Monday 24 October 2011

ASICS Off Road Race Series Promo

Black Park Cross Duathlon, Iver Buckinghamshire. 2nd

                  Sunday saw yet another glorious Autumnal day which set the perfect scene for the inaugural Black Park Duathlon. The organiser, Chris Denman and his West Drayton MBC crew had stuck closely to the tried and tested XC MTB loops which they often promote on and this made for an exciting bike lap.  
                  I knew there were some really good mountain bikers in the field such as Barry Stewart, Karl Norfolk and Jay Horton so I had no option but to really hammer it on the opening three mile run. Having done that it was a case of settling into the four lap bike leg and trying to not get caught in the technical sections. In the end, I was caught on lap 3 by Barry and then Karl came storming past on his cross bike (which seemed a good option in the bone dry conditions) and so it came to the manic chase back over the final 3 mile run. I was able to catch Karl but couldn't reel Barry back in as he had a really good final run in which I was only able to claw his winning margin back to 39 seconds. 
                    It was a great event and just as importantly for me it was a chance to go back to somewhere I used to spend so much time as a teenager.   In the days before the Hillingdon Circuit the 'Black Park loop' was the place to train and the chain gangs were legendary there on a Tuesday night. The off road scene now rules the roost at Black Park with a great set of forest trails which are not dissimilar to Thetford Forest really. It doesn't yet have a great reputation as a trail centre but it shouldn't be over looked if you're a West London based mountain biker looking for some sideways action and a chance to get lost in a beautiful woodland without having to drive far.  
                    For me there's now a bit of a break from racing for a couple of weeks until I get nearer to the First Asics race, the Iceman. The build up to the series is looking great and things have never looked healthier for the UK Cross Tri/Du scene. 
Have a look at the video above to see what you're missing out on. I mean, who wouldn't want to face plant into a muddy puddle on a Saturday morning?  It beats going shopping!

Thursday 20 October 2011

GB Medals glistened in the Asturian sunshine. World Champs, Gijon

2011 has seen me taking on the position of Great Britain Duathlon team manager. Here is my report:

The Great Britain standard distance Duathlon team took yet another impressive haul of medals at world championship on the 25th of September.

Here is my unpublished report as GB team manager

The Asturian city of Gijon, set back from a long golden beach on Spain's North coast provided the picturesque setting for the championships and the impressive rolling hills surrounding it was a pointer to the bike leg which would see the biggest gaps open up in most of the races as the riders tackled a 4 kilometre climb heading East.  

The Run course was an entirely flat affair but one in which the many turns began to take their toll as the changes in pace were felt over the four laps.  I'm pleased to report that I heard nothing but praise for the bike course which took in two laps of a long climb which was followed by a descent that was seemingly the perfect blend of speed and thrills to leave competitors with a smile on their faces. 

This year's event saw the most newcomers to the team for some years and this injection of fresh blood is undoubtedly a great thing for the sport.  Equally pleasingly for me personally was the ever increasing number of young athletes in the team who see Duathlon as their primary sport and this can only be a good thing as the sport continues to grow.

With 21 medals in total it goes without saying that the medals ceremony was peppered with athletes draped in Union Jacks (ok, and the odd Saltire!). The GB athletes, aparently famed for being the brainiest athletes on the world circuit were as calculated with their medal count as they were with the training in that the 21 was made up of 7 Gold , 7 Silver and 7 Bronze medals.

It does have to be said that despite a great men's team performance it was the ladies that had the upper hand with golds coming from Danielle Stewart (25-29), Gillian Palmer (30-34), Christine Howard (40-44), Hillary Ross (55-59), and Elspeth Knott (60-64).  Stewart was second overall in the whole race and was only prevented from being the overall winner by an outstanding performance from the American, Gail Kattouf who had relegated Esther Evans and Julliette Minter to the still highly prised silver and bronze spots on the 35-39 age group. Silver medals were also taken by Lucy Commander (25-29), Louise Bardsley (30-34), Mel Varvel (40-44) and Jan Farmer (60-64).  Taking the final podium steps for the ladies were a delighted Becky Glover (25-29) and two very popular team members, Penny Edwards (55-59) and Barbara Law (65-69).

The men were no slouches themselves with 'the Ross's' Fawcett and Landon taking Gold and Silver respectively in the 18-19 category leaving Stuart Hall's super fast 1:51:30 time to give him the other male gold medal.  After a build up plagued by injury Pete Wheddon took a defiant silver in the 55-59 category and 'uber-bikers' Richard Wilder (35-39) and Robert McLean (50-54) rode through the field to take Bronze medals in their age groups.  Finally, for the men, the ever reliant Arnott Kidd added to his medal mountain with a bronze in the 75-79 category. 

The build up to the event was not the smoothest for quite a number of the team who's airline had decided that perhaps it was best to fly them out without bags or bikes but if anything the kit-swapping and bike borrowing in the days proceeding the event just seemed to make the team cohesion even stronger on race day.

Wednesday 19 October 2011

Mud and Mayhem surprise

I had the very pleasant surprise of being emailed by Guy Travers of Go Beyond Ultra yesterday to say that I had won the Mud and Mayhem series overall this year after my win at Thetford in the Spring and then my 2nd place to Cedric 2 weeks ago in Swinley.  It's great to see an organiser who has truly embraced the world of off road multisport as Go-Beyond have and I know they have big plans to keep expanding their off road Duathlons in 2012.  Keep an eye on for announcements of their 2012 series and if you are in the area I'd seriously recommend a crack at their Brentwood off road running festival on the 29th and 30th of October. I did the 10k there last year and it was a really rewarding morning. They also do a half and full marathon also off road in the park for the truly mad!

Monday 17 October 2011

Essex Duathon. Beautiful sunshine and a 1st Place

               Hylands Park in Essex is just the perfect place for running and riding with its mix of wooded singletrack trails and flowing open parkland. The day once again reminded me how much I like Essex. It's a county with so much to offer the outdoorist and yet so often it gets a certain type of press which seems unfair. Having said that, the Essexians do seem to encourage it: After the race I commented to one of the locals about how lovely the park was to which he replied "The only way is Essex!".   He had a shaven head, tatoos, fake tan, a Staffie and he drove a lowered Ford Fiesta which actually had...... (please don't think I'm joking) but it actually had.... his name and the name of his laydeee (colloquial) friend (at least I hope she actually exists) on the window above their seats.  It was just perfect. Almost too perfect. Mr Essex man (let's call you Dale) We Salute you!
               Back to the race. It was something of a shock to have to scrape the Ice from the racking which had been up all night in order for the bike to stay put when racked. It really was a jolt like change from the warm weather of late. Having been beaten by about 3 seconds last year I was determined to push hard and make it stick this year and Graham Lee's ( idea of setting off the Ladies first, then Vets 6 minutes later and then then my group, the seniors, at 12 minutes down actually worked out well. Everyone ended up pushing so hard to catch those in front that there were PB's all around for the course.
               As it drew to a close coming up the final long climb through the park I could see First Vet, Jamie Bishop in 1st place and then the lead two women just behind him and I just could not catch them. The format worked really well and I ended up taking about of a minute off Hugo Hocknell's course record from last year. Well done to Ross Welton in second place as well. I went for a jog with Ross afterwards and got to hear about his adventures on the Ironman Circuit. It's always good to see guys like him coming over to the dirty side. Good lad.  

Thursday 13 October 2011

Mud and Mayhem Cross Duathlon, Swinley Forest, 2nd

           Last year I was beaten by my buddy Cedric Lassonde. This year I was beaten by my buddy Cedric Lassonde.  Doh! In fact, I've never beaten Cedric in the 3 times I've raced with him so I'll have to work on it! He is super fast on the mtb and we're fairly well matched on the run.  I won't bore you with the details but I had to post the fastest final run split in order to make up places and get back into 2nd having missed a turn on the bike leg. Some dastardly mountain bikers had decided to take home course arrows as souvenirs you see.
I do hope they don't trip and fall onto the pointy bit on their way home.        ;-)

Anyway, I felt like a sack of spanners on the bike and a Gazzelle on the final run such is the unpredictable nature of the human body....   Next up, the Essex Cross Du and then the brand new Black Park Du. Hope to see some of you there!

Boneshaker Duathlon. 1st Place, (New course Record)

I first competed in the wonderfully unique 'Boneshaker' Duathlon back in 2006 and was immediately struck by how little I knew of the Oxfordshire end of the Chiltern Ridge. It's such a beautiful part of England and the little village of Ardington where it takes place is just the most wonderful place in an Inspector-Morsey way.

The organisers are great and the course has always suited me well being fairly non-technical and mostly off road with some nice long climbs in it.

  This year there were some excellent relay teams that I knew were going to push me all the way if I was to win and the first run showed this as I came in third and fighting to keep the leader in my sights but I did feel really good on the bike, having not long been back from the Alps and the Pyranees and I set about working my way back through into the leda up and over the chalk hills of the Ridgeway.  I actually enjoyed the final run for once and felt quite fresh. I'd have to put this down to having a running injury all summer which has prevented me from overdoing it while in France. It was nice to start my winter cross Du season with a win and beating my 2007 course record by about 40 seconds was a surprise too so all bodes well for the winter season! Check out the race ahead of nest year. I'd seriously recommend it: Even if you are going to watch, the fresh pig baps make it outstanding!

Summer Update

Summer Update:  It's been another long gap since my last update so here's another late one just before I head off to the Alps for a few weeks!
It's been a fairly routine June and July of Mountain biking, getting over achilles tondonitis and doing a wee bit of Road racing ahead of some Crits I am riding in France the next few weeks (mainly so that I don't get a serious hiding out there!) Before that there was the Glorious victory for my team in the Hellrider 8 hr Enduro Duathlon, the first of its kind in the UK.
Here are the results from recent races:
Thetford mud and Mayhem Cross Du 1st
 Lotts Wood Cross Du, 2nd
Lanzarotte 1/2 Marathon 1st
Beastway XC 5th
Summit Lotts Wood XC 4th
Beastway XC 4th
Hellrider 8 Hr Enduro 1st
Summit MTB XC DNF (punc)
Areyoutoughenough? XC Enduro 6th