The 2015 Triathlon England Cross Duathlon Championships were being held at Hole Park, Kent. The venue of the previous Hole Park Mtb Duathlon in 2014. The course would consist of a 10km run, 20km MTB and 5km, and attract some of the best off-road multisport athletes in the country.The weeks leading upto the race had gone well and I was looking forward to racing at Hole Park. Travelling down on the Saturday, I met up with Sam Begg to check out the venue. The weather wasn’t exactly brilliant with high winds and intermittent showers, but the recce had gone well. After checking out the bike and run route I was feeling good leading into Sunday, very much knowing that rain would make Sunday a tough race and different to what I heard about it being non-technical.With a start time of 10am Sunday, the weather had turned and it was overcast with rain. I had watched the preview video of the bike route and had adopted to run my new Vittoria Peyote tyres and put clip on aero-bars. 10 minutes before transition closed, I was told these would not be permitted so I had to get them removed pronto! Small gains as they say!The first run of 2 x 5km weaved around the farm fields and encompassed farm tracks with a sharp hill. The run went of quick with Begg and Gardener in the lead. I settled into a nice rhythm and finished the first lap in 7th position, then picking it up on lap 2 moving into closing distance of 5th. My run has improved from last year and I was glad to come off the run feeling strong heading into the bike.With a quick transition, I am starting to get a bit quicker at these! Headed out on the bike. The bike consisted of 3 x 6km laps. The bike lap could be split into 3 sections. The first 2km were on water logged fields which made pedalling heavy, 2nd section 2km of muddy technical woodland sections and the final 2km road heading back to the start area. By the end of lap 1 I had got up to 4th place and was pushing hard to catch the lead set. By the start of lap 2 I had caught up to Begg and we worked together for the first 2km of the lap to try and gain on the lead two riders.
Prior to the race I knew that my hard efforts would need to be done through the technical woodland area and I managed to break away at this point. Parts of the bike at this point meant that the tyres became slick due to the amount of mud and it was short bursts of pushing. Thankfully this wasn’t too much. For the final lap I pushed hard to try and gain on the lead 2 and heard the gap was around 2 minutes.
Back to T2 and I had seen Sam and Jim heading out on the run, with Sam in the lead. This would be a bit too much for me to close on the final 5km. So I pushed on to consolidate my 3rd position. Eventually crossing the line 3rd overall and retaining the Tri England National AG25-29 title. Overall a solid start to the season and improvements from when I last raced 6 weeks earlier J
A big thanks to Vitus, Vittoria & SAM Wear for their help leading upto the race with providing new tyres, bike spares & kit. Also to NJD Sports Injuries for sorting me out with a Bike Fit.
1st – Jim McConnel – 02:05:07
2nd – Sam Gardener – 02:07:03
3rd – James Walker – 02:11:37