Report from Howard:
The duathlon season started for me on Saturday and I ventured down to Clumber Park to do the standard distance of 10k run, 40K bike and finished off with a 5K run. It is a beautiful part of the world but if I am able to admire the scenery I am not racing hard enough. The race was a qualifier for the world age group championships in Penticton, Canada later in the year and next year’s European championships at a venue to be decided. I like a mystery. I had already pre-qualified for Canada last year by surviving the heat of Alviles in Spain better than my rivals (they set of too fast and burned up). So the test was to get an automatic place for the Euro’s. I had reviewed the start list and thought I would be in about eighth place which is out of auto placing (the top 4 in the age group) and in the realms of fingers crossed for a roll down. All was not lost as the fastest in the age category (a professional triathlon coach) will be in the next age group so I did not have to worry about him. Four guys in my age group and two moving up an age group, whose previous times were all better. The chap who finished second was yesterday in front but I had followed him out on the first 10K and it was like being paced. I got to the transition just in front but I felt I could have gone quite a bit faster although I did not want to pay for it on the bike like I did last year. It turned out he had not realised it was a Euro qualifier for next year so had not registered so another one less to worry about. Just as well as he shot off on the bike and was never seen again. My bike ride was two minutes faster than last year despite a strong wind on the two lap circuit. Transitions were fairly good and the last 5K felt ‘comfortably difficult’. I was within a minute of last years’ time which I was pleased with having had a virus over Christmas and missing two races with a stiff calf. Qualification was going to be hard as these races are more and more popular and people are keen to sport the GB kit and the field was 25% bigger than last year and it was my first time on the bike since last October so not yet race sharp. Two other guys in my age group finished in front and one from the lower group so I managed to finish in sixth place in the age group and the fourth registered so automatic qualification. I was able to grit my teeth and out-race the other two who I expected to finish in front.
I did have to feel sorry for an 80 year old who finished the race, had registered for the worlds but got disqualified for ‘nudity’. He was just getting out of wet kit which is hard enough and he was trying to be discreet about it but fell foul of the rules. I have emailed British Triathlon to intercede and get him re-instated if they can.