VeloPark sprint duathlon

Challenge: Sprint duathlon

Details: Run 3.2km – Bike 16km – Run 3.2km. Duathlons are particularly popular in the winter as they are a segway to triathlons (duathlon + swimming) in the summer months. I completed the VeloPark Sprint Duathlon in January 2015. Here are details of that particular event, as well as where to look for others.

Where? VeloPark in Olympic Park (E9 5SX) / other locations

Transport? Cycle/ Overground/ train to Stratford then 15 minute walk to the VeloPark (bikes not allowed on tube)

When? In 2016, this particular event is on the 26th January. Search to find other duathlons throughout the year

Bring? Bike, helmet, water, running kit. If you want to change shoes between cycling cleats and running trainers, I recommend using elastic laces, dry warm clothes – there are lockers at the Velodrome

Food & drink? There’s a café in the Velodrome but bring water and your usual snacks

Cost? £13

Lucy and me finishing screen shot

eXerK 52in52 story: The 25th January 2015 is a day of firsts for me: on top of never having completed a multi-sport event or even a race involving cycling, it is also my first outing on my new Focus Izalco from Swift Cycles. I’m a novice but I know I’ll finish and am interested to see how run-bike-run feels.

Turns out it’s tougher than I thought. Externally everything is great; the weather dry and crisp, the race well organised and the circuit smooth and varied. Add a few mushrooms and banana skins and the VeloPark isn’t dissimilar to a Mario Kart track really.

I’m not used to sprinting or transitions, nor am I as fit as I’d like, so my mind plays games. The run helps find me get my bearings and explore the corners and hills of the one-mile closed circuit loop. Strategy-less, I come into the transition area still debating whether to switch into cycling shoes or not; I do.

Getting on the bike is refreshing as am suddenly making so much ground. There are moments of calm as I whizz around on my own, followed by frenzied rushes of fellow competitors gliding by on the wide track. I use a speedometer so I don’t have to worry about counting laps yet I still get it wrong. As I approach the transition area to de-bike, my brother comes in behind asking if I’d lapped him – I hadn’t – so off for one more loop (which is embarrassing as I’d called out to one of the volunteers as I ‘zoomed’ past her, that next time I saw her, I’d be on foot).

One mile later and trainers back on, cold hands battle with laces; I give up, start running laces loose, stop, try again, succeed on right lace, start running again, stop, rescue left lace. My legs are not happy but I make up some ground on my more familiar discipline. 

Twists to the tale are overcome to see my friend and I take home a couple of medals (a further novelty). Let’s get more ladies out on the course and get me back were I belong (off the podium).

What I took away from challenge no.4:

  • learn to count
  • get elastic laces
  • take on nutrition during races
  • don’t do a crossfit class the day before an event