Derby Triathlon Club

Powerman Holland by Roger Spencer

European Long-Distance Duathlon Championships – 29th April 2012 - By Roger Spencer

The European Duathlon Championships were held in Horst in Holland this year; integrated into the Powerman Holland longer distance race, after some ‘organisational problems’ in the PowersThatBe meant no standard distance qualifiers or race was added to this year’s Duathlon calendar. This also contributed to a complete reversal of the Europeans from last year, this time with a small British team taking on a much stronger continental presence.

For those less familiar with Duathlon: it is Triathlon for those, like me, who need arm-bands in the bath - with the Tri-swim replaced by a run. The standard (or Olympic) distance is 10k:40k:5k with the Powerman race a slightly more challenging 15k:60k:7.5k. The Duathlon season itself is slightly odd, being squeezed around the bigger brother Tri season, with most races in Spring and late Summer and the Europeans and World big races separated by 6 months.

The race itself went as well as I could have hoped. The elites legged it into the distance looking far too thin and easy at 5 mins per mile. Amongst the mortals, I paced the first run well, feeling in control at 58:37. The bike leg I found surprisingly tough – although happily flat, lots of technical turns and bobbly old narrow roads through the Dutch Tulip fields didn’t suit my novice cycling skills. At least I survived an old couple in a battered car pulling out from their home onto the course in the middle of the barricaded-off town centre by weaving out and back-in through the cones and also negotiated the water-station refill truck that they inexplicably parked across the single-lane course to refill the water station mid-race … and posted a 1:43 split. I’d lost a few places on the bike but felt good on the final run and pulled in quite a few, happy with a 31 min final leg and glad to see the finish in just under 3:16. The weak field even made the result look OK – 15th in age-group (2nd Brit).

What have I learnt in the preparation, training and race that might be worth sharing?

• The north of the Netherlands really is flat. And pretty. If you don’t like hilly courses it’s a great place to race. And it’s friendly.

• Don’t over-inflate tyres on bumpy surfaces (I am learning the hard way Mr Brooke).

• Nutrition - basically our bodies will provide us naturally with energy for about 90 mins of racing. For anything over that but under half-ironman food won’t digest quick enough to be of use ….. so I used a few carb powders in training (to check OK for stomach) for a bit and then, for the race, added the amount I needed for the extra 1¾ hrs into bottled water, taking it on-board gradually over the bike and grabbing the final bottle in the last transition and drinking whilst getting into the run.

• Training – I find that Brick sessions and tempo running in base/build training work well. Do enough brick work and that funny wobbly feeling when moving from bike to run really does go….. and running at tempo helps pace judgement and gets the body used to working well at early-race-pace with minimal lactic build-up.

• If you haven’t looked at GB age-group qualification for Du or Tri – have a look at the qualification race results online – there are quite a few places on offer and if I can get in there are a lot out there who could also … whether you do it for national pride or personal pleasure it is ‘an experience’. One word of warning though, the costs do add up…..

• Never go go-karting with Hayden

(Glad he wrote this before Mondays bike session - Simon)

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