Race Report: Hillingdon Triathletes Winter Duathlon | Eclectic Cake: Race Report: Hillingdon Triathletes Winter Duathlon

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Race Report: Hillingdon Triathletes Winter Duathlon

WHAT:  2m run – 10m cycle – 1m run
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!

I was feeling confident. I had some experience under my belt and the right type of bike (even if it was a little big for me, anything would be better than my squeaky mountain bike). I knew the track fairly well and I had numbered stickers on my handlebars to count my laps. And, after all the other races and training I've done since the last race, surely my cycling had improved?!

Photo from Tri England
We were off and at what felt like a pretty fast pace. I quickly dropped to the back of the pack but kept on the toes of a familiar face to help drag me through. "I will not quit!" With my nose streaming, the run felt hard but the determination to improve on my previous attempt (where my run was actually pretty good) drove me forward.

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.

My low-tech lap counter
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
I threw my helmet down and started the run, only in an attempt to pound away my tears of disappointment. I 'finished' just as the awards had been dished out and in time to join the small handful of 9-lap-ers on the walk back to the car park – tired, sweaty but devoid of any pride of our hard work.

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.


UPDATED
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.






10 comments :

  1. Really good post and great point. It seems almost... rude? To do that to people who have paid an entry and showed up. Let them do one more measly lap and have a finish time !

    Sorry your race turned out like that :(

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    1. It was such a shame. Have you seen the update? They may not have got it right this time but the club have been really quick to respond to my feedback – more time for the next race, plus a novice distance race!

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  2. There's no shame in coming last. I was last by faaaaaaaaaaaaaaar in the London Duathlon this year. They did let me finish though! Did you know about the cut off time?

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    1. Congratulations on finishing the London Duathlon! There is absolutely no shame in coming last – if you can finish. I didn't know about the cut-off time but have you seen the update? The club have responded really well and will now be clear about times, as well as adding extra time to the race and a novice distance. Result!

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  3. Its so disappointing you didn't get to finish after the effort you put in! If they do a novice one, I will enter and then you will definitely beat me :)

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    1. Well there's only one way to find out...!

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  4. Although it's nice of the club to realise their mistake and try to make amends, I can imagine being ushered off a course without being allowed to finish properly will make some people feel crappy and even embarrassed that they wouldn't want to try it again. Congratulations on your improvement though :)

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    1. Unfortunately I don't know who the other non-finishers were. Hopefully, they have taken it all in their stride and are willing to give it another go.

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  5. Fab post...great outcome and I look forward to reading about your success in finishing next time!! Keep us all posted on the dates as I would be interested in entering too! I am very much a novice!! haha! :) x

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    1. Thank you. I'm so pleased with the outcome. I'll definitely let you know about the Spring races – I look forward to seeing you there!

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