Race Date: 24/03/2019
Report by Shane Porteous
Oulton Park Spring Duathlon (Standard Distance)
(8.6km run, 38.8km cycle and 4.3km run)
As this is my first race report, I thought that I’d give a little bit of an introduction… I started running about two years ago (following a little peer pressure from Rosie Smith), and have been a Strider since August 2018. Some time last year, I thought that I’d see about doing a Duathlon in 2019. So, at the end of 2018, with the help of eBay, I found myself a bike to ride and signed up for the Oulton Park Spring Duathlon (Sprint Distance).
The week before the race, I noticed that the rim of my front wheel was looking a little worn; so ended up ordering myself a new wheelset. At the same time, I pondered changing from the Sprint Distance (4.3km run, 21.6km cycle and 4.3km run) to the Standard Distance (8.6km run, 38.8km cycle and 4.3km run) – mostly to avoid the 7AM registration. I dropped an “is it possible to change” email to the race organiser and got a reply of “yes, I’ll do it later”; so my decision was made for me.
My new wheels arrived the Thursday before the race, and whilst I had planned to just change the front wheel… on Saturday afternoon, I couldn’t help myself and decided to also change the rear – how hard could it be? Well, quite hard actually when the gears don’t quite line up and the derailleur needs adjusting. Also, when the new rims are wider, and the brake cable clamp doesn’t want to move; that’s also not fun. But eventually, I managed to get everything running as it (almost) should.
Arriving at the race, it was a little more involved than the start of a run. At registration I was given three race numbers (one for me, one for the bike, and one for my helmet) and a race belt for the number that I had to wear – the reason for the belt being that the number is worn on the front whilst running, and on the back whilst cycling. After getting my bike out of the car and attaching the numbers, it was time to head into the transition area to find the place to leave my bike and cycling shoes – as I’d transferred from the Sprint to the Standard, I was one of the last on the rack.
The weather was a fairly-mild 10 degrees, but there was a wind which was making it feel much colder at times; so there was much discussion between the people assembled as to what they’d be wearing for the race. In the end I’d decided that I was just wearing my tri-suit for the run (with strategically placed number), and would see about putting a long-sleeved top on for the cycle. Quite a few people opted for more layers from the start.
Then it was time for the pre-race briefing where they told us which side of the track to run and cycle on, where to get on and off the bikes in transition, and how many laps we needed to do for each section (2, 9, 1). The start of the race was a relaxed affair with people having quite a lot of space around them (or maybe that was because I had no desire or reason to be at the front), and then it was time for the first run…
With this being a new discipline, I decided that I’d approach it as I had done for the last couple of half marathons and would aim to have my heart rate at about 80% MHR. The first thing that I noticed was as this was being run on a closed race circuit, the only spectators were friends and family for other races; so they were few and far between along the course.
As far as the elevation profile of the course went, I didn’t seem to notice it too much during the first run. The wind also didn’t seem to be much of a hindrance, even though it was blowing against you whilst you went up the hills. The second lap came and went without too much bother, and so it was then time for the transition to the cycle stage. I’d opted to change my footwear off the bike (some people have their cycle shoes attached to the pedals, and fasten in as they get onto the bike) and then clip in as I started to cycle. It’s odd how your legs forget how to pedal once you’ve been concentrating on running, but luckily the section out of the transition is downhill, so you don’t have to pedal hard from the start. Then there’s a fairly flat section, and a banked curve which leads in to where the pain starts.
Pretty much from coming out of the bend at the bottom to getting back to the start felt like it was mostly uphill with some extra-hilly sections where you (or at least I) ended up in the lowest gear, and at times standing up just to keep up momentum. But at least there was only 9 laps to do! As the laps increased, so did the intensity of the wind. It seemed to blow as a crosswind from the start line to the bend at the bottom, and then as a headwind for the steep hill sections. Despite all of this (and the fact that my chain came off at the bottom of one of the hills at around lap 7), the laps appeared to go quite quickly, and soon it was time to get off the bike. I’d used a “how many chunks of my protein bar have I eaten” to count which lap I was one. I’m happy to say that I counted correctly, and I’m even happier to say that I managed to dismount without coming a cropper.
Shoes changed (thank you elastic laces) and time to run again. Just before the race, a friend sent me a short article on Duathlons which said that the start of the final run was like “running with a bear on your back”, and with the change from pedalling to running and tiredness; this is exactly what it felt like. That final lap seemed to take forever with a feeling of plodding with every step. Most of the serious athletes had completed, so I found myself running alone for most of that stage.
Then, it was into the transition area for one last time to head for the finish line to collect my medal and race time printout. Okay, so the medal isn’t quite to the standard that I’ve come to expect of late, but I really couldn’t have faulted the event at all for anything else. On the day, it was very well organised (a few emails leading up to it had cast a few doubts) and I’d certainly look to do it again.
Just two Striders at the event (the other being Richard Pegg who’d also completed the Clumber Park Duathlon the previous day).
The full race results are available here: https://www.stuweb.co.uk/race/29S/