The location of this odd race was Ladybower reservoir in the Peak District, a place i'm very familiar with having ridden around here since I could ride a bike. The race consisted of a 7k run, a 29k bike and then a 4.5k fell run... There was a twist though, you could do either run first... It's also worth noting that i'm not a runner, every now and again i'll start running for a bit but soon get bored. This time however I thought I should actually get some practice in, so since entering in the middle of February i've been doing a few short runs a week, training seemed to be going ok and I managed a few PBs including a 5k PB of 19:35. Encouraging,
Race day was an early start, a 6am alarm (5am really given the clocks went forward) and an hour of faffing, making coffee and Porridge and then leaving my parents in Nottingham at 7am. Jack and Lucinda were also doing this, so we packed the car and all set off. This whole race was actually Lucinda's idea who thought it would be a good idea... Jack until the night before wasn't actually doing it, however my friend Tom who had entered was injured, so Jack stepped in and ran under his name (Cheers Tom!)
We arrived at Fairholmes visitor centre early enough at 8:15am for the 9:30am start, allowing plenty of time for usual pre race faffing. Obviously, this being a Duathlon meant we had to work out where the transition area was (at the top of a hill) and where best to place your bike and all your kit.... Competitors were walking around the carpark and transition area with huge boxes of stuff, towels, extra clothes, tools and all sorts of stuff. We however each just had a small rucksack with cycling shoes and running shoes, and a few gels. Nothing else needed really.
It really was a beautiful morning, quite warm around 8 degrees and the sun just trying to come out meant the skinsuit was yet again the item of choice. To be fair most people seemed to be wearing trisuits, which did suggest to me they were slightly more experienced than me at this Duathlon stuff... Just before 9:30 and the usual race briefing was given and then at 9:30am on the dot the klaxon went off. It had started.
The start of the first run was down a steep tarmac hill back towards the car park and then infront of one of the huge Dam walls. To say the pace was quick from the off would be an understatement and although I had positioned myself near the front (why not eh) I was instantly passed and competitors went hurtling down the hill. Just after the start though the route split, where you could either do the 7k road run first or the 4.5k fell run. I opted for the road first, as I knew I could set a good rhythem and get warm, I was quite surprised by the amount of people who then opted for the fell run... I seemed to now be around 5 runners from the front, the pace had slowed down (thankfully) I settled into a comfortable pace, making sure that I didn't go too quick, knowing just what I had to come on the bike and then the final run. The 7k road run was quite flat, with a few undulations along the east side of the reservoir along a private road, a simple out and back route to the transition area. I was feeling good and about 4k in caught a 1 competitor and dropped another, still not sure if that was a good move... The two routes then converged and then final 1k we were back together upto the transition area. The strange thing about this is that I had no idea where I was in terms of placing.
Just coming towards the first transition area
Into the transition area and I quickly ripped my shoes off, helmet on and cycle shoes on and I was off. The cycle was where I was really hoping to make some time up and wanted to put in a quick time, unfortunately my Garmin packed up so I didn't have any data whilst riding, annoying. Jumping onto the bike for the first of outward leg of the 29k bike and the legs took a mile to get warmed up and then I felt good. The road surface was poor, mud, potholes, other people all made for a tricky ride, the main thing though was that I hadn't been passed by anybody and I was passing people, and clearly overtaking people who were very good runner (and perhaps not so good on a bike) this was what I needed to do as my last run would no doubt be slow. The bike route followed the West side of the reservoir, again on a private road, so no traffic to worry about, essentially out, back, out and then back for the final leg. Throughout the bike I was feeling strong and on the final out and back was gaining on what appeared to be the lead 3/4 competitors, a few k to go on the bike and I pass 2 guys who appeared were putting out a huge effort! I dug deep and knew if I could get out the transition area for the final run before these two I would be limited the impact of my final run on my overall position. I made the pass and got into the transition area around 30 seconds ahead... legs were burning now.
Final outward bike leg
Into the transition area
Fell running shoes on, gulp of water and then off we go for the final run! There were no runners that I could see in front of me, so back down the hill I went, along with the two guys who I had passed moments earlier. They clearly are better an transition times and running than me... We got to the junction where the run splits, I had somehow pulled away from these two, having made the pass again on the run and got to the junction where the routes split, turned around and was very glad to see them both head for the 7k road run. Off I go on the fell run route. Starting as a twisty muddy track through the trees with some switchbacks which then opened onto a fireroad, legs were hurting now but I push on and then came the assent. About 550ft in 0.5k. I started the run, which was now very slow, terrain was tricky and although there had been no rain was still muddy and I was glad for the fell running shoes. Through a gate and it got steeper... I was now almost walking, but importantly there was nobody behind me, I continued walking for around 30 seconds until terrain flattened off a little and I ran (slowly) more steep switchbacks and I could see the top, and another runner! Finally at the top and I knew it was all downhill from here, very downhill indeed! The track now was quite wide, but very rough, with huge rocks and stones meaning you couldn't just fly down, you had to pick your line (mountain bike style) The path got steeper, and onto more grassy and soft terrain, where I could see the finishing road, through a final gate and I was onto the fireroad, and the final tarmac section to the finish in front of the dam. As I joined the road run route I could hear a running, getting closer and the breathing heavier he passed me! My brain certainly told my legs to pick up speed, and I did try but I had nothing. I resigned myself to loosing out on that position, whatever that may be. Onto the final home straight and Tom shouts that i'm 4th! What??
Lucinda came in at 2:02 (6th lady!!) amazing effort and all the training paid off, a new 5k PB too, happy days around then, very proud! Also, given this was Jack's 3rd EVER run, first off road run and run up a hill he did amazing!!
Overall, a brilliant morning out. Thanks to Peaklife Sport for organising the event and Aquaman Photography for the photos. Full results and information here: http://www.peaklifesport.co.uk/results-and-race-reports/19-derwent-duathlon-2014-race-report-and-results.html
Will I do it next year? Yeah why not!