Race Report – The Accidental Duathlete

2020 ETU Duathlon (Standard) GB Age Group Championship – Punta Umbria, Spain 8th March 2020

Encouraged and supported by Colin, I entered the Standard Duathlon qualifier in  Bedford on 13th October 2019 – the dangling carrot was also a visit to see our daughter Caitlin in Loughborough on the way home!

Waiting on the start line in Bedford in the pouring rain, a fellow competitor mentioned the date for the Championship event was the 1st weekend in March 2020.  My mind was whirring and trying to work out what date we had booked a skiing holiday – I was very close to stepping out of the start line when I realised the dates didn’t clash.

Splashing through puddles for the first 10km run was not fun, the cycle was even worse and by the time I got into T2 and poured what felt like gallons of water out of my trainers, I was almost giving up.  On the last loop of the run, Colin was a solitary figure shouting ‘you’re looking strong’  – my response ‘ I’m never doing this ever again…’   

I finished the race, grabbed my bag and went to change to then find out Colin had my result and I was second qualifier, looks like I’ll have to do this again I suppose…winter training was about to begin.

Roll forward to March 2020, the said skiing trip was the weekend before the European championship and I remember Dave Smith’s face the Sunday before when we were at Drumbrae swimming session and we told him our taper was skiing whilst carb loading on bread and French beer.

Skiing done, home for one night, change of travel kit along with much social media chat about whether this event was going ahead due to COVID-19

Arrived in sunny Spain and assembling of bike began, Colin over tightened my seat and the bolt broke, the onsite bike mechanics were unable to fix it, so off to the local motor bike shop who did a temporary fix for 4 euros, mostly using hand signals to communicate.

A recce of the bike course and feeling anxious that my seat might collapse at any moment did not make the experience any easier.

The evening before our event there was an Elite event which had suddenly attracted some famous faces due to another event having been cancelled at the last minute.  Bizarrely, watching Alistair Brownlee settled my nerves.

Race day…. A small bowl of granola consumed, transition all setup then off for a strong Spanish coffee.

My first run was 9.7km which was 4 loops through the town of Punta Umbria, the streets were lined with locals and supporters and the sun was splitting the skies.  Standing on the start line listening to the heartbeat boom box was so nerve racking. I was with Female AGs 40 up to 70.  I had already met up with 2 of the ladies I had competed against at Bedford and once we started I settled into a pace with a lady called Amanda. 

Into T1, quick transition for me and out on the course which was 36.8km, comprising 2 loops back into the town with 4 dead turns – note to self, I need to practice dead turns.

I could see Amanda on the turns a few hundred metres behind me which spurred me on.  Coming into T2 I had the mantra going through my head to ensure all kit was put in my box before leaving T2 otherwise it was a penalty.

Trainers back on and back out on to the 5k run which was 2 loops through the town.    I was digging deep and trying to chase down my fellow GB teammate in the last 5km but my legs just wouldn’t go any faster.

I was so delighted to find out that I had come third in my age group and then I realised that the medal ceremony was in the evening and we had a flight to catch.

It was disappointing not to actually stand on the podium however I never thought for a moment that I would get a bronze medal

It was an amazing experience and now to do it all over again with prequalification for 2021 being awarded for my podium finish.

I’m not 100% sure but I think this has been the only British Triathlon event held so far this year.  Here’s hoping 2021 is a better year and everyone can get back to competing.