It’s been two weeks since participating in the GRIM Duathlon and it’s only just occurred to me that I haven’t yet posted about it. So here goes…
The delay in posting, having thought about it may be due to the mental block suffered as part of my participation. Scarred by the experience, I’ve only just recovered enough to write about it. In honesty, it wasn’t that bad, but it was no walk in the park either.
Having completed the London triathlon back in the summer, myself and a few close buddies that took part thought it a good idea to enter an event that would keep the fitness levels up and provide a challenge before the year end. After a bit of Googling, we came across the GRIM Duathlon, a new event that entails 5 km run, 20 km off-road bike, then another 5 km run, all cross-country based terrain, on an army training facility in Aldershot, Surrey.
Not knowing what to expect we turned up to what was a very well organised and run event. There were plenty of fairly serious competitors mixed in with the more have-a-go types, like myself, all of which contributed to a fun vibe throughout. Before the starting gun fired I took advantage of the portaloo facilities, which considering the location were well kept, providing a surprisingly sanitised experience. Having flushed my system of the morning coffee and nervousness, I set off towards the starting line where my two mates were.
Final stretches (not enough), event briefing done, BANG! We’re off, to what is a relatively slow start, building up pace the field begin to spread out. Looking ahead I noticed a pinch point as we entered the forest section, not quite sure what was going on I just followed the crowd, then oh oh, we have to drop into a mud filled river bed, wading waist deep through water. Great! As I scrambled up the river bank on the other side the squelching of my soaked trainers turned into my pacemaker. What I thought would give me an advantage turned out to do opposite, unfortunately, when drenched, Gore-Tex shoes hold water, rather than keep it out. Oh well.
Completing the first run section, I eventually climbed onto my bike and pretty quickly found a speedy pace. The bike section, not surprisingly, is my stronger discipline, which became clearer when I realised that throughout the entire bike section, not a single person overtook me. Granted, the majority of the 300 strong field were already ahead of me (well, half of them anyway), but I must’ve passed at least 120 fellow competitors. I was blasting the bike course which consisted mainly of fire road mixed in with some off-road, mud moguls, and boggy hill climbs. Trying to gain any advantage I could on the bike, I was motoring along up until the point I felt my calves ceasing up. They got worse to the point of agonising pain at which point I had to get off the bike, walk and stretch it out until I could bare the pain whilst riding.
Fortunately, I was close to the end of the bike section when it got bad, but I made it to the next transition where I stretched, changed back into my drenched running shoes from my SPDs, then made it out again on the final leg. This I knew was not going to be fun and was more to do with stamina, patience and endurance than anything else. Stopping regularly to stretch, I made sure that I was able to keep running, or hobbling until finally reaching the finish line 5 km later, 167th of 300, taking 2 hours 18 minutes. Despite the pain I was gained a sense of satisfaction and on the whole it was actually a fun event.
On reflection, If I’d known about the terrain I would have used different tyres to cope with the soft, sandy ground. This could’ve given me at least a couple of minutes on the bike section. The run (or hobbling jog) on the other hand, could’ve been improved with some basic preparation, or training come to that. Now at least I’ll know for next time.
Keep checking back for the next event…