Yesterday should of been a good day of racing at the Essex Offroad Duathlon that was also to be the inaugural English Cross Duathlon Championships but in reality it turned into a comedy of errors. My first event in a while and no where near what I would call an adequate level of fitness, moving house, colds, work, etc etc all adding up the cause of that. The lack of fitness was clearly evident at the Dusk Till Dawn race a couple of weeks ago when I let the side down in the team event. But as Yazz once sang, 'The only way is up!'
Anyhow back to yesterdays race. For me I was looking at it as more of a gauge of my current level of fitness against others and hoping that perhaps everyone might puncture on the bike section and I could win! The weather was surprisingly warm when we arrived even with the wind, as I set about signing on an then the obligatory faffing session of having to assemble my bike after having to dismantle it to try and fit it in the boot of my car. Bike back together and racked in the transition area, with several visual checks to make sure I knew where my bike would be when I ran in, it was time for race briefing. This dragged on for a long, long time, even more interesting when you have two young boys to try and control. Luckily the muddy puddles in the vicinity kept them relatively entertained.
Finally with briefing over it was off for a quick warm up to get the legs ready for the first 3.5km run section around Hylands Park. My wave eventually set off with one chap getting a gap on the rest of us straight away. I settled into about 5th place, not far behind 4th. Three runners opened up a gap on us but I had to run at what I could sensibly maintain. It was when we got to the last km that the fun began. The chap in 4th place stopped as it wasn't clear which way to go. Seeing the previous wave up ahead I shouted straight on after them. It was only when we were going up the long drag and I looked across the field I could see Jez Cox and the two other chaps in my wave way, way across the other side of the field. Confusion ensued but with the majority of the field up ahead of us we continued to the transition. Onto the bike and everyone had come back together again. To say the transition from run to bike was a shock to the legs would be an understatement especially on an uphill drag in a headwind. As rider after rider came by I managed to entice the legs to co-operate once more after bribing them with an energy gel. The bike lap was basically around the park on the grass and then into the woods which were very muddy and slippy. The Kenda Nevegals were definitely the right choice here, maybe not so at D2D (perhaps that's why my lap times were poor at D2D..ahem!). Sliding may way around the first lap it was back to the start for a quick hop off and on the bike for the second and last lap. Feeling a lot better now I started gaining places. A quick CNP caffeine gel before the woods to feed the ever hungry legs and I was feeling great and flying. So fast that when I got back to transition I couldn't recall doing sections on the 2nd lap that I did on the 1st. Still trying to work out how that was possible when I was always seeing riders ahead I popped on my running shoes and set off.
The legs were feeling not bad and as I rounded a corner marker to start an uphill drag I then became aware of runners in random places around the open parkland and then a lack of signage. Next it was a Marshall waving their arms saying that the race was being cancelled! The reason being people going the wrong way on the run, in the woods on the bike etc....ah that explains my quick lap in the woods. So that was it, we made our way back to the finish line. The briefing at the end was that signs had blown down, dog walkers had moved tape and signs and all in all a bit of a calamity, but hey I have free entry for an event at some point next year.
I'm sure if the race had continued I would have ran sub 20 second km's and won....maybe next year, oh no hang we've been told there won't be an event there next year now.....so what am I going to do with that free entry then.