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Wed 16th Jun 2021
TrailMan: Roger Fowkes reports
Posted by: Editor
Posted on: Tuesday 18th March 2014

Tags  Human Race  |  Roger Fowkes  |  Trailman

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Roger Fowkes reports from a very different sort of duathlon this week. No Rutland Ripple this time, just mud and hills but with a potential series title up for grabs it's all to play for.

Going into the last event of the Human Race Off Road Duathlon Series it was right down to the wire to decide who was going to take the crown and be the overall series champion. Myself and Alex Dewar were both level on 144 points each.

I was a little bit over-keen and excited and I will admit I was the first competitor to arrive on Sunday morning – registration wasn't even open yet and it was a little bit cold with a grey sky and a bit of wind blowing on the exposed hill top where transition and race start HQ was based. With plenty of time in the bag my son George and I did a lap of the bike course. OMG!!! This was going to be a tough cookie although the lap distance wasn't that long it certainly had a little bit of everything – some small technical sections where it was probably best to get off the bike, a real sticky muddy hill, again best pushing the bike, and a great downhill section on a rutted track and every now and again you would get a real sticky bit either to ride through or not as the case may be. To finish the lap you would come out into a field which would then lead you on the main pathway back to the start/finish area.

So lining at the start the sun had started to shine and it was the beginnings of a great day. A lot of the usual suspects were absent - probably due to the rescheduling of this event due to the floods but my rival Alex was there and also Colin Dixon who I have raced against a few times in the past.

On paper it didn't sound too bad, a 6k run followed by a 20k bike and another 6k run – how wrong could I have been! The 6k run was a very hard 6k – long gradual hills and lots and lots of mud – a real back-breaker. After his initial rush off at the start James Walker was caught and reeled in by Colin and myself just before we got to the first climb. I was feeling fairly happy and fairly comfortable staying just behind Colin when I went through a real patch of squelchy mud and left my trainer behind!! B**!?!ks! I knew I had to go back and get it and by the time I had it back on Colin had opened up a gap which I could not close although I did try to begin with. I then really felt that I was going to have a bad race and luck wasn't going to be on my side when I fell down one of the slippery descents.

Into transition and out on the bike, I couldn't see Colin at all until I got to the bottom of the steep muddy climb (The Pusher), seeing Colin in front I certainly perked up and it made me go harder but at the same time exiting the top of the muddy hill I glanced over my shoulder and saw a figure that looked to me like Alex. Oh hell I thought, he is going well...

I managed to catch Colin and pass him on the rutted downhill track where again I told myself speed was my friend, don't touch the brakes and just go for it – you will get through!!! Down the long drag past transition to start the second lap at the bottom of the hill you go over a real rough section where the track is basically made up of bricks. I think I must have got a snake bite and that put a stopper on any more forward progress. I quickly pulled over to the side, wheel off, tube out got the new tube out of the saddle bag and in it went like grease lightening. The CO2 cartridge soon blew it up and I was off again. During this time Colin shot past and closely followed by someone who I thought was Alex. I immediately had thoughts of losing the series but still thought I was in with a chance – there was still another two laps to do and I was thinking whether I could catch him in the remaining two laps. On the final lap in roughly the same place I caught Colin again and I passed him (later on he said he tried following my line but his front wheel went down a rut and I was gone...).

Looking round to see where Colin is as I entered transition I was pleased with how much ground between us there is.

Out on the run I am seriously feeling it. My legs were just like solid lumps of lead. Over the crest of the hill I could see right in the distance at the bottom this figure running off into the woods and he had a massive gap on me. I just kept covering the ground – whereas on the first lap I could run up the hills I was now reduced to walking up them. Sure enough before the last long climb where you turn right at the top and make your way back to the finish Colin caught and passed me, we exchanged a few words and he said he felt bad because I had a puncture. As he ran in front of me I couldn't help think he looks a bit like a wildebeast flinging his legs and arm about but total respect to the guy – even with that style he is a flying machine. All that was left for me was running to the finish, in my mind I was happy to settle for second in the series and I was just pleased that I was able to continue the race. Crossing the finish line I couldn't see Alex although James was standing there, It wasn't until the commentator announced that I had won the series championship that the penny dropped, the person I thought was Alex was actually James – they certainly did look the same to me, they both had red and black tri-suits on.

Alex came home in eighth place after battling all the way round, he said he just a nightmare of a race and he had been suffering from pneumonia the week before, fair play to the guy for coming out and actually racing!

The venue for this last race was absolutely mental and a great series run by the Human Race team. I will certainly still be taking my beetroot juice and on my bike five days a week!

Hope to see you all at the next one - BRING IT ON!!!

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