What with the global pandemic disrupting multi-sport racing in the UK and focusing on keeping my fitness business growing, I have had little opportunity to go to any races. And therefore there has been a bit of an absence of my little “race reports”. But today I can put the record straight, and with nine duathlons in my calendar, I have now ticked off number 1 : Thruxton Full Throttle Sprint Duathlon. Here is what I thought and broadly what happened!
What was the event?
This was broadly a super sprint based at a car racing circuit (Thruxton) and therefore exact distances were determined by the track length. So the course was Run 1 3.8k / Bike 19k / Run 2 3.8k.
Quite a small field of circa 60 athletes. I gather this was the first time the event had been held and was a bit of a tester for a British Tri Qualifier that they are hosting in the Autumn.
Pro’s and Con’s to the location. Certainly easy to get to with ample parking, smooth traffic free surface and novel start using the Grid lights. A small field meant there was a ton of room for transition and not even I could lose my bike. Finally there were proper toilets (it’s amazing how important that is!). On the down side though you are basically running and cycling multiple loops of something designed to be exciting for high speed cars. I was having a fairly good day, but even so it was still not an exciting course at the speeds I was doing haha… It was pretty dull really, and after the first lap became very tedious (scenery…). To be fair, because it was a short lap that helped and it wasn’t as dull as Silverstone (or even the run course at Box End), but I would have preferred open roads and a more varied scenery.
Having got my gripe about a dull course out of the way, I should quickly say that overall the event was really well organised and I did enjoy the friendly atmosphere and helpful team that ran it. Booking (which I did VERY last minute) was easy and efficient on their website, although the somewhat patronising (and plentiful) check boxes emphasising you are not getting a refund grated a bit. But only a bit. Admin was efficient, check in was friendly and prompt on the day. Transitions set up was well managed and the Race Director seemed friendly.
The big thing about this event was that it was being run as a Draft Legal race (quite unusual) so no TT bikes or aero tweaks. Now, it could well be that somewhere on the track a peloton formed and worked together. I didn’t see that. I saw lots of people spread out after the run but using road bikes instead of maximising the potential of the course on faster TT’s. As I say, others may have enjoyed a draft assisted race, but for me I was not close enough to the pointy end of proceedings to have enjoyed drafting.
This went well and felt good. Basically a flat course for 4k with a little hill towards the end of the lap which was just about into wind. Sun came out and it felt warm – I was over dressed. Realised pretty quickly that this was a fast pack so had the sense to not chase them but rather settled into my own pace. Ran it in 17:58 which was an average pace of 4:52/km For me that is right in Z5 sub threshold. So pretty much the most I could do. Form felt solid and HR was manageable. OK it wasn’t a race winning performance, but it was the best I could hope to do (and still be able to transition). Happy. Tick.
This went super well. But then with no wet suit to fight with there is a lot less to go wrong. 1min 11 to change hat, shoes, put my lippy on (JOKE!) and trot the short distance to the mount line. Getting going on the bike was a bit sloppy with some time lost trying to get clipped in. But overall, nothing much to change with this. Happy. Tick.
Five laps. 19k of smooth tarmac and no traffic or other delays. I have not managed as much time outdoors on the bike as I should have and I certainly have been riding VERY slowly when I have been out. Therefore this was always going to be a lottery! 37:50 for the bike leg with an average 18.5 mph which whilst not outstanding was better than I would have hoped for. Would certainly have gone faster on the TT on this course, but given the lack of speed on outdoor rides this year, I can live with this. Was comfortable on the drops. Felt good and got most of the lines right. Just need to spend more time out riding faster and harder. With the new evening league TT starting soon I’m pretty confident that me bike fitness will build for the main races of the year. Not unhappy. More work to do.
Not as slick, but mostly because I forgot to put elastic laces on my trainers (not been doing much multi-sport recently so they are set for running… My excuse and I’m sticking to it). Also fingers were numb so trying to tie laces was slow. Legs felt really fatigued on the way out of transition, so a few more Brick sessions and some better endurance training would be a good plan. Could do better. Needs work. But at 1:15 it was not a complete disaster by any means.
By this point the race was pretty strung out and it was obvious that I was very much at the blunt end! But still, I mostly wanted to get a sense of where I am after not having raced for a long time. Wanted a benchmark and a day out! Certainly got all of that and actually being in a fast field does make you push harder so that was helpful.
Anyway back to the second run. Legs were feeling heavy and it seemed very hard to get into a rhythm. Had to really concentrate to get my form together – but luckily that is my strong suit! Was surprised to find that my pace had not fallen apart as much as it felt like. 19:14 so I was 2mins slower than the first run but still averaged 5:11/km which was a lot better than it felt.
I always like to try and find a sprint finish as it is good for my ego! Today was no different and didn’t disappoint, hitting 2:53/km as I crossed the line.
Despite the whole “scenery” thing, I would certainly race there again, particularly if it is a lunchtime start and therefore not needing an overnight stop. It was well organised and a very friendly / helpful team at Challenging Events. Certainly worth recommending.
Final results : Overall placing 36 / 59, Gender 26 / 30 and Age Group was 4 / 4. Age group winner was 1:03:37 compared to my 1:17:30. More training to do over the next couple of blocks. But next race in three weeks will really be another benchmarking exercise.