The morning was pleasingly bright and sunny, but there remained strong gusts of wind as a reminder of the downpours of the previous few days. 50 male & 7 female competitors assembled at Top Barn near Worcester for the 5k-15k-3k Dirt Run Duathlon. Setting off at 10 AM, the field sorted itself out as we squelched around the lake. A mixture of grass & farm tracks led after about 2 km to the first woodland section. Up to that point, I’d managed to keep Jasper in my sights as he settled in just behind the leading group, but I lost him amongst the trees. The meandering paths through woods were well-endowed with steep ascents and descents, but with just enough room to pass others (or be passed!). Out of the woods, across fields & tracks, the route led to a second woodland section, which had less overtaking room but was less steep up or down, after which flat farm tracks led us back to the lake to complete our first 5 km lap.
Then all aboard the mountain bikes for 3 more of the same laps, starting off into the teeth of the wind. I more than held my own in the wind & on the flat tracks but in the woods the ups & downs were challenging me to the limits of my technical ability. Everyone, including the cycle aces, had to get off push on many of the climbs, but while plodding up the steepest on my second lap, I was astounded to see a very fit young man leaping and bounding past me with his bike on his shoulders cyclo-cross style.
The second run was 3 flat km around a different part of the farm. Having increased the cadence on my bike over the last 100 yd or so, I settled quickly into running rhythm & overtook a few on the way. So far no one has passed me in the third phase of a triathlon or duathlon (of course, that might be merely a reflection of my lack of prowess on the bike!). I finished strongly in 1.48.07 to claim 26th place & the 2nd over-50 prize (there is no over-60 category in triathlons), much to my surprise & delight. Jasper finished 1min 20 sec & three places in front of me which prompted the organisers to award him a special prize. And what lavish prizes! The sponsors had been extremely generous.
It was a great day out. The event was well organised, excellently marked & encouragingly marshalled, a thoroughly enjoyable morning in the transient sunshine. The only minor fly in the ointment was a technical glitch, which prevented reporting split times,. We will certainly go there again, probably for the New Year’ s Day cross-country 10k, an attractive alternative to queueing at fences & on hills at Church Stretton.