Thursday, 6 December 2012

Let's off road!

The first multi-sport event I ever took part in was an off-road duathlon (10km run, 18km cycle, 5km run) on an army training ground for a tank division. I'd entered it purely because it was being held in January so the theory was I wouldn't let my fitness go over the Christmas period. This was back in 2010, when I was training for the ill fated Brighton Marathon.

As I enjoyed mountain biking (well cycling round Wimbledon Common and Richmond Park) and had now got up to about 10 miles with my running, I didn't think it would be much of a chore. I'd heard that it took a bit out of your legs running straight off the bike so I spent a couple of weekends cycling to Richmond Park, through Wimbledon Common (which was about 8km), and then having a run around the park before cycling home. Job done.

However about a week or so before the event it suddenly occurred to me that this was going to be a proper off road race. Not the pleasant cycle tracks around Richmond Park. I started wondering if I should pull out. It was obvious I'd be making a complete fool of myself. After watching a video of similar events on the organisers website I decided that it wouldn't be too bad, and if worst came to the worst there was no shame in admitting defeat during the event.

So race day arrived. As I say it was my first multi-sport event and the first thing I became aware of was the amount of bike porn on display. Mrs Trihard had often chastised me on the amount of money I spent on bikes but this was something else. I made a mental note that next time I was preparing to purchase a new set of wheels I'd add at least an extra nought on the price range. The second thing I became aware of was how friendly everyone was. While it appeared I was the only person who had not competed in such an event before several people were saying they weren't sure if they were going to make it round. I felt in good company.

I won't be smiling for long
So we set off, some faster than others but I was comfortable with my pace and certainly wasn't running last, which I expected to be. It was muddy, very hilly with a few logs to clamber over but I made it round the course. Right - on to the easy job of cycling, the part I was best at.

Getting my leg over - Sorry, couldn't resist
I set off at quite a pace, thinking that I would be able to make up a bit of time on the bike. However realisation soon set in that I had been right all along - this was nothing like cycling round Richmond Park. As well as steep inclines that a mountain goat would struggle to get up there were boggy sections where the wheels would spin like crazy, meaning it didn't matter how hard you pedalled you weren't getting anywhere. But not many other competitors seemed to be having the same problem as they charged past. Rather than moving up the pack, as I thought I would, I was dropping down the field. And worst of all it was a three lap course, so I had to do this all again - twice.

The unadulterated joy of off road cycling
Once I'd completed the three laps I trudged off for the final run. I didn't have much left in the legs and had to walk most of it. However I did pass one chap who'd twisted his ankle so I wasn't last. When I made it to the finishing line the event organisers were packing everything up however I was pleased to see there were perhaps five bikes that hadn't yet been taken so not only had I beaten the injured guy I'd also finished before a few other able bodied competitors.

Finally there

So why am I mentioning all this now? Well yesterday I entered a caption competition on the Facebook page of Human Race, the organisers of this event. And guess what? I won! So what did I win? Free entry to another off road duathlon...

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