2 of 9 Clumber Duathalon

What was the event? Run 1 – 54:18 An out and back course on a good surface through wooded park land. The surface was better than a trail and really was more akin to tarmac. Even though the first run was out and back twice, it honestly was a pretty enough setting that this didn’t…

Set in the picturesque National Trust property of Clumber Park, the Tri Society Duathlon was a really enjoyable event and on quite a grand scale. Here are some post race thoughts and a little write up. But in brief; highly recommended. If you haven’t done it then certainly think about adding it to your calendar for next year. 

What was the event?

Hosted by the Tri Society, Clumber Park Duathlon comprised of a sprint and a standard distance duathlon (I opted for the standard). With were qualifying events (Europeans & Worlds respectively) and with that came a high degree of scrutiny from British Tri judges and officials, as well as a very competitive field. To contextualise “competitive”, I was pleased to have managed a sub 3hr time, where as the winner of my age group finished sub 2hrs… 

A lot of effort had gone into the bike course, with professional traffic management to help everyone get through the course unimpeded. So whilst you were on open roads, the usually issues of junctions were largely dealt with. 

My goal for the event was to try and finish in sub 3hrs (which would be a PB). I have finished in 3:10 at this distance and always felt that I should have pushed harder. 


Run 1 – 54:18

An out and back course on a good surface through wooded park land. The surface was better than a trail and really was more akin to tarmac. Even though the first run was out and back twice, it honestly was a pretty enough setting that this didn’t feel as dull as it could have done.

Flat it was not. Objectively there was nothing horrendous, but certainly and undulating course. Best described by one of the other athletes as “enough ups and downs to keep you honest”. A few very short but steep sections gave you reason to take note.

I elected to start near the near back of my wave and my plan was to run conservatively for the first 5k and then pick the pace up for the second part. But felt really good at after the first 2k and was running well above my planned pace. Decide to “split the difference” and see what happens. I know… But as luck would have it (?) it all worked well. Wanted to run circa 58 mins and so 54 and feeling absolutely fine was a good day in the office.

One comment about the run course was the aid station. Small cups of High5 or water. No gels or anything else and one aid station. I tend to leave my energy drink in transition so don’t need the aid station, but if you do then prepare to be disappointed. Also it was largely manned by children which rapidly ended up being self service!

T1 – 2:22

After Thruxton, I remember to put elastic laces on my running trainers. Tick. Already had a base layer on (and was sweltering) so no need for a change of top for the bike. Not really sure how I managed to waste so much time. But a couple of mouthfuls of drink and bottle on the bike; saw me good to go. I assume I must have sauntered gently to Bike Mount. Overall impression was that I could pull my finger out here and save a minute just by tidying up my transition.  

Bike – 1:22:50

A few things… if the run course was undulating then the bike course was CERTAINLY undulating! Again nothing that you would describe as a notable climb, but the whole lap (this was 2 x 20k) felt like you were either climbing or descending. The exception being the straight and flat section down Lime Trees (about 1k tree lined road into the park). Flat but full of pot holes and properly rubbish surface. In the words of one male athlete : “my under carriage was totally destroyed on that section”. He was riding a P5 with some deep rims, which did not look like a particularly soft ride at the best of times!

Pre-event we had received an email highlighting the weather forecast and the potential for high winds and to think about your choices for bike set up. It was windy! I elected to go with a road bike and my climbing wheels (as they are light and fantastic in the wind). Given the wind, the surface, the undulating course on balance I think I got it about right. I am pleased to say that my “under carriage” was indeed NOT destroyed 😉

One really novice error was that I forgot to calibrate and adjust my pwoermeter pedals. Having moved them from my TT bike, they were set to the wrong crank crank length and I didn’t calibrate them before the start. I realised all of this as I was on the Bike Mount line. Too late to do anything about… Therefore the power data was completely wrong. To be fair I am so used to my Vector peddles letting me down that it was no drama that I hadn’t set them up. Just ignored them as usual.

The bike felt slow. My target time was 1:30. But I did find that on the second lap I was catching and passing a good number of people. The final time was a welcome surprise and given the first run time, it started to occur to me that actually if I just kept it together on the second run I could achieve my personal goal!

T2 – 1:41

Have to say that I was feeling less good now and starting to reflect on how much harder duathlon is to triathlon. Also I had made a tactical error before the race of putting a base layer on instead of arm warmers. Stupid really as I only did so because everyone else seemed to be dressed for cold. I was bloody hot on run one, and even though the wind had now picked up, so had the temperature. Couple of mouth fulls of water and as one of my clients would say I “stopped dollying about” and headed out for the final run.

Run 2 – 28:41

The same undulating course as before but obviously half the distance so out and back once. Felt like I was running through treacle! The increased head wind on the way out and the accumulated fatigue meant that my porky little trotters were having none of it. Properly tired and pretty much lost all interest. 

Purely to give my mind something to do other than think about quitting, I decided to check my stats and do some in race planning. Surprisingly I was still running sub 6min/k which boded well and my HR was also looking good at around 120. Even though my mind was suggesting that we just walk back and give up, actually my body was in OK shape. Interesting.

My wave started at 09:05 which meant that so long as I finished before 12:05 I was up for a PB. It was 11:25 ish and I only had 4k to run (less than a park run – you can do anything for 4k right!!). So a quick motivational chat along the lines of “Ed – now is not the time to be shit at this. Get it together and get on with it.”

Pushed on started to think about a sprint finish. I do love a good sprint finish 😉 Mostly because you get a name check and lots of people cheer you on. Yes, I really am as shallow as a puddle! I wanted to try and do this in under 30mins, so I’m pleased with my 28mins

In Summary – 2:49:59

No tee-shirt (VERY poor show), but got a rather naff buff thing instead. Poor drink station and even worse nothing on offer at the finish line other than a cup of water or High5. Again VERY disappointed – some token effort at refreshments would have gone some way for making up for the lack of tee-shirt. Medal was nice though. Not the best but equally not the worst. Organisation was OK and nothing to complain about. Would I do it again? Yes, the setting was outstanding. 

I achieved my sub 3hr Standard Race. But the rest of the results was a little less pleasing. Probably more a reflection of the quality of the field though rather than a complete lack of progress on my part. I did OK really 😉

Overal239 of 259
Men185 of 197
50 – 54 Male44 of 47

The winning age group male finished in 1:52:01 so nearly an HOUR faster than me, doing his first 10k run in 35:28 and his 5k in 18:07. Yes completely out classed, but happily so! 


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