next year.

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