I need to get in a speedy blog this time to get in a quick, cheap dig at Torq before they beat me to it. Well, here goes.
With Matt Hart still recuperating after his exertions at Bristol, it fell to James Gleave to salvage the team's honour at this year's running of the Cirencester MTB Duathlon. Or Ciren MTB Du according to my trophy from last year; engraving is expensive these days dontcha know. Instead James chose to resort to the lowest form of pre-race chat - the claim of not having trained. When Usain Bolt pitches up at the 100m final year, claiming to have 'not done much' or 'carrying a bit of a niggle' are we going to believe him? Not a chance. In his defence, James did look a bit lost, with the kind of expression common to geriatrics before being helped over the road by a do-gooder.
At Bristol, Matt realised that you can't run on memories. Having not run before (yeah, right) James seemingly had no memories to run on anyway and it served him well, bringing him 3rd place in the senior race.
Duathlons are a weird sport. Apparently Liam K won this race previously, in the days when it was a proper MTB course. These days it's a cyclo-cross drag strip that turns into a bog in wet weather. But it works. It's damn hard, a really good winter workout and there is no greater joy than beating the blokes in tri suits. I think that if you stand on the start line in a tri suit, racing flats, shaven legs and fake tan, bouncing on the spot than you'd better be bloody quick. If you then blow your doors after a Herculean first ½ mile your competitors should be able to spray you with energy gel for being a chopper.
Being Remembrance Sunday, a minute's silence was observed. It was more like a minute's beeping with all the electronic gadgetry that people find essential to festoon themselves with before they can go for their 2 mile waddle down the road. The true athlete times themselves by the length of their stubble and the size of their blisters.
The short course competitors went first. Bearing in mind my finishing time was just over an hour, I reckon the short course folk spent more time in transition than on any other part of the course. True to form, we smashed straight into the back of them after ½ mile, chasing them down like orcs after slightly more rotund hobbits. Being a multi-lap event, we were to become intimately acquainted with these back markers, some of which clearly had no intention of over exerting themselves as they had dressed in trousers and hoodies. Meanwhile, we were wearing race kit more akin to the pages of specialist top shelf magazines in its skimpiness. Team Anne Summers - now there's an idea sure to drum up a bit more TV coverage.
Onto the bike and I spent 40 minutes shouting "Shut-up legs" in my best Jens Voigt accent. Ooh the pain. The trouble with race courses like this is that when you hit a bit of track that requires a modicum of MTB skill, you've kind of lost the knack. Still, it's over quickly and the sheer horror of the final run kicks you in the nuts. At least it does once you've found your shoes. A transition area that started out as a typically British orderly affair has degenerated into the women's clothing stall at a jumble sale. I passed my shoes multiple times before I recognised them, despite being old faithfuls, put them on gingerly to avoid pulling a muscle / falling flat on my face and orf I jolly well go.
It's at this point in a duathlon I like to adopt the running style of the scarecrow out of the Wizard of Oz. Only 2 miles to go but with the guy in front an unassailable distance ahead it felt like a long, long way. I spent the time casting voodoo spells on him (it worked at Bristol) but even my evil magic couldn't stop Ian Payne winning. We all piled in thick and fast behind him, had a picnic in the sunshine, and went off with top prizes c/o Noah's Ark.
Nice event. You've got to try this duathlon lark. We'll rip your legs off.