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Race report from the Hole Park Mtb Duathlons 2016
Hole Park Mtb Duathlons and trail runs are a bit of an unmissable fixture for Beyond Going Long’s Rich Campbell. Having raced the inaugural 2014 event and commentated on the 2015 event (featuring a legends field of Sam Gardner, Richard Stannard, Jez Cox etc), it was time to don the trail shoes and get the knobbly tyres for an early season duathlon hit set within the gorgeous Kent gardens of the Hole Park Estate.
Find out how he gets on!
With butterflies in my tummy, I woke up on race day feeling somewhat nervous about the physical challenge ahead. Despite the misleading short looking distances, as a previous participant and organiser of off-road triathlon events myself, I knew that the Hole Park Duathlon offered a very tough challenge – and a new baby, a third ACL tear in the previous 2 years and a lacklustre attitude to adjusting my diet to match my new inactivity meant I was rocking up to this race 3 stone heavier and with a serious lack of fitness than my previous effort here. But I’m glad I did!
Starting the day with 500ml of 32Gi Blueberry Endure and some porridge. I wanted to at least have my race nutrition right, where my body and bike might let me down. Arriving at a sun-bathed estate I couldn’t be more excited and what a contrast to the hail and freezing winds that hit the same event on the previous two years. An early start to help with the set up meant I could soak up the atmosphere, chatting to friends and meeting elite iron-distance age grouper Steve Berry and XTERRA pro Jon Heasman who were in attendance. The atmosphere was buoyed by the duathletes, plus a road sportive and a canine-cross trail run all being held at the same time. For someone who doesn’t like dogs I soon had to get over this and it was a fun atmosphere and mix of people who just love being outside!
The first 5km trail run is classic British cross country and I set off at a sensible pace and just enjoyed the scenery. I took in a 32Gi chew early on so I knew it would set in just as I started the bike. The run starts with a misleading downhill trot on farm roads but soon you are slipping and sliding up muddy hills, across small rivers and over bridges – with a picturesque orchard at the top of the estate affording you views across Kent. It is an up and down 5km that is really quite tough but before you know it you are back to the Estate garden where my steed awaits.
I love the bike course here – it is more of a cross country course than a technical mountain bike course which appeals to my enthusiastic but seriously untalented skills on the bike. Lots of uphill action early on and a horrible boggy field meant that the wheels were spinning and it would have been quicker to get off and walk. I quite enjoyed the spinning sections though as I saw it as a work out and time to burn some calories so sat in and worked hard.
The downhill sections through the deep fjords were fun and I only got off my bike for this section of the course, mainly because I knew the walk up the other side was coming and I thought, why risk a spill and knock to confidence here. Spotting a line that no one else was taking I thought why not, and promptly realised why – the fjord was waste high at this point! Oh well, I was here to get wet and muddy and have a pure adrenalin filled race experience.
On the bike I was sipping a 500ml 32Gi Blueberry Endurance mix and this was sitting very well and keeping me hydrated and fuelled for the effort.
The first lap passed so quickly and on my return I was embarrassed to admit I hadn’t listened to any race briefings and didn’t know whether it was one lap or two! After being teased by some marshals I eventually found Co-Director Alison Steed and was informed I had another lap – great – the bike is lots of fun here! Off I went for a very similar lap to the first, consistent and fun, although the second walk up the fjord revealed that my legs were absolutely gone and my lack of fitness was really showing. The bike course was extremely muddy and a real (fun) battle throughout the race to work out whether you should push on or stop off. One lady revealed she had found a worm in her bike and we joked that we were so slow an ecosystem had developed here!
Back to T2 and time for the run – I realised I was in trouble. I felt good on the bike but had nothing for the run and my knee was feeling tired and aching. A last swig of 32Gi Endure and my ‘emergency’ 32Gi Chew was deployed but even that couldn’t mask the real problem, I just wasn’t fit and what I had, had been put it into my bike leg as I was having so much fun.
In what I can only liken to the last 5km of an Ironman, I set off with dead legs and somehow survived on a run/walk strategy. I wished at this stage that I had a 32Gi G-SHOT for the caffeine effects, but alas none was on my person. At 3km a water station felt refreshing and lifted my mood and the pace went back to a slow but determined jog. An unwelcome wrong turn added 400 metres but hey, extra value for money and I saw another orchard!
Crossing the line I was greeted by a warm embrace and a hard earned medal by the team and yet again, was left with one of my best race memories but also ruminating on a lack of fitness making that second run one of the hardest 5km of my life.
I couldn’t recommend this off-road challenge enough to any triathlete or adventure lover enough. It really is a hidden gem and there is something for everyone. The organisers are multiple Triathlon England award winners and they have a really special event and personal atmosphere at this one. I only wish it was held monthly as I would be back time and time again.
Congratulations to all who took part!
Super Duathlon 10km/32km/10km
- Gareth Parr 3:49:24
- Caroline Bullard 4:49:56
- Ross Sadd 4:56:58
Standard Duathlon 10km/20km/5km
- Jon Heasman 2:25:54
- Tim Wigley 2:41:12
- Adam Cable 2:45:52
- Catherine Linney 2:50:27
- Abigail Boswell 3:25:57
- Christine Costiff 3:32:32
Sprint Duathlon 5km/13km/5km
- Stuart Mcleod 1:44:34
- Richard Tai-Chidlow 1:49:56
- Matthew Eaton 1:53:25
- Cath Harris 2:02:51
- Jenny Duggan 2:12:06
- Claire Townsend 2:18:27
For more information or to sign up to the next Tri Spirit event please visit: http://www.trispiritevents.com/