I Am A Duathlete : London Duathlon Recap

Mark and I have just got back from a fun week camping on the Isle of Wight – we left pretty early on Monday morning to catch the ferry from Portsmouth (it’s cheaper if you leave at an unearthly hour!) and then my phone decided to die whilst we were away, so I was properly cut off from the world! It was quite nice to take a break though, and forget about things for a few days, even if I did come back to hundreds of emails!

The Needles, IOW

Anyway, because of jetting off so quickly I didn’t have a chance to write a recap of the London Duathlon which I took part in last Sunday, so let’s rewind to last weekend…

My stats

On 15th September 2013, over 3000 runners and cyclists gathered in the stunning surroundings of Richmond Park to put their abilities to the test.

From 8:30am athletes of all levels and abilities took to the roads of Richmond Park to tackle one of the five run-bike-run challenges, from the Ultra distance (20k run, 77k cycle, 10k run) to the Super Sprint (5k run, 11k cycle, 5k run), with variations in between. There was even an option to race the event as a relay, as Leah did, with her tackling the running, and her boyfriend the cycling.

I participated in the Super Sprint distance which seemed like the perfect beginner duathlete challenge!

Mark and I drove to Richmond Park (I’d reserved a Parking Spot with my entry so we were guaranteed a space) arriving just before 1pm for the 2pm race start. Walking to the race village I saw hundreds of cyclists and runners already on the course (Laura whizzed past me looking strong and yelled “hi”), and the nerves started to kick in.

After a quick brakes and helmet check I entered the transition area to rack my bike, trying hard to follow all the tips I’d picked up about remembering where your bike is, making sure it’s easy to spot, organising everything neatly etc… As I don’t have bike shoes yet (clipless pedals are definitely on the to-do list to help beast those hills!) my pile of things was pretty small – just my helmet, a towel, sunglasses (I guess I was feeling optimistic!) and some Gu chomps.

I jogged around a bit trying to work off some of the nervous energy, and ate a Gu gel about 20minutes before the race. I’d opted to have banana and peanut butter porridge for “brunch” at about 11am so felt pretty well fuelled.

I bumped into Charlie (who’d already run 10miles to get to Richmond Park!) and we entered the start pen together, along with the other Super Sprinters. There was quite a mix of people – some who were obviously doing it as a real “sprint” and some, like me, who were taking it as an introduction to the world of multisport events! Charlie and I were filtered into the second group of 25 runners to be let off, and after a quick rules and pep talk from one of the event stewards (no littering, keep to the left, enjoy yourself!), the horn sounded and it had begun…

The Race
Having never taken part in a multisport event, and lacking in brick training apart from one session in Richmond Park a few weeks ago, the main goal was to “finish in under 2 hours and not fall off my bike”!

Charlie and I setting off

Charlie and I ran together for the first 100m or so but I didn’t want to get caught up and run too fast too early on, so when she ran ahead I waved and settled into my own rhythm.

My “official photographer” (thanks Mark!) managed to get some good shots of the race (and some fairly terrible grimaces on my part).

For the first 5k I felt pretty strong – I knew the route as we had cycled it during my brick session, so I just enjoyed the scenery and tried not to think about what was to come, while also remembering that my legs had to still cycle 11k and run another 5k, so not to get too carried away!

4k of the first run down…

I did get a slight stitch which was annoying – perhaps not the best idea to eat a gel so close before the race, or maybe I set off a bit too fast. Anyway, when we got to transition I walked a fair bit to my bike trying to get rid of it.

First 5k = 33:48 (av. pace 10:53min/mile)

The walking meant my first transition was quite slow, considering all I had to do was put my helmet on and pick up my bike. But I was quite happy to take it steady and follow the stream of people out onto the bike course.

T1 = 2:55

Mark caught me just coming out of transition, feeling happy and raring to go!

Unfortunately about 2k into the lap the heavens opened and it started pouring with rain. One of the things I was most worried about was cycling in the rain, as I hadn’t yet taken my new road bike out on wet surfaces, and put my whole “not falling off” goal in a little jeopardy.

The marshalls were all directing everybody to slow down around the corners, and there were signs indicating “steep climb”, “steep descent” which was useful for someone who didn’t know the course. I opted to take it a bit slower, although still managing to overtake some people on the flats and downhills thanks to my lovely bike 🙂

Broomfield Hill was a killer- short and steep with no run-up. I just kept pushing, and was relieved to make it to the top without having to get off! Several people did (right in front of me, arrgh!) and although I thought my lungs would burst I survived, panting and wheezing like a steam train and sure my thighs were going to spontaneously combust. I definitely need some more hill training!

The remainder of the course was undulating, and with the rain pelting down obscuring my vision and running off my helmet, and constantly feeling on edge in case I skidded or slipped I was pretty exhausted by the time I made it back to transition- see the below photo!

Bike = 33:20 (av. speed 12.5mph)

I actually hopped off my bike and ran with it a short distance to my racking spot, just to wake my legs up a little for the second 5k. Everything was pretty soggy but I grabbed a towel to dry my face, removed my helmet and was out of there as fast as I could, remembering to pick up my packet of Gu chomps.


T2 = 54secs (!)

No idea what I’m doing here – some weird wave/rocker handsign…Nutter

I was feeling pretty hysterical by this point- I ran out onto the course, smiling at Mark and laughing at how soaked I was, and the marshall told me to “not stop smiling” 🙂

Checking my watch…
I knew the last 5k was going to be tough, but to be honest it wasn’t as bad as I feared. I think perhaps my legs were a little cold and numb by this point as they weren’t hurting, just felt really heavy. Perhaps my padded shorts were a bit soggy too and were weighing me down!
I broke the run into sections, taking walking breaks to eat a Gu chomp whenever I needed it (they’re great, like little sweets!) and trying to wipe the rain off my face with my increasingly more useless wet towel.
There were very few spectators left by this point, but the marshalls were brilliant – cheering, offering words of encouragement and smiles, despite them being stood in the rain for hours.

As I made it to the finishing chute I could see Mark waiting for me, and heard the MC announce my name over the PA system, which was a nice touch. The race village was now mostly deserted, but all I could see was that banner over the finish line saying “I am now a #Duathlete”.

Second 5k = 35:53 (av. pace 11:33min/mile)

It may sound overly emotional, but I got a little choked up. I crossed the line my arms in the air, and had to take a few breaths to stop myself bursting into tears. Probably partly due to being exhausted and soaking wet, but also I honestly didn’t know if I could do it. Each individual element on their own, sure, no problem – but together? 2 hours of continuous exercise in the cold, wind and rain? A year ago I’d have laughed in your face at the suggestion. So yes, I was a little emotional at the achievement 🙂

Total time = 1:46:50

Once I’d managed to compose myself, I collected my medal, goody bag, banana and water bottle. The medals are nice and chunky (although they don’t say which distance you completed), and the Mars bar in the goody bag was especially welcome!
I wore my Garmin FR10 during the whole event, mostly for the overall total time elapsed, and didn’t really look at it much whilst actually racing. Consequently I’m very pleased with my times, especially for the running. I haven’t raced a 5k for a while so my PB is 34mins-something, looks like I can do a lot better than that now. And I definitely achieved my goal of finishing under 2hours and not falling off the bike!
Running without headphones was also another plus of the event, as it made me more aware of my surroundings – Richmond Park is gorgeous even in the rain, and seeing deer roaming alongside (and sometimes on the road in front of me!) was great. I think I also paid more attention to how I felt, instead of trying to drown out my aches with music.
I just want to mention Crossfit as well, which I feel has counted for a lot in increasing my strength- even if it’s just the will to keep going through the pain and mentally know that I am strong enough!
Congratulations to everybody who took part in the London Duathlon- you can read more race recaps here:
The Runner Beans (Charlie)
The Style Dynamo (aka Speedy Becs)
Beki x

I was given a place in the London Duathlon by Limelight Sports, but as always all opinions are my own. 
To enter London Duathlon 2014, please visit  for further information
Join other #duathletes and follow London Duathlon on Facebook and Twitter or @londonduathlon
Share on
Previous Post Next Post

You may also like