The last time I was at Hole Park I was learning about hedge-laying (don’t ask) – It was wet, cold, windy and my Dad set fire to a man’s chainsaw. The man was not amused, but I enjoyed it and (at least for a short time) we had some warmth to gather around. The time before that I was a nine-year-old Cub Scout, there was a force ten gale overnight which I thought was great, but everyone else freaked out – mud and chaos everywhere. When I arrived for the 2015 ‘Cross Duathlon Champs I figured I should try and do something to improve on my past history at the venue…
Triathletes and Duathletes wear some pretty strange clothing at the best of times but when the weather’s not so good they go from looking odd to completely bonkers – I stuck with my normal SDW kit and tried to look as much like a cyclist as possible. There were people wearing vests with arm warmers and calf guards, but nothing covering their knees or shoulders. This, along with triathletes use of the “bike” as a verb has always baffled me, but each to their own – I was sticking with nice warm shoulders and full adult sized socks.
We waited a little while for some people who’d got lost on the way and then set off, led by Sam Begg, at a furious pace. I never done a running race before so it was all a bit different to my normal run home through the woods and the speed seemed high, but I figured that if you’re going to race then you may as well see what’s possible so I stayed with the leaders for as long as I could. About half way through the lap we crossed a bridge and then headed up hill which I seemed to be good at, before the leaders gapped me a bit over the flat muddy bits.
The rest of the run went well and I dropped into safety mode a little knowing I could push a bit harder on the cycle. Jumping onto the bike I immediately felt a little more at home – the course wasn’t technical at all but I guess just being on the bike is where I naturally feel comfortable. By this point the course was awash with Standard, Sprint and Super distance racers so although I was passing lots of people I had no idea if they were in my race or not.
The course had been baked hard over the last few weeks and today’s rain had produced a beautifully slick surface on the top. Lots of people were kindly crashing out of the way of me including one guy who did a full front flip – nine out of ten for the dismount! On the third of three laps I had a little less traffic and managed to ride the whole lap which helped stop my legs from cramping.
Back onto the running and my legs were well glad to only have to finish of the final 5km! I passed George Higgs on the long uphill and almost caught Richard Stannard over the last few fields before crossing the line – I then realized I was on the wrong side of the barrier, so then I climbed over the barrier and finally crossed the actual line! I like to add that last little extra bit in to make it interesting.
The course seemed good, but obviously I haven’t got much to gauge it against. I met the organiser (Liz) at the London Tri/Bike Show who along with Pip convinced me to sign up for this race and jokes apart I’m glad I did. Everyone in the race was friendly and the marshals and organisers were top notch. A couple of them gave me some good advice and the announcer was brilliant – it makes a big difference when someone shouts out something funny rather than the standard, “here come number 41” drivel. Also cheers to Pip for the photos and the shouts.
11th overall, 1 place behind Stannard and Age Group National Champ – I’ll take that.
- Jim McConnel
- Sam Gardner (Berkshire Tri)
- Jamie Walker (Manc Tri)
- Jon Heasman (Thames Turbo)
- Sam Begg (7Oaks Tri)
11. Glen Whittington (SDW)(1st in AG)
Glen rides for the Southborough & District Wheelers. He races Mountain bikes in the UK National XC Points and Eastern XC Series, Road bikes in the Surrey, South-East and Eastern Leagues, TT in the South East Region and ‘Cross in the LCCA League. He receives personal support from Helly Hansen, The Velo House, Scott Bikes and THE.ÆIGHT.BICYCLE.CØMPANY.
Glen runs The Velo House with Olly and Matt, a coffee shop, workshop and bike shop welcoming all cyclists and even well behaved non-cyclists. We’re based at 5 St.Johns Road, Tunbridge Wells, TN4 9GW – 01892 554 505 – email@example.com.