The first event of 2022 was the Yorkshire Duathlon on 3nd April at Croft Circuit near Darlington. This event was the English National Championships and one of three of the European Standard Distance Duathlon Age Group qualifiers.
Colin and I drove down on the Friday night (1st April) after finishing work. I was in the driving seat and about 6pm Colin asked me if I had paid my £10 for my intention to qualify for the European event. My heart sunk…I had no recollection of doing it and Colin thought he had paid previously in 2021 and assumed because the event had been cancelled, his entry fee would be rolled over. The cut of date was 1st April at 5pm. There was no rollover of payment and this was no April Fool!
After frantically trying to contact British Triathlon by email and phone on a Friday evening which proved unsuccessful, we decided to carry on driving and would take part in the event regardless. We eventually got in touch with British Triathlon on the Monday and there was absolutely no movement on the rules of having to pay by the deadline of 5pm on the Friday.
The actual event went well for both of us and both of us would have qualified for ETU 2023. Oh well, lesson learned to check all the information prior to going to an event.
The next qualifier for ETU 2023 was on 6th August but neither of us could make that date.
Roll forward to September 2022 – we had both qualified previously for the European Standard Distance Duathlon Championships in Bilbao, Spain.
Arrived in Bilbao to beautiful sunshine and by chance we were staying in the Team Hotel. There was quite a lot of information about the course in the hotel, but maps without any arrows doesn’t really help me!
The runs were straightforward – up and down the side on the river, however the cycle route seemed particularly complicated. The cycle started in the town centre then took us out of the town, an out and back up a steep and technical hill (twice), back into town, round a few loops and back to transition. On the Friday morning we managed to do a cycle recce but just one loop of the hill with a group and nobody quite knew what the full route was going to be.
Race day arrives….it was only 12 degrees and everyone was feeling the chill on the start line, for me the usual nerves and asking myself “have I been to the toilet enough times!” The run went pretty much to plan, T1 was the longest distance transition I have ever done, onto the bike and out onto the course, one loop done then as I came down off the hill, I could see the LAP sign (left) and the TRANSITION sign(right) but could not see the gap in the cones to do a left turn against the natural lanes in the road. I didn’t see any Marshall and stupidly continued straight on. I stopped to ask the next Marshall how to get back onto the hill loop, but she didn’t speak English and I only know how to order 2 beers in Spanish. I had no option at this point but to continue about another kilometre back to transition.
I was almost in tears thinking my race was over, but the lovely Marshall asked me if I wanted to stop or continue, split second decision I said I wanted to continue. At this point, Colin cycled into T2 looking totally confused as to how I was back at T2 before him. The Marshall got a police bike and they escorted me back to the start of the second lap. How embarrassing but I was so grateful. Colin then spent the last 5k run wondering what on earth I had done!
Once I was back on the hill, I fully expected I would be last but suddenly I was catching people on the hill. I just couldn’t give up, so got my head down and overtook them. The last 5k run was actually quite enjoyable as the sun was shining and it was now about 21 degrees but I was still assuming I would be last in my Age group. To my total surprise I came 3rd in GBR Age group and have pre-qualified for 2023 European Championships. Unfortunately, Colin didn’t pre-qualify but had a great race – there are just lots and lots of middle aged men taking part in Duathlon 😊
So, the story continues as Colin decided he would try again to qualify for next year by taking part in the last qualifier at Oulton Park (south of Manchester) on Sunday 2nd October. To make life even more difficult, Colin was taking part in the Craggy Island Triathlon (Oban) on Saturday 1st October. It’s a long way from Oban to Manchester…. I couldn’t go to Oban so we hatched a plan….
I would meet Colin in Glasgow on Saturday late afternoon and be his support team by driving to Manchester with him. This all sounded quite easy expect there was a rail strike on Sat 1st oct. Plan B – get the bus to Glasgow, should be easy except Rangers were playing Hearts and 3 buses went passed – full. Eventually I got on a bus and arrived in Glasgow and managed to find Colin miraculously – my track record isn’t good for directions!
Race day for Colin at Oulton Park – we woke up to a beautiful day. The race wasn’t until 1pm so Colin had a few hours recovery from Craggy Island where he had come 2nd in his Age Group to Roy.
The event was held at the race circuit and it was 2 loops of running, 9 loops cycle and 1 loop run. I found a great place to spectate and saw Colin run the 2 loops and then started counting his cycle laps. Got to 5 laps and then he didn’t appear. I was convinced I must have missed him coming through until the clock kept ticking and was thinking the worst and really hoping he hadn’t crashed. He appeared a couple of minutes after I had made a decision to head back to transition. He had had a blow out on his front tyre. Race Over ☹ So disappointing as he had had a great run.
Looking forward to 2023, Colin has qualified for the Triathlon World Championships in Hamburg in July and I have pre-qualified for the European Standard Duathlon Championships – date and venue not decided yet.
Age Group racing is great fun and for anyone considering it, make sure you sign up early in 2023 for the 2024 races and remember to pay your £10 for intention to qualify!!