WHEN: 10th November 2013
WHERE: Minet Park, Hayes
Yes, my face was still leaking snot from being ill all week and shin splints had kept me from running but I was looking forward to this race. My last attempt at a Hillingdon Triathletes club duathlon can only be described as a disaster – a late start, the wrong bike and a slipped chain all made for a very slow time. But I had a time. Something to better and a way of tracking any improvements I've made over the season. There was no chance of me winning the women's wave but I wasn't racing anyone on the track. I was racing against myself!
|Photo from Tri England|
Finally reaching my bike, I had to take a moment to psyche myself up. I was tired already! But hopping on the bike mede me feel better – despite being over-taken by almost everyone, the Jen from my first race was bound to be well behind and that's all that mattered. I still snailed up the mini hills and was terrified of the down-hill bend but determination kept me at an (almost) constant speed.
First place finished at around my 7th lap. Already an improvement, as last time I was only four or five miles into my race as finishers started to come home. But as the numbers on the track began to lessen, it became harder to push. Even though I was racing against myself, it's always easier to use others for pace and motivation – the person in front is a constantly moving finish line I try to catch up with. I'd even over-taken two other riders by doing this – another improvement! Now, however there was no one in sight and my legs were shouting at me to stop. As the last lap was coming into sight I knew it would be a hard one.
But I'll never know if I was right. At the end of my 9th lap, I was ushered into transition to abandon my cycle and finish my last run. Without prior warning, it was time to clear the 'debris' off the course in preparation for the next race. All the effort I'd put into my race and towards a PB attempt had gone to waste. One lap short, the times wouldn't be comparable. Plus, who would feel content with almost finishing a duathlon. To top it off, I'm pretty sure I'm disqualified – my head was still focused on cycling the last lap as I was drawn in, so I committed that fatal crime of riding over the transition line. But it didn't matter. I might as well add a DSQ to my DNF!
|Photo from Tri England|
As a race that encouraged novices to join, one vital thing seemed to have been forgotten – most newbies are slow. We're cautious on corners, fluster in transition and some (like me) will astound you at how long it will take to complete a race. Today, that was overlooked. It takes courage to sign yourself up for something you will probably lose. That's why the good organisation and brilliant support from the marshals is so important in keeping novices going but being swept off the track for being too slow was soul destroying. It's embarrassing to come last and have to grimace through the 'pity cheer' as you finally return, but being denied the glory of actually finishing is so much worse. So please, if you invite a novice to race, let them finish.
As I suspected, the club were sad to hear that some participants came away from the duathlon unhappy, having not been given the opportunity to finish their race. They admit that timing for novices was overlooked and they'd like to offer those participants free entry to the first race of the new season. The club are also looking at ways to truly cater for everyone - from shorter races that run with everyone else, to allowing an extra 15 minutes per wave. They will also state a cut-off time in the race details and remind those towards the back on race day of the time allowed.
This is brilliant news! The entire purpose of writing this post was to bring to light the issues with the race and to change it for the future. Job done, now to work for that PB.