Stirling Duathlon 2018 – Scottish Duathlon Championships

Post date: Apr 16, 2018 9:20:17 PM

By Dom Sharkey

My 2018 season started on a frosty morning at Stirling University with the Scottish Duathlon Championships, also doubling up as a Team GB qualifier for the ITU World Duathlon Championships in 2019. My race nearly didn’t happen after getting a puncture in the car on the way up on Saturday night – rocking up to the race on Sunday morning with the emergency donut wheel on the car wasn’t the coolest look but it got me there!

The race was a new format to me – a (just over) 10k run, 42km bike, then second run of 5k to finish. Both runs took place on a 2.5km circuit round the University grounds, with the bike route being a 2-lap affair on a rectangular 21km route on decent fast roads. Running after the bike is fairly familiar to me by now, but having never had experience getting straight on the bike after a 10k run I approached it with a bit of trepidation.

Other factors like what to wear (as it was near freezing at the start of the race - with a fast bike ride to come, cold arms and hands were a major concern) and why my transition area looked so bare compared to normal, as well as the fact I was using a Time Trial bike which I’d never actually ridden anywhere other than on the turbo also had me thinking a lot through every eventuality pre-race to avoid the significant potential for major embarrassment.

Knowing that I usually feel like death after running a fast 10k, and can take about three days to recover, I was very keen to take it a bit easier in the first run in order to save enough in the tank to not have a disastrous bike and second run leg, so when the gun went I settled into a nice steady pace and let all the jostling and argy-bargy go on ahead. I really liked the run loop – it had a mix of everything, some grass, half of a running track, a short but steep hill (up and down it) but was mostly tarmac, and with 4 laps to do it seemed to pass quite quickly to me. I ran well within myself and kept a consistent pace with my fastest and slowest laps only being 4 seconds different! I started the bike in 34th place, and turning on to the open road for the first time I saw that beautiful sight that I love everytime it presents itself to me in a race – a line of about 15 or 20 people stretched out over the next mile or so of road in front of me, just waiting to be caught. So I went to work on those and spent most of the next 20 minutes passing people. Looking down at my power numbers on the Garmin was quite encouraging as I was exceeding what I had planned to average, but feeling ok for it. The second bike lap was a bit lonelier, with not many too people in sight. I was caught by two other very fast bikers, one went well on ahead, and the other was just in front when we reached T2.

I realised the funny thing about Duathlons is that when you hit the final run, you already kind of have an idea of how good a runner everyone is – so everyone ahead of me after the first run was probably uncatchable, barring any miracles or disasters, as they were obviously really good runners, but the two guys who had overtaken me on the bike I knew had run slower than me before, so I should have a decent chance against them. This appeared to go to form, as the guy just ahead of me faded really early on in the 5k, and I was left in a sort of no-mans-land not being able to see the next guy in front. It was at this stage that the winner of the race passed me on his final lap so I spent the next few minutes calculating what sort of ridiculous times he must have done to end up about 9 minutes ahead of me. I was on the kilometre count-down by now thinking, only 4 to go, only 3 to go, and then I noticed the really fast biker from earlier ahead of me now within sight and seemingly not running too well, so this gave me another carrot to go after and helped maintain the pace. Hitting the short sharp climb for the final time I felt the quads crawling underneath my skin, on the brink of a cramp attack – thankfully the hill ended just in time before this happened – 10 metres more and things wouldn’t have been so pretty. After this I was in the home straight final lap, knowing that no disaster could possibly befall me now and was feeling chuffed with what felt like a really good performance and this wee high got me to the finish-line. Found out on the line that I had finished in 9th place overall which far exceeded my expectations. Yet to find out if I made top 3 in my age-group and therefore qualified for the Age-Group World Champs, but regardless I was really pleased with my pacing and execution of the race plan and it was a great start to my 2018 seeing the winter training getting put to good use. When I realised that pro-Triathlete Fraser Cartmell, Elite winner of Ironman UK and several Ironman 70.3s finished 2nd in the race, I thought that 9th is quite fine for me.

Run 1 – 40:59 T1 – 0:52 Bike – 1:06:58 T2 – 0:37 Run 2 – 19:01

Finish time – 2:08:28