Stokesley Spring Duathlon 2014
The report herein contains two accounts, the first written by Peter Leach who took part in the sprint distance duathlon, and the second account written by Peter Persico who took part in the standard distance duathlon.
Of his experience in the sprint distance, Peter Leach writes:
All of us want to run faster. That’s partly why we are members of Abbey Runners and we usually take note of our finishing race times, or perhaps we just want try to climb that hill in front of someone else? I used to run 10K road races twenty minutes faster than I do now, and as ever, it is not for the lack of me trying! As I have reached my late sixties I needed a new challenge and Duathlons have really brought that buzz back.
There are novice, sprint and standard races at most of the events, and this tends to generate a friendly atmosphere as competitors prepare their machines and themselves ready to race.
The Stockton Duathlon was a road event and many competitors were riding their hybrid and mountain bikes, so you don’t have to buy an expensive road bikes to compete. There are some off road Duathlons which have yet to be sampled by Peter and myself.
Peter Persico has a lot to answer for, for introducing me to the Duathlon and getting me back on my bike!
Of his experience in the standard distance, Peter Persico writes:
This would be my fourth duathlon, and the second time I had undertaken the Stockton standard distance duathlon, having done it in 2013, which was the inaugural event and my first ever duathlon. Leading up to this event, I’d still been experiencing weakened ankles, but there was never any doubt of me going to take part. The start time for the standard distance was 1300h, with registration from 1030, so I had the opportunity to get a little extra sleep that morning. Travelling up to Stockton was fairly uneventful and, once there, I took in the atmosphere and had some lunch after putting my bike in the transition area. This year, I’d learnt from the previous year, and pumped up my tyres sufficiently, as well as oiled/lubricated the chain, cassette, and derailleur. Peter Leach had been taking part in the sprint distance for the second time, and I had the opportunity to watch him run into the finish to complete the distance. He didn’t actually see me until after he had cleared the finish area because his face seemed to have a stern and concentrated disposition. He managed to approach a photographer just before I was due to go to the start line in order to take a photo of us together, a man called Denny of DTImaging. This photographer also managed to capture a picture of me during one of the run segments of the standard distance. It had been raining a few hours earlier, but seemed to have dried as my start time approached. It was a good atmosphere in the starting area, and it was great to speak with others at that point about a variety of related issues. I have to admit that I’d been slightly nervous that morning about the whole thing, and this was most likely due to having had dodgy ankles for a few weeks, meaning I was somewhat worried about my performance. Then, the horn sounded, and we were off!
The first run consisted of 2 x 5km laps, making a total of 10km [6.2 miles]. The route started by the transition area on the riverside, and took us round the river bank, over the Tees Barrage footbridge and the Millennium bridge, taking in the riberside walkways on the University side of the river. I did try to keep a regular pace during this run instead of doing what I have in the past, which is start off too fast. There were various places where people were watching the event, but also other areas where there were no other people, and it was quiet and relaxing. For the first 7km, I seemed to go pretty well, but then I began to notice my ankles getting weaker and not being able to keep me going at the same pace. All I could think was to make it to the transition area because then I’d have the opportunity to cycle and allow my ankle to get some sort of rest before the final run. Those last 3km were quite tough. Coming into the transition area, I tried to move as quickly as possible, putting on my helmet and cycling shoes, and getting to the mount line. My total time for this run was, unfortunately, slower than the previous year, but quicker than I’d done recent 10km runs, so perhaps not all bad considering I had more to do.
The cycle portion of the standard distance duathlon was 40km [24.85 miles], and meant cycling 6 laps on closed roads. The cycle course was on a fully closed road circuit around the riverside and University, and it contained some ascents and descents, as well as several twists and turns to make it all the more interesting. Shortly after starting the cycle part, the rain began to fall making some of these sharper turns a little treacherous. Despite what some might call my apparent fondness of falling, I managed to stay on the bike, but I did notice a few people on the floor in places being tended to by first aid personnel. This means, I have no new cuts or scrapes to show. The headwind made some of the open stretches that bit more challenging, and it would have been nice to be able to draft other cyclists at times, but with both static and mobile marshals keeping watch, it was best to avoid this action. Indeed, some people ended up being disqualified for several drafting infractions. I was glad when I noted the approaching transition area on my final lap where I could leave my bike and embark on the final run. I’ve not yet practiced the skill of taking my feet out of my cycling shoes whilst still on the bike so that I can move through and out of transition at a quicker pace, like some of you may have seen people do in triathlons. This means I still get off my bike and run with the cycling shoes on my feet. Up to this duathlon, I was using mountain bike cycling shoes that would be classed as “walkable” because the clips are within the sole rather than stuck out from the sole. I had figured that this would make transitioning easier and quicker; however, this comes at a price because the shoe is much heavier and less firm, resulting in reduced power. Happily, my cycle time for this distance was a faster than the previous year.
The final run portion was 1 lap of the route for the first run, which made it 5km [3.1 miles]. I had hoped that the cycling would have given my ankles some time to rest and recuperate so that I could run this last part at a decent pace. In actual fact, the final run was a bit rubbish, and in the last 1.5km, I began to struggle enough that my time was not as good as it had been the previous year. There were still people out on the course watching, and I had a clear enough gap that no one came close to overtaking me on this run. I was also glad that no one said, “You’re almost there” during the run because, having run 2 laps beforehand, I was well aware of exactly how far I had to go at any point. Crossing the line, there was no photographer in sight, which might be a good thing because I really don’t know how I looked, but I did grab my chocolate bar. I chose a snickers bar because at the time I thought that since it contained nuts, it would be a healthy option following this amount of exertion, so perhaps I wasn’t really thinking straight.
Overall, my time was quicker than in 2013, despite the run portions not being as good, so I was still a little happy. There are a few things I will try to develop before the next duathlon, which includes working on transitioning quicker, as well as managing my nutrition and hydration a little better. Looking back, I’m still glad I did this duathlon, and would still recommend them to others. There were plenty of people watching and cheering, which is always helpful and adds to the experience. At the time of writing, there was only one photo of me during one of the runs [see above]. I am hoping that I may have been captured on camera at other points, and that they will appear in due course, if only because I want to see what I actually look like at different points. I hope others will consider partaking in these interesting and inclusive events, and if anyone wants more information, I’m sure one of us will be happy to talk you into taking part!