Monday 12 March 2012

Trailman Asics Final. 5th place

             I have the pleasure of writing for and from time to time and the moment you can read my race report from Sunday's Asics Finale, the Trailman.  
Here's a preview of it but do skip over to for all the latest reports, interviews and news but if you are not yet converted go have a peek.

 The Trailman, the  5th and final round of this winter’s Asics Off-road series was widely acclaimed by many as being the hardest even though on paper, with its rolling undulations and grassy slopes that was unexpected.  The course and venue were entirely new and as is so often the case in the off-road scene we got to race over trails that we would never be allowed on at any other time in the year. The wide open expanses of Eridge Deer park in Kent provided a stern test made infinitely harder by the deep mud sections which littered both the run and bike courses. This is a ‘Humanrace’ event after all and throughout the whole series they pride themselves on creating those ‘are we seriously going through/over/under/up/down that!?’ moments for the unsuspecting competitors who round the corner of some deep dark wood only to be presented with the aforementioned ‘treats’.  For the Trailman it was deep clay lined mud pits which sucked off trainers and made carrying the bike through it the quickest way. It goes without saying that race times were the slowest for the whole series taking the distances into account but that didn't make the racing any less intense.
On the first run with fellow Maxifuel athlete Sam Gardner and Oli Mahoney

Nearing the end of the Trailman Bike leg
Speaking personally I have had a pretty poor winter off-road season and was determined to try to salvage a good result from the final round. As I suspected, the race went off at lightening pace with around a kilometre entirely downhill to start with and from the off it was Colin Dixon and series winner Richard Stannard pushing the pace with Phil Westoby, Paul Davies and myself giving chase. As always, ladies series winner Kate Robson was not far behind and dominating the ladies race. For Kate however, the final race was to be wrestled from her by off-road specialist Fay Cripps who had excitedly shown me her brand new Carbon ‘29er’ race bike just before the off. She was very unsure as to how the new bike would feel, admitting to me that she had only done one ride on it since getting it and that was a race which she only won by some 20 minutes so not a conclusive performance, I’m sure you’d agree.....  Joking aside, she took command of the lead of the bike leg and was then able to win on the final run. Fay finished 9th overall and Kate was 14th so despite most of the men being ‘Chicked’ it also made the lead men sit up and take notice of two seriously good athletes. 

Back with the men, Richard Stannard used his strength on the bike (also riding a ‘29er’ by the way) to put the race beyond doubt before finishing with around a minute in hand over a hard chasing and effervescently evergreen Colin Dixon. Paul Davies completed another strong off-road winter series by taking 3rd and I did everything I could to catch Oli Mahony as we approached the finish but couldn’t quite get there.  The racing has definitely been a lot tougher in the series this year. Last year, I started the series by winning the opening round by over 3 minutes and this year, coupled with the fact that I have been going like a bag of spanners on the bike the competition has been much tougher.  The series’ success not only demonstrated Humanrace’s commitment to Duathlon and their ability to unlock special venues but also the growing number of multi-sporters in the UK who only race off road.  With a number of winter series now and the Scott national X-Tri series spanning the traditional tri season,  the UK race scene seems to be harnessing the potential for traffic free adventure and a sense of having ‘got through it’ above just ‘completing it’. 

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