This was the major race on the Calendar for me with regard my commitments to Iain, this was also (on paper) my last race with him in 2010.
When racing National events we are very familiar with our competition, we know their strengths and weaknesses, we know ho far we need to be ahead on the run and know what to pace accordingly. This was a different race altogether, we knew we were up against a German (Raulf Arnold) and US pairing that we had no previous experience off and being a Duathlon rather that Triathlon also knew that we would be up against it missing out on the swim section and having 2 runs.
The build up was a little all over the place with the rules being changed almost hourly leading up. First Iain would have to wear blackouts then it was removed, then added again. They also tried to make all competitors wear blackouts for the entire race, even the bike which in many athletes opinions would be dangerous. They also banned discs (despite being no wind) and calf guards. Many of the T6 cat athletes didn't bring glasses with them, although some were supplied - whether these were worn or not is a different matter.
Transition set up was interesting with Jill being told that having an IM branded bag was inappropriate (being an ITU event) and had to turn it round. Transition was also full of random 'helpers' and children which was a little worrying and also after the briefing had been very strict over who could come in was also surprising.
The German Pair had a lovely tandem with tri-spoke front and disc rear (disc ruling overturned as the Paratriathlon was classed as Elite). They also had toe clips rather than SPD's so would be cycling in their run shoes - this could have been a tactical decision that would make or break, especially on a hilly course. They were also having some problems with their set up and were being aided by the GB Mechanics (which was rather sporting I must say!)
We found out later that the German Pairing were the bronze medallists at the Track Championships (or something like that) - this was going to be interesting.
The start was delayed by 10-15mins as the opening ceremony was still going - the toilets weren't even unlocked by the time we started (a few of us had to open some up for the athletes). As we were being introduced by Loudspeaker (we didn't even get to the last athlete and hadn't lined up) the claxton went and we were off much to the confusion of many of the racers.
We tried to keep with the German pair on the run but were also conscious that we needed to save some energy - this was the first Duathlon either of us had done so we didn't know how the run bike run format would effect us.
We hit T1 46 seconds down on the Arnold and surprised ourselves by making a couple of seconds up on them in T1 (despite them opting for the quicker Toe Clip option). The mount was OK but not as smooth as we would have liked and being very conscious of the events in Notts we eased into the pace and caught them within the first 500m.
We pushed really hard on the bike and by the end of the event had lapped all but the German Pair and had put 6 minutes into them on the bike (we heard later that they had stalled and fallen on one of the steep sections, probably due to the toe clips). We were both getting a little bit of cramp by the end of the bike but new that as long as we could run the final leg without pulling up that the 5min lead we had would be enough - they had put less than a minute into us on the first run which was double the distance.
We crossed the line in good shape and second from all athletes racing. Iain won his category by 5mins 27 seconds in 1:19:20 and was in great shape for his A race the following week at Budapest. It would have been good to have had some massages available but they didn't seem to think that the Paratriathletes would need them, we were also restricted from having the nice looking Sports drink that was lying around as was for agegroupers which I though was a little harsh!)
- As an ex-National League Basketball player I took up triathlon as a development from cross training. I won my first Sprint distance race and placed second in my first Olympic distance. Since then I have raced the UK Elite Superseries coming 24th in the National Elite Champs, raced Vegas 70.3 WChamps and helped Paratriathlete Iain Dawson to World, European and National Titles. In 2011 I obtained Pro authorisation from the BTF and am pushing my development by stepping up to top level competition in 2012. Aside from this I am a L1 Swim and Tri coach and Professional Lloyds Broker.