Belpark Duathlon 2019 – Ché McGann
Since starting triathlon’s I’ve always tried to get in a couple of the Phoenix Park Duathlons run by Belpark Tri Club every year. Usually on Wednesday evenings across the summer, this year followed a slightly different format and saw the first race was being held on a Saturday in April as it was part of the National Duathlon Series. Although I hadn’t taken part in any of the other duathlons, this race seemed to be a great way to assess the winter training I’d done and a good opportunity to practice my transitions before the triathlon season starts.
My season to date has been a bit unstructured and I haven’t followed any set training plan. I generally just try to attend club sessions; and am happy if every week I get a coached swim in, make Kevin’s spin class on a Tuesday, go to track on a Wednesday and get a long bike and run in at the weekend.
Storm Hannah had been forecast all week so I signed up with the faint glimmer that they may have to cancel, and my first race could be kicked down the road to Carlow next month. The night before I listened to howling winds and became more and more convinced, I’d wake to an email saying they’d cancelled the race. That didn’t come and in fact it looked like a lovely day outside (from the comfort of a warm house) so I headed to the Park.
With registration done and my bike racked in no time at all I had nearly an hour to kill before the race started. A good time to catch up with Pulsers, and as always, we were well represented by both new and old members. There were rumours circulating that they still weren’t sure if the race would go ahead due to the high winds but now that I’d made it this far, I wanted to race (if only to get warm).
There was lots of deliberation on what to wear and I was pretty sure I was going to race in my Pulse jacket as I was so cold. Thankfully Joanna Butler was the voice of reason and had to firmly insist more than once that I give the jacket to her before starting. Thanks again Joanna for the on-point advice!
There were 3 waves and I was in the second wave for a course that consisted of a 5km run to start (2 loops), a 20km bike (5 loops) and a 2.5km run (1 loop) to finish. I always find it hard to pace myself on the first run in a duathlon (but I don’t think I’m alone in that) and was running faster than some of my sprints at track for the first kilometre, although the wind behind me may have had something to do with it. Unfortunately once we reached the far side of the park and were running straight into a headwind I slowed considerably.
Coming out of T1, I made a mental note to practice my transitions before triathlon race season starts. The bike was tough with the strong winds – I don’t think I used my tri bars at all as you just didn’t know when you were going to get battered with a gust of wind. Going down the Kyber Pass was fun though and thanks to Alex and Vinny for all their support out on the course!
The final run was a bit mentally challenging and I was very close to walking as I attempted to run into that final head wind. With my t-shirt billowing in the wind like some sort of parachute and my hair blowing everywhere as I’d lost my bobbin, I’m sure I was quite the image crossing the finishing line but thankfully it was done and I even managed to pick up an age group placing.
I’d totally recommend anyone who hasn’t done it before to try one of the other races in the series on June 5 or July 10.