Richard’s Race Report – Cotswold Class Triathlon (Duathlon) – 11th July 2021

The early morning shock of a 3:30am alarm is never pleasant, even after a few days of trying to get up earlier. It kind of feels like a jet lag trance. But no time to worry about that, its race morning!!! After our usual porridge and smoothie, it was time to head over to transition to set up. We had prepared our transition bags the night before, so it was as simple as wheeling our bikes over and taking our time to make sure our transition area was how we want it. The plan was to get to the start of the swimming queue and get into the water early but unfortunately the fog had descended. Initially, we were told to all line up on one side of the lake and blow the fog away… I don’t think many people took this request seriously. Delay after delay until the organisers had to make the difficult decision to cancel the swim. Disaster… this meant all the uber bikers that struggle with the swim get an immediate advantage. Oh well, it is what it is. At least we get to race and I don’t have to wash my wetsuit… bonus!

A duathlon in a time trial format was announced. At which point everyone rushed back to transition to get their wetsuits off and queue up to set off. While the vast majority faffed around wondering what to do next, me, Soph and a few other keenos headed over to the start of the bike course. I think I managed to start in 4th position. Knowing that this format would most likely lead to big bike groups forming, I was keen to get away and avoid the masses. We went from 0 to 100 in a matter of seconds. My plan was simple, stay within 12m (draft legal) of the strong riders at the front and hold on for dear life. I was surprised to stick with the front 2 riders quite comfortably for the first 10km but after a roundabout turnaround and lapse in concentration, they put the power down and I didn’t have the legs to get back on. After spiking my heart rate chasing, I decided to bike my own race until I was inevitably caught by another group. It was about 10km later I was caught by a group of 3 that was going a good pace for me to ride with. As there were only 4 of us in the group, it was easy for us to hold a 12m gap (unfortunately some of the bigger groups were exploiting the 12m rule… where were the draft marshalls?). We took turns leading out the group for the rest of the ride with the odd uber rider biking round us pushing crazy power numbers. With the new COVID safe aid stations where you had to self serve, I decided to skip the aid stations to stay in the race. This led to serious lack of water 20km from the end of the bike. However, with a bike accident on the course right next to the aid station, which we had to walk around, I was able to grab a bottle. (Hoping that everyone involved in accidents on the day, has recovered fully). This led to me biking the remainder of the bike on my own. Knowing I was in 6th position overall at this point and having a very fast bike split, motivation was at an all time high. Overall bike split 2:14:20, 40km/ph average, normalised power 250ish. Fastest bike split to date and could have been faster if not for the walk.  I came back to transition, nailed my flying dismount (note to show Soph some demos 😉). Then I was in and out of transition smoothly. Socks and trainers on, grabbed my bag with nutrition, watch and hat, and I was off. 

The run was 3 laps, mainly trail run albeit flat trail run. Knowing the first lap would be quiet and the final two I would be jumping around other athletes, I was keen to get going before the course became too busy. I wasn’t expecting a crazy fast run with my run training taking set backs this year but felt comfortable on the day… no knee pain which is amazing. For those that know me, I prefer to run on smooth tarmac, preferably in a straight line, so the main aim was not to get injured as there were more important races to come this season. So true to my nature, I was tentative on the trail and pushed hard on the road. Feeling comfortable throughout the run, I pushed on a bit on the final lap, knowing that in the time trial starting format, there could be competitors behind me with a faster time. The finish line fast approached but felt like I had more in me… maybe I should do full ironman distance… maybe I just need to run faster… final run time 1:28:00 with a low average heart rate. Okish time but nothing to brag about and no where near competitive enough to compete for the overall positions. 

Final position was 17th out of 1000ish competitors. Extremely happy with my bike and the progress I’ve made there, slightly disappointed with my run. But with many more races to come this season, it’s a good season opener for my first (non virtual) middle distance race of the season… Hopefully the next one I will get to swim as well. 

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