Simon “Mr Sparkle” Fox reports back on his experience..
With both the run and ride sections being based on and around the Altura trails, this new event for 2009 proved to be a big hit with the fell runners, triathletes and mountain bikers who participated.
The first of the two 5.5km runs took us in an anti-clockwise direction, first on a steep fireroad climb and then off, twisting and turning, up through the trees. Finally we reached the SportIdent dibbing point at the halfway mark and knew we were heading for home. Or at least heading for more pain on the bike…
The bike leg was 15km and seemed to use a bit of the Blue trail and a large chunk of the Red North loop. Straight away this was fun! A short descent with little jumpy bits led onto a sweeping section of berms. A couple of sudden, stiff climbs forced me to dismount (I was on my Singlespeed and my legs were toasted!) and push but otherwise I was in my element. The route threw in tricky technical sections over wet rock and roots, sets of jumps and speedy fireroad descents.
I was concerned at the start that there would be bottlenecks on the singletrack sections but the run had spread everyone out well. On the way back to the start/finish I was passed by two guys on full suss xc bikes who were flying and dropped me easily on some lovely technical stuff. I couldn’t help thinking that some of the less mountain bike orientated racers were going to have a real eye opener here.
Back to transition and out on foot again, the second run was a reversal of the first. The change of muscle usage turned my legs into a cross between rubber and lead. As we turned off into the trees a marshal shouted “Well done – top 30!” I was quite amazed as I had hoped for maybe being in the top third of the field at best. This gave me the encouragement to dig deep and keep shuffling (I couldn’t honestly call it running at this stage).
I settled in and caught and passed a couple of runners. It didn’t get any easier but I knew it couldn’t last much longer. The marshals gave great encouragement, especially the one who said ‘Two minutes to go’ as I headed back. A last futile sprint after the runner in front and I was finished. As I recovered my breath in the transition area I reflected on what a good, hard challenging event it had been. The runs, although seemingly climbing forever, mixed up the fireroad with the singletrack to keep it varied and interesting. The bike section was excellent – tough climbs, drop offs, jumps, tricky technical sections – something for everyone, even the guy on the 23 year old cross bike!
A slight glitch with the timing chips meant the full results were delayed but the winners were never in doubt. In the Solo Men ace fell runner Ricky Lightfoot of saab Saloman stormed round despite ‘not really being a mountain biker’ and he had a puncture at the start of the bike leg! A ‘dream team’ partnership in the Pairs meant that Chris Steele and Phil Davies of Cyclewise got the fastest time of the day whilst the Ladies was won by local rider Racheal Lawrance. I was 23rd and first (ok, only!) Singlespeed. With around 150 racers taking part this tough event gets the Mr Sparkle thumbs up.
Full results here: http://www.sportident.co.uk/results/2009/WhinlatterDuathlon/
Whinlatter Duathlon Website: http://www.whinlatterduathlon.co.uk/index.php
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Read more about the comp here – http://www.singletrackworld.com/competitions/altura/