For many , the 2016 Bedford Duathlon (Run, Bike, Run) represented the start of another Triathlon season and whilst unfortunate circumstances meant some last minute reductions to the Tri-Force attendees on the day (Hannah & Sam Newman, Christy Durbin and Tom Jarman), it was great to see a few of the talented and enthusiastic new recruits of the Tri-Force family give their all, alongside a couple of our more established team members, and together they all provided some great performances.
This year, the Bedford Duathlon was staged at the Thurleigh Autodrome , an arena located a few miles north of Bedford and as its name suggests, this venue mainly hosts a number of high powered motorbike and racing car events throughout the year, and offers a layout of various tarmac racing circuits.
This meant that unusually for children’s races, both disciplines of the bike and run were performed on a hard tarmac surface, and as you will read later, this ultimately proved to be hard lesson for some of the athletes taking part.
The Thurleigh Autodrome is a purpose built low lying arena that stands alone, surrounded by flat fields as far as the eye can see. And despite a day of constant sunshine, the flat surroundings meant that for most of the time, all the spectators were exposed to a keen chilly wind, although this did nothing to dampen the spirits of the spectators as they cheered, clapped, rang bells and encouraged the athletes throughout the event.
The administration, course layout and general information from the organisers NiceTri Events Ltd was very good. The race had ankle timing chip’s being provided by Chip Timing Solutions, with music and in – race commentary on offer and the obligatory burger, chips and tea van providing some warm sustenance to keep out the early spring chill.
Two of the venue’s tarmac circuits were used for the races, with part of one circuit being set up into a lap by cones, allowing all the spectators to view the run from a short distance away. The last part of the run led into a central transition area, and the cycle out of transition led onto the second circuit, which was used in full to complete 1 lap of the cycle element and spectators were free to stand anywhere trackside to watch the athletes.
The Duathlon was split into 4 separate races, beginning with a Tri Start race for the 8 year olds and ending with the Tri Star 3’s (13 to 14 years age group), with each race combining both boys and girls to compete in the race together.
Tri Start (8 year olds)
Whilst Tri-Force did not have a representative in the Tri Start race, there was a field of 11 athletes who all enthusiastically completed the event.
Tri Star 1 (9 -10 year olds)
Tri-Force had two athletes in this race, newcomer Louisa Muller for the girls along with Benjamin Taggert competing for the boys.
Out of the 10 girls taking part, Louisa was 3rd after her first run, but was 8th on her first transition, held 5th place for both the bike section and second transition, before finishing 4th fastest in her final run.
Ultimately Louise finished 4th overall, which is a really excellent performance for her first event.
Benjamin was competing against 21 other boys, and despite being one of the slower runners in the field, finishing 20th after the first run, his performance surged upwards with a great 12th place in the cycle, and improving again in his second run by a couple of places (18th) , meant that Benjamin finally finished 15th overall. Another great result, well done Benjamin.
Tri Star 2 (11 – 12 year olds)
Three athletes represented Tri-Force in this race. Antonia Jubb keen to continue her successes of 2015 for the girls
and two newcomers for the boys, namely Zak Mohammedbhai and Luke Muller, (who’s sister had already raced in the Tri Star 1 race).
The boys were competing in a large field of 30, so this was likely to be a tough event for both of the newcomers.
Zak competed really well on his first run, finishing in 15th place, he slipped slightly to 24th on the cycle and had a struggle on the second transition where he completed this in last place, however, another very strong second run (14th) pushed Zac up the field again, crossing the line on his first event in a creditable 23rd place.
After a slow run (28th) Luke really went for it by improving to 20th in the first transition and coming in 22nd on his cycle, unfortunately, it would seem that this great effort took it’s toll on his second run (30th). Ultimately, Luke’s cycling strength ensured that he finished 26th overall.
Both boys should take great heart from their first outing in the orange of Tri-Force. Well done!
Antonia competed against 12 other girls in her first race at T2.
Finishing her first run in 3rd place, Antonia dropped to 6th on the first transition and 8th on the bike section, however, gaining a 4th place in her second transition and a superb 1st place in her final run, Antonia started her 2016 efforts with a great 4th place overall. Keep it up Antonia.
Despite many of the athletes ensuring that they followed their coaches dismount guidelines when approaching the transition area, the tarmac as opposed to the grass, failed to allow them to judge their speed sufficiently and a number of competitors lost control on dismount, whereby some nasty falls resulted and on a few occasions the medics were called upon. However, despite the number of tumbles, thankfully all competitors appear to have recovered unharmed and finished their race without any further incident.
Tri Start 3 (13-14 year olds)
Tri-Force’s final representative was Jessica Thorn who was competing in the final event of the day against 14 other girls in her first ever Tri Star 3 race.
Although their were no cycling casualties on this occasion, unfortunately, due to many of the 30 athletes approaching the first bend simultaneously, one of the girls did fall within the tangle of legs and regrettably she was unable to continue the race as a result.
As the race continued, Jessica completed her first run in 5th place, she was equal 1st through transition although slipped to 7th on her bike section. Jessica improved to 4th in her second transition, before digging deep to finish a hard fought 3rd in the second run.
Ultimately Jess finished 5th out of the 14 girls taking part.
It’s great to receive feedback from the competitors themselves, as ultimately they are the ones who go through the nerves, excitement and exhaustion to cross that finish line and do so as winners regardless of their race position. Here are a couple below:
Louisa Muller (TriStar 1 Girl)
Before the race I was feeling quite scared and nervous. The race beforehand had a loud crowd watching, I was hoping that it would be like that for us. As I stepped onto the starting line I was shaking with fear, the horn blew and we all cascaded out of the transition area onto the race track like the cars in a Formula 1 race. I was in the 9 to 10-year-olds group. We had to do two laps running, then in the transition area, I pulled on my helmet, got my bike off the rack and ran to the mount line. When I started cycling the cold wind was blowing in my face. We were on a tarmac race-track which was nice and smooth, so we could go as fast as we liked. When I got into transition after the long and hard cycling laps, I felt comfortable with the race apart from my legs being a little bit wobbly. I only had one more lap of running to do and then get to the finish line. As I approached the finish line after the last lap my legs were tired and I could barely breath. I felt rather proud of myself and I also was exhausted but I still LLLLOOOOVVVVEEEEDDDD it !!!
Luke Muller (TriStar2 Boy)
At 10:45 we pulled up in the car park, ready to compete in the Bedford duathlon. We unpacked the bikes from the back of the car and I felt a little nervous as we walked across the car racing track towards the start. Earlier that morning it had been extremely foggy, but now the sun was shining high in the sky, yet there was still a strong wind. I registered myself and got my race number, which was 93, then I did a practice lap on the cycle course with my beautiful new road bike. All the other athletes were jostling around me trying to get to their transition place and set up the bike and helmet. I was excited as I watched Tri start and Tri star 1 do their races. My sister was in Tri-Star 1 and she did very well in her race. Next it was my turn! They called everyone over for the race briefing and then we lined up on the start line and the horn went….I ran off with everyone else feeling excited but nervous about the race to come. The first three laps were really hard and exhausting for me. My legs felt like jelly as I ran the final lap, into the transition zone. I found my bright green bike, strapped on my helmet and off I went. I cycled quite fast down the straight to the circuit. I wasn’t too far behind another athlete in the first corner, where the wind switched from tailwind to headwind, I overtook him and fought against the wind to get to the end of the straight. The wind rushed past my face as I neared the end of it and saw my next target up ahead. I turned a corner and suddenly tailwind filled my back and pushed me along to the next lap. I whizzed down a straight and overtook two boys in front of me on the same corner as before only to be faced by another long stretch of headwind. Here I was lapped by the leaders and other fast cyclists. It seems endlessly long but eventually I reached the end of it and I was greeted by the beauty of tailwind again. I shot down towards my third, and final lap. On that lap my lucky corner didn’t strike again but fortunately I caught another girl ahead of me at the very end of the hardest straight. As I whizzed around the corner, wind blowing in my face, I realized how much I love this sport. I rocketed down towards the transition zone and jumped off my bike just before the dismount line. The last two laps were a killer but I knew that they were the last thing in this duathlon and I had to give everything! I felt really proud of myself as I ran down the home straight, the finish line was only meters away I took my last few steps and hurled my body across the finish line. I was greeted by a wave of applause from my friends and family. After completing it I got an amazing medal which I can always be proud of and remember that I did the Bedford duathlon.
And so a new year begins, and with the experienced performers already showing such early signs of character, strength and determination to be within touching distance of a podium place alongside the determination and obvious ability of the new Tri Force new recruits, 2016 could prove to be another successful year for the Tri Force team.