Ballbuster Duathlon, Box Hill, Surrey.
Saturday 15 March 2008
Box Hill provides a mixture of woodland and chalk downland, with stunning views of the South Downs - it is used by road cyclists and mountain bikers alike and hosts many events such as fell racing and orienteering.
Dire weather had been forecasted and driving to the race venue for an 08:00 start it looked like race conditions would be as predicted, fortunately however the rain held off and the weather steadily improved. Driving the course before the race gave a glimpse of the road conditions, some sharp, wet and gritty corners meant upmost care would have to be taken on the bike.
Listening to anyone who has done the race before <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nba9tb-xaV8> the recurring message is to take the first run steady, with this in mind I set off and kept an eye on the heart-rate, the first 8 miles where un-eventfull and I entered T1 feeling in good shape. My plan for the bike was to take the first two laps steady and take on sufficient fuel to push through the final bike lap and have a strong second run. I set off on the bike and went out a little too fast on the first lap, I stuck to my nutrition plan - 1/2 a banana each of the first two laps and 500ml energy drink. On the third lap I backed off a bit and started thinking about the final run. One thing to note about this race is the zig-zag, a tough climb that comes at the end of each lap - it's fairly steep and ensures your legs are thoroughly tested before the final run. Coming into T2 I was along side the lead female, we ran together for approximately 6miles of the last lap, pushing each other on (I certainly wouldn't have run that hard alone!) until I suffered with cramps which effectively mean as far as racing goes I was done, it was now a case of hanging on. I could have done with more than the one gel and small amount of water I carried on the run. The last couple of miles where grim, the end couldn't come soon enough :).
3:04:24, pleasing, and good enough for 21st overall. Well done to Matt who came storming through with the fourth fastest 2nd run of the day and earnt him 14th overall.
I enjoyed the event and would recommend it to anyone looking for a challenge or who is training for a later season long course event - don't be put off by talk of it being equivalent to a marathon - for one you get to take the weight off your feet for three laps! A suggestion for the race organisers would be to have another water station, there was only one on the course and I was glad I carried water with me on the second run - I could have done with more though.
All in all, a good event and easy to get to from S.E London, I plan to race this next spring and nail that second run - sub 3 next time...