Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Event Review : Dinton Duathlon

The alarm goes off at 6am and I lie there for half an hour, playing with my phone, checking the weather report, making calculations, finding every excuse not to get up and trying to shoot them all down again. Eventually I drag myself out of bed and climb into my trisuit but it's not until I've made a strong coffee and some choco-nana porridge for breakfast that I accept that I'm actually going to attempt the Dinton Duathlon.

I don't usually um and err so much about events but I'm not a confident cyclist and ever since falling off at cycle training I've even more nervous about it. I can cycle. I've cycled the exact distance I was to complete at the duathlon, at each of my triathlons, but I'm inexperienced on the roads and I hadn't trained at all. Add in to that an early start on a cold, dark, foggy Sunday and it was a hard won battle to even get to the start line. Would I fall off? Would I hate it? Would I feel guilty if I didn't even try?Would I get lost? Could I live with forgoing the entry fee? Would I come last? Well someone has to... In the end the deal I made with myself was that if I didn't attempt it I would have to paint my bathroom and do a long run but if I did I could watch films all afternoon. And it'd all be over by 11-ish. Deal. For once my bike goes in the car easily and I'm treated to a gorgeous sunrise on the way to Dinton Pastures.

As regular readers will know, I've participated in the 10k series several time at Dinton in the past so was familiar with the run route and level of organisation to expect. This event was no exception to the fun, friendly and excellent organisational standards that I'd come to expect. Parking, although not free, was a stones throw from the transition area, start line and race HQ.

Collecting my race pack was quick and easy and I had plenty of help with attaching numbers to various bits of kit and racking my bike correctly. The marshal in transition was especially helpful and reassuring, telling me there were plenty of other first timers and to "cycle to smile" when I explained how nervous I was. What a wonderful piece of advice. I had another bout of nerves just before the race briefing and turned to a lady in registration for some more reassurance. She was ever so sweet and I made it to the start line feeling a bit better.

There were around 150 entrants including a few relay teams and so the start line felt quite intimate. The fog was clearing, it wasn't too cold and the rain was staying at bay; and then we were off! One girl tripped on the timing mat and several of us help her up. Ah, that's the sort of event it was going to be. Taking this is a sign to watch my footing I resolved to take it steady but still found myself comfortably at my usual 5k pace. The km markers appeared quickly and the cadets marshaling the course were in high spirits for teenagers up so early on a Sunday. This was the easy bit.
Actually taken on the 2nd lap. Credit Chris Drew
It seemed no time at all before I rounded the corner to head to transition, to find my registration lady looking out for me to say she looked forward to seeing me there again after the bike section. She got a huge grin in return. Helmet and gloves on, quick swig of nuun and I was wheeling my bike to the mount line. I took my time to get my feet in the pedals then I was off. Although on open roads the course was mostly quiet and about as flat as you can get with very few turns. Those that there were, were well signed and marshaled. For me it was just about perfect. I was lifted by the fact that I could see people in front of me; I'd expected to be on my own by this point. I was ecstatic when I managed to over take a couple of people. That's never happened before! A guy I recognised from Woodley parkrun over took me but I managed to keep him in sight. My bike was making all sorts of clicking noises because I'm not knowledgeable enough to know how to adjust my gears (I'm booked onto a bike maintenance course next month) but I was doing this! I was cycling! I wasn't falling off!  I wasn't going to let down my registration lady. A little mantra came into my head: "concentrate, foot down" i.e. keep your head down and just keep pedalling.
Credit Chris Drew
It worked. It got me to the end of the 20km cycle with a huge grin on my face. A marshal asked me how I'd found it and I managed to string something semi-coherant together about being so pleased. I wobbled my way into transition again. Rack bike, helmet and gloves off, another swig on nuun then force my legs to carry me back out onto the 5km run loop. It took a full mile before my legs felt as though they belonged to me again but I kept plugging away, over taking a couple more people and knowing that my post-cycle run is usually much quicker than it feels. I was back in my comfort zone and knew I'd finish.
My registration lady. Credit Chris Drew
And finish I did, in 1:51:49, a full 40 minutes after the winner. I didn't care, as far as I was concerned I'd won. I'd beaten the part of me that was scared and didn't want to do it. My registration lady was waiting again at the finish line with congratulations and my goody bag that contained a lovely medal, pen, granola bar and ever so useful thermos mug. I thanked her profusely but it didn't feel like enough.

I left on a high, but not before congratulating other first timers and people I had seen on the course. Even the battle to get the bike back in the car (it's as if it doesn't want to go home) couldn't diminish my sense of achievement. Doing the duathlon has definitely given me back a bit of confidence. I might do another in the future but cycling certainly isn't my forte or preference.

If you're within hitting distance of Dinton Pastures I recommend it as an event location and Barnes Fitness as event organisers. It felt as though there were almost half as many marshals as entrants, results are available immediately and event photos are free to download from the flickr group. HUGE thanks to Ellie Barnes for another great event. I'm hoping to take part in the aquathlon next year to complete the set.
My take away tips:
  • Ask for reassurance if you need it. No one wants you to fail and you will encounter the most wonderful support. 
  • Break down the challenge. You just need to get out of bed, then have breakfast, then get there, then run... etc...
My stats:
R1 29:15
T1 1:07
Bike 52:11
T2 0:41
R2 28:52
Total 1:51:49


  1. Well done! Great medal and you look really strong in the running pic! I'd love to have a go at one of these events!

    1. Thanks :) One of the better race pics, I must say. Definitely give duathlon a go if you get the chance, and smaller the better I reckon - nice and friendly, especially at the end of the season.