Oulton Park Duathlon was a great day out. I did the sprint distance at this event a couple of years ago when I first started out in triathlon and multisport and didn’t have a great day. I look back and see how far I’ve come since then.
Race Date: 13/04/14
Race Type: Standard Distance Duathlon
Result: 11th AG
Performance: Satisfied 7/10
My first standard distance duathlon – Run 10k / Bike 40k / Run 5k – and as art of the England National Championship, organised by Function Fitness Events. This was telling with a very strong field and some big performances across the age groups.
A flat and fast course around the beautiful Newby Hall near Ripon in North Yorkshire, with the run route taking on a small stint on the trails and gravel path around the grounds. A tight, narrow but nearly fully closed bike route was windy and exposed but made for a fast pace.
Run 1 – 43:17
I set off with the pace of around 7:10 minute miles in mind. I held this and stuck to the plan to bring home a solid 10k, actually my second best ever time over the distance in all competitions. I was warm and had thought I’d over-dressed slightly, but this was to be levelled out come the bike leg!
I felt I still had something in the tank at the end of the run, and had watched the field run ahead, ending the leg in 111th.
Bike – 1:13:47
I used elastic bands on my clipped in bike shoes for the first time, something I practised on the park the day before. this worked a treat and I was out on the bike in a good time. I just got my head down and worked my ass off on the bike, not holding back at all. My recent riding and hard turbo sessions had got me psychologically ready to be riding hard for 25 miles. I made up a lot of places on the bike and posted the 42nd best time of the day, holding around 20.5mph average.
It was the first time I’d used my Cole T50 wheels and also my Giro Air Attack in competition. I was very happy with these and they certainly made a step up in performance.
Run 2 – 22:19
Again, I went through transition in a good time and was out on the final lap of the run. I just tried to hang on and see what I had left. It was beginning to hurt and I just had to bring it home. It was good to give myself a good beasting and get some sharpness back that you can only really achieve in a race situation. You will work harder under race conditions regardless. I pushed to the end, and took 72nd overall and 11th in my Age Group.
Finish time: 2:20:38
Overall not a bad result considering the strength and depth of the national Age Group field and also pleasing to see my tempo runs paying off alongside a very solid bike leg, which I take most pleasure from.
A nice course, well ran event and perhaps a good early start to my 2014 season.
Triathlon England Race Report – REPORT
Free Photography – PHOTOS
Full Results – RESULTS
Controversial Referee’s Report – REPORT
Before I begin my personal account of my own day, it is worth noting that the following day of the duathlon the competitors received an e-mail from the event organiser (Functional Fitness) in regard to the referee’s report of the race. I first saw this posted on facebook and was later contacted in the day via e-mail. Bit of an odd one this, as I have never been contacted by the organiser so quickly and in such a bad mood! It did smell a bit of anger and desperation that their hard work had been scrutinised beyond their ideal outcome. A bit needy to ask for us to back him up & bring us into his war with Triathlon England!
To be 100% honest I didn’t really think about the course being ‘dangerous’ at the time of competing, I just took it for what it was, you have to beat what’s in front of you. There were plenty of potholes on the course. The half road closure was narrow and tight, but I was more concerned about being accidentally caught drafting because it was so tight. I did have to ride outside of the cones on several occasions to over take, but I did this calmly and judged in plenty of time. I checked over my shoulder each time that it was safe for me to go on to the open road. The wind made it trickier in the tight lines.
Where the accident occurred in the race, which is referred to in the report, was in hindsight was probably not very safe on paper. Turning left into narrow on coming traffic was exaggerated by the cross winds, so there was added potential for something to go wrong.
Like I say, at the time of riding, I didn’t feel unsafe or in any danger because of the course. However, this is probably where my own controversy appears. There were some poor riders out there. Before I saw this referee report I was back at my sisters house talking to her about how surprised I was at the poor riding skills on show. I also felt this when I did Ironman UK 2013. I sound like a massive billy big balls here, but perhaps the event organiser underestimated the range of abilities to deem what was safe for some, might not be for others.
Last minute swerving from a pothole was just down to not looking far enough ahead. Give yourself time to adjust and spot obstacles in advance. Your wheels will thank you and the gradual movement around them carries your speed in a straighter line.
There was a lot of changing line, hopping from one side of the road to the other. Perhaps in search of some shelter from the wind, but very unpredictable for riders coming from behind.
What I was surprised by is people’s lack of riding knowledge in terms of carrying speed and momentum through a corner. This is basic stuff, ‘The Racing Line’, carrying momentum through a corner. Dad would always say it’s all about how fast you can come out of a corner that will carry you down the next straight. People don’t use apexes. Riding into a corner and taking it as a 90 degree corner rather than as a bend, that flows through, hit the line and get on the gas when you straighten up. This also makes the corner a lot wider and increases the margin for error.
Cattle grids weren’t an issue. There was enough warning in the race briefing to be aware of the inevitable runners/riders on the course at similar times to take into account that this will happen. I felt the course was signposted adequately enough, but when on a stretch on the bike on my own, I did have to have a look round to make sure there was someone else going my way, I wasn’t lost was I?
I think the referee had a rather large chip on their shoulder to write such a damming report, but I also feel there will be things that the event organiser will amend for future races. It was great event, very beautiful grounds and setting and a flat, fast course that I believe was enjoyed by the majority of participants. It’s a shame this has been the first thing to comment on before my actual personal race report.
At the end of the day, racing of any type will have it’s dangers. There should never be a need to feel you can’t race because you feel the course is too dangerous, you take on what is in front of you. I’ve always viewed my fairly short triathlon experience as a test of myself against a course, a distance or a time. This was no different. You just get your head down and take on the challenges that are arise that day.
I would defiantly do this event again, it is only with hindsight that the safety has been brought into question and taken away from what was actually a fantastic event. Nor do I want to shift the blame on my fellow competitors for the unfortunate accident that happened. I do feel races will bring out that extra animal, that extra 1% that will make you take a corner a bit quicker than you’d usually feel comfortable with, but it also important to ride within your abilities. It’s not just sit on and pedal and the fittest guys wins. A tri bike, on narrow lanes, in a cross wind will be a difficult beast to tame, heightened by the circumstances of a race day red mist.
Play safe kids.