The Velopark Duathlon events are great little races. These duathlons usually comprise a 2 mile run, 10 mile bike and 1 mile run on the 1-mile long road circuit on the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park (adjacent to the velodrome) in Stratford, east London.
The January 2016 “Mince Pie’s Revenge” event was the fourth time that I had taken part in this event. Each of the previous three times, I had come second, beaten by a different person each time. Fourth time lucky perhaps?!
The Velopark Duathlon events attract people over a range of abilities; from first-time competitors to age-group Ironman world-champions. Being on the closed-road velopark circuit means that there’s no traffic to think about while racing, only other competitors, and the numbers are capped to ensure that the race is not too crowded.
76 competitors took part this time, including Lydia. A bitterly cold wind blew across the course. Most people opted for gloves, myself included, to keep fingers from numbness; the gloves led to many (myself included) fumbling a little during the run-to-bike and bike-to-run transitions.
Pressing hard on the initial 2-mile run, I had the leaders within sight throughout, which was encouraging. I exited the first transition and mounted my bike in 5th place, only 25 seconds down on the leader.
On the bike, I tried to push high power throughout. I knew that I was gaining places, but it was not possible to tell exactly where I was placed as I didn’t know which of the 10 laps everyone was on. I finished the bike with a normalised power of 303W and an average power of 300W.
Into the second (bike-to-run) transition and my running shoes were back on for the final 1-mile run on jelly legs. It was apparent that no-one else was in transition so I must have been in first position. That last run is always going to hurt but I managed to not slow too much to clock a 5:55 mile and cross the finish line first to win this event at the fourth attempt.
The race organisers give finishing medals to all participants, with further medals for top three overall and in each age group. I therefore collected three medals; by my calculations that’s one medal more than Mo Farah won in the London 2012 Olympics… unlucky Mo!
The only event that I had won previously was a low-key British Heart Foundation 5k run in Hyde park. To be honest, the British Heart Foundation event had felt like a bit of a hollow victory as there had been three runners ahead of me throughout the race. At around 4.9km in, they all continued to run another lap (there was a 2-lap 10k race option) whereas I turned off towards the finish line for the 1-lap 5k race.
It’s been an encouraging start to 2016; I’ve gone faster on each of the four occasions that I’ve raced the Velopark Duathlon to date.