BUCS Duathlon – the biggest run-bike-run event on our race calendar each year – is a two-mile run, ten-mile cycle, followed by a final two-mile run to the finish. This year UEA Duathlon took twenty triathletes to race at Castle Combe circuit, an equal spread of ten men and ten women. Fearing the worst as the minibus was pelted with rain along the M4 on Saturday, conditions were surprisingly mild on by the time the first wave set off just after 1pm the next day, cold but dry and bright.
All of the UEA competitors did exceptionally well, some brilliant first-time results and lots of PBs for returning duathletes.
Bikes racked in transition, warm outer layers stripped off and last-minute fuel in the form of Go Native energy bars taken on board, UEA were ready to race.
First up were the elite men (Jake Brockwell, Matt Floyd, James McLean, and Caolan Stowe), with Brockwell sprinting a 5:08 first mile, pushing ahead of other UEA participants. Floyd made up some time in T1 then managed to pass Jake on the bike. Meanwhile Brockwell and I were battling for third UEA male on the bike, where Brockwell managed to make up lost time on the first run to come steaming past a large chunk of the field.
Onto the final two-mile run, Brockwell managed to push on and get past Floyd – both deep in the pain cave by this time. Brockwell crossed the line in a time of 45:19.7 putting him in 52nd place, with Floyd only five seconds behind in 53rd.
As I racked my bike in transition, I could see James McLean disappear around the corner. The few seconds I managed to gain on the second run weren’t enough to catch up with the Irish powerhouse, who crossed the line in 49:30, thirty-six seconds ahead of my newly set PB.
Whilst the elite men were pounding the pavement in the final leg of the race, the elite women set off: Hannah Bye, Abby Carter, Nancy Connolly, Daisy Donaldson, Bethany Plummer, Holly Prentice, Lydia Felton, and Katie Houston. Bye was fastest UEA woman in all three legs, with a time of 51:10.1 earning her an impressive 19th place in a very competitive field.
After the first run, Connolly was the second UEA elite woman, with just over a minute on Carter in third at this point.
Carter’s impressive bike split of 25:56 allowed her to overtake Connolly before they both hurtled into the final run. Connolly made up some time over the two miles, coming in 54 seconds after Carter finished with 56:01.
The final mixed wave set off at 2:30pm, with plenty of athletes representing UEA Tri: Ollie Tooth, Michael Michaelides, Henryk Haniewicz, Fufu Fang, Peter McCarthy, Georgia Penrose, Pat Niyomsilp, and Kelly Phillips. Tooth led the way from the gun, Michaelides hot on his tail coming into T1 just 4 seconds behind. Tooth managed to pull away on the bike putting him in a great position as he dismounted and headed into T2. Hampered by a stitch on the second run, he still managed to smash his PB by over a minute, 54:56. Michael ducked under the magic hour with 59:47.
The team enjoyed seeing alumnus and ex-president Tom Huband, who was racing in the proto-col Chilly Duathlon before the first BUCS wave set off. He came 10th overall with 6th fastest bike time (again!).
UEA set off back to campus, stopping off for a debrief at the usual South Mimms services. The team would like to give special thanks minibus and van drivers Simon Brown (also chief mechanic) and Katie Houston, car drivers Bethany Plummer and Nancy Connolly also, kudos and thanks to alumnus Dr Dave Chesterman who drove down after a long shift to cheer us on and grab some great GoPro footage.
As always, UEA will be back again next year.