You know it’s going to be a challenge when only the day before a race you realise that during that race you’re going to have to cycle more than a marathon, on a bike that has had more work done to it than some A-list celeb. And just to add to the madness, you then work out that you have to actually cycle 11 miles before the race begins. This is what I like to call an oh-my-god-what-have-you-got-yourself-into situation. It’s too late to find a different bike, you will have to purchase a cycle helmet because the one you own is way too pretty to wear on the course (and you don’t want to get it scratched) and you’re not quite sure if the gears will hold-up on Broomfield Hill (a very steep, sharp hill to climb).
This, my racing friends, was the reality I was faced with only 24 hours before the London Duathlon 2014. I’d spent my summer racing on two legs not two wheels and hadn’t “bricked it” since last year’s event (unless you count the time I was late for a dentist appointment and I sprinted off my bike after cycling up Hampstead hill). I was signed up for doing the Classic distance – 10km run, 44km cycle, 5km run.
Was I prepared for the next day’s event? No way. Would I pull out? Not on your nelly. And was I glad that I participated in the London Duathlon 2014. You betcha. Here’s why:
1. It’s good to mix-it-up a bit
When your main focus is running and you become a little fixated on your goal and your journey to get there, you can sometimes forget the other paths that may lead you there. After all the running I have taken part in over the summer, it was refreshing to jump back on my bike and just enjoy the ride. No, I was never in it to win it but pedalling up and down those hills was a different kind of workout for my body. What’s more, from certain points of the 11km cycling route, I could spot the Shard and beyond. This meant that when I did attack the running again, I wasn’t as knackered as I would be say after a marathon.
2. You can still chick all the boys on the running
I’d lie if I said I didn’t have some last-minute strategy on the London Duathlon 2014. It was as follows: run as fast as you can with the knowledge that you will have to cycle for 44km afterwards. And as all runners who are competitive know, there is something satisfying when you overtake people. You may not want to admit it but, honestly, I loved running past the boys thinking ha, ha you’ve just got chicked, knowing full well that they would be speeding past me on their whizzy carbon framed microlite machines that they call bikes.
3. The race is impeccably organised
Now I’ve run a lot of races but none are as well-organised or as thought through as the London Duathlon. From the staged start at the beginning of the Classic race, where by only 30 participants go off at any one time to prevent congestion on the road, to the marshalling and volunteers, there is something to be said for a race that takes all the rules really seriously. While I’m not too sure about some of the rules of the road in London for cyclists, especially when they on a few occasions they seem to disregard my own personal safety, I’m a stickler for race rules, and I really think that anyone wanting to organise a race should look to the London Duathlon as an example of a smooth operation. I didn’t have much of a chance to look around the event village but Crewroom,Trek Bikes and Embrace Sport were all showcasing their lovely stuff.
4. It’s tough but doable and enjoyable
Last year, I tried the Sprint so this year I thought I’d up my game and double the cycle distance from 22km to 44km (the running distance stayed the same at 10km, followed by the cycle, and then finished with a 5km run). I’m pretty fit at the moment and the running wasn’t too difficult. The cycling was tough, especially on my fourth lap when I honestly thought my chain was going to break. That being said, the Classic distance was not impossible even on my old rust bucket. If you look at my times, you can see that I could still nail a 22 minute-ish 5km after a 44km cycle race, 10km run and 11 mile cycle from my home to the start of the race.
5. It’s perfect for any endurance athlete
If you want to race it, then go for it. The London Duathlon is a great race to try a cycle-run-style race because it is so well-organised. Of course I could have been more prepared and perhaps actually rented a proper bike (from British Bike Hire) but this time around, I think I saw the Duathlon as a race leading me towards another goal. Fundamentally, it’s like any other endurance race and you need to pace yourself. And as I said above, there really is nothing wrong in trying different disciplines as you may surprise yourself.
Did you take part in the London Duathlon or would you ever try a duathlon? Let me know your thoughts below.