Thursday, June 7, 2018

Shearwater Navy Duathlon 2018 - Sorry no photos

So as I have done for many years now, I awoke on an early June morning to take part in the Navy Duathlon at Shearwater. The event has been going strong for awhile and combines what is usually the first Sprint Triathlon of the year (as they have a pool) and a Duathlon. Back when I started doing this we would have 20-30 people in the Duathlon, as everyone else was excited about being wet. In later years our numbers have slipped from that peak.

So this year I woke up and the wind was howling. It was June but the ambient temperature was a paltry 4 degrees and with the wind, I fear lower than that.

As I arrived at the race venue an hour before my start time (due to the pool swim it is wave starts) and was greeted by the news that the pool swim was  cancelled. The Race Director and TriNS Officials felt it was too great a risk to have athletes come outside wet from the swim, jump on a bike and probably end up getting hypothermia. So now everyone was in the Du! Competition! What likely would have been 8-10 people was now 104. We were still going to race in waves, so the results overall would have to wait until the end of the day though. 

So the start time came, we had a briefing, we almost blew away and or froze to death waiting to start the race (a few helmets blew away for sure in some of the gusts). Eventually we were off. As the event was 2.5 km run / 20 km Bike / 5 km run, I knew I needed to get off to a fast start to get ahead for the ride. I am a decent cyclist but by no means one of the faster guys out there. And on a hilly course with so many corners, I knew that I would need any lead I could get.

*the distances are the official ones, but each leg was slightly short, so I'll just give my paces / speed

I pushed out at the start and took off, hoping to come in first from the run. I like to do that. At only 2.5km, it was short and fast, I averaged a 3:30 pace and came in first (though officially 3rd as other heats had some faster people).  It was a hard but manageable pace on crusher dust.

I popped off my running shoes, grabbed my helmet and then tried to grab my bike. The wind had made it intertwined with the bike next to it. So after freeing that up, I ran to the mount line and popped on my bike. Not a super fast transition, but at 38 seconds it was okay for 10th place.

I took off on the bike, starting with a big climb to get to the course. Then I started out with a fast first section, which was a tail wind. Then a switch back to a head wind. The wind was brutal, at times you were soaring at crazy speeds (over 50km/hr on the flat) and at other times crawling along at 20 km/hr. Also the cross winds almost knocked me down a few times.

By the end of the ride I was really happy to only been passed by 3 people and held many other at bay. In fact the last person to pass me only did so right near the end, so I didn't drift too far from him. I hit the next transition having averaged about 30 km/hr (slower than previous years, but with good power output for me). I then proceeded to almost zoom through T2 (my shoe had blown away) and got out finally to start the final 5 km run.

I passed the 3rd place (in my heat) runner and then proceeded to turn up the heat on positions 1 and 2. Really though, they had a big lead and at only 5 (really less than 5) km I didn't have a huge chance at catching them.

Eventually with a few hundred meters to go, I had reeling Kevin B in but still cross the line 5 seconds behind him. It was a really good comeback, but he had made up too much time on that bike for me to mount a true challenge. I managed an average of a 3:50 pace for that run and crossed in what would become 7th place overall.

It was a tricky race, not know where you were relative to others, and dealing with the wind, the cold and sometimes the heat. Even the run was tricky in the cross winds. Still it was fun having such a large duathlon field. Hopefully we can get that more often in the future.

Thanks Navy, for hosting for another year.
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