As regular readers of this web site will know, earlier this year in a moment of madness John H and Jon P signed up to compete in the New Forest Duathlon
. A weekend's training in July filled our heads full of what we should do and how we should do it, and with us both knowing our weaknesses (Jon running like a squiffy giraffe and John cycling like a bandy legged cowboy) the boys set about trying to prepare for the event. All too quickly the 25th October had arrived, and the intrepid pair arrived at Sandy Balls just outside Fordingbridge at a ridiculous time on a Sunday morning.
With numbers and time measuring chips collected and fitted, bikes racked in the transition area, all was ready for the event. Well almost; Jon was running around like a deer caught in the high beam of an approaching true. In true Jon form, he had left it up the very last minute to borrow a proper road bike from Ade, had little practice on it, and had not checked that the cleats on his shoes would suit the pedals). Meanwhile John had about 5 visits to the loo. In contrast John’s brother in law Mathew, who was also entered, approached the event in a calm and collected manner, although it must also be said that he had run the course and cycled it many times so was well prepared.
All the 'athletes' were assembled for a briefing on the race format and rules after which we were lead down to the start of the race, this in itself was interesting as the gradient (downhill) would have suited climbing gear. Then, with a shout of "GO!" we were all off, straight back up the steep hill for the start of the 6km run stage.
So not wishing to bore the reader further with a step-by-step appraisal of the event both of us were running almost side by side into the 1st transition stage, although for the assembled world’s press (Mrs John) John had to make sure he was just in front. 30 secs or so later John was out on the bike and heading out into the New Forest roads, 3 or 4 minutes later Jon got his act together and also got out on the bike. Jon soon caught up and took the lead. John managed to keep him in sight but as drafting was not allowed had to hang back (well that was his excuse).
The route undulated over 21km, although not technical the very strong head and cross winds affected all the competitors significantly. 40 or so minutes later, separated by about 30 secs the two of us made it back into the 2nd transition stage, where again John stormed through transition and Jon piffled around like a school girl in a make-up shop. John made it out onto the road just ahead, for the 2nd 5km run stage; the same hilly route was used.
During our training weekend the importance of what is known as 'brick training' was extolled, i.e. conditioning you to the move from a cycle stage to a running stage . Needless to say the name brick is highly appropriate as both of us later agreed that our legs felt like bricks as we tried to get them running again. 26 or so minutes later John ran throught the finish followed a minute later by Jon; Mathew had finished about 9 minutes earlier.
All in all we were both glad we had done it, but also that it was over. The organisation both before and during the event was excellent, certainly miles ahead of the Helly Hanson challenge that John signed the TCA up to a couple of years earlier. The event was also friendly; although tough it seemed to me that all the competitors (including the 2 or 3 elite world champions that turned up!) were all very approachable even whilst competing. As always circumstances seem to conspire to cock your best laid plans up, but both of us knew what we were in for, and the lessons learned during training and the event will help us in future physical challenges.