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Jim McConnel: Cross Du Champ
Posted by: Editor
Posted on: Tuesday 31st March 2015


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A long time stalwart of the off-road scene, Jim McConnel had a great day at Hole Park in Kent at the weekend, securing his first ever National Championship at the Triathlon England Cross Duathlon Championships.

"One-nil to the 40+ brigade!". Here is his report from a very challenging race.


The Triathlon England Cross Duathlon Championships were held last weekend within the picturesque award-winning gardens and grounds of Hole Park with views of the Weald of Kent.

Cross Duathlon comprises three parts, in this case – 10k Trail Run, 21k Mountain Bike, followed by a final 5k Trail Run.

In this race the run section took in views of the famous Hole Park orchards as it looped around the Estate, whilst the MTB section criss-crossed the many tracks and fields and dropped steeply into wooded cover where riders were seen splashing through several ford crossings. Another testing element of the bike section was an equestrian cross county fence where competitors had to dismount and jump over each lap!

Race day was stormy overhead with spitting rain and fearsome cross winds to spice things up. My favourite.

My old bones told me it was going to be a tough day as youngster Sam Begg attempted to tear the race up from the gun.

With the first mile covered in about 5 mins 20, he was pulling away. The pace was fierce and the field thinned quickly at the front as we turned onto the muddier sections. Fortunately the road man found it tougher going as the trail worsened and by the end of the first 10k, we had a small group of three with along Army Tri man Phil Westoby, and a slender lead over some of the stronger bikers in the pack behind. 

Out onto the bike and the three of us took turns in the wind, but as we started lap two and showing his superior biking prowess, Sam Gardner reached the front pack. Within moments of his arrival, the pack split and I hung on grimly on the fast slippery course. 

Battling to stay out of the wind, we got a decent gap on Phil Westoby and Sam Begg. Finally the elastic broke as the ex-elite MTBer clawed a gap on me. Left to battle lap three on my own I got a big surprise as Sam came charging past me for a second time. I found out later he had made a wrong turn and visited T2 early, losing over a minute at the end of lap two.

Jim McConnel

Motivated to have him in sight again, I dug deep to concede only 45 seconds to him as we reached T2. Going out onto the second run, my legs felt strong and the moment I glimpsed Sam ahead in the trees on a fast downward section, I turned up the wick to close him down. The course went out for 2km with the wind behind and then turned back into a strong headwind so I knew timing the attack was key. As we approached the turn, and after a few recovery breaths, I decided it was make or break time. Conscious I couldn't dare to let Sam draft me all the way to the line, I pulled out and dropped the hammer. 30 seconds later, the hurt satchel was well and truly open, but I glanced back to see I had 60 yards over Gardner, maybe hurting from his bike errors, so I pushed on as hard as I possibly could. After a painful eternity, I crossed the line in front after two hours and five minutes. I was more than surprised to see Sam follow me in nearly three minutes later. James Walker rounded out the top three.

I had a great day, a mixture of good preparation, a healthy body and a suitably tough course, mixed with just a small dose of luck, helped me to take my first National Championship ever. One-nil to the 40+ brigade over the youngsters…

Thanks to everyone who helped me get there. Kates, @compressport, @lazerhelmets, @ridley_bikes, @ukmadison.

Next up in Cross Du – ETU Champs in Northern Spain (near Bilbao) in October where I'll get to race in the 40-44 age category against all the other old multisport goats of Europe.

FULL RESULTS

Top 10 Men - Triathlon England Cross Duathlon Champs 2015

Pos
Bib
Name Club Sx
Run 1
T1
Bike
T2
Run 2
Time
By cat.
1.
40
JIM McCONNEL Madison.co.uk M
40:55
00:45
01:00:58
00:46
21:42
02:05:07
1
2.
1
SAM GARDNER Berkshire Tri Squad M
41:54
00:46
00:58:59
00:47
24:35
02:07:03
2
3.
29
JAMES WALKER Manchester Tri Club M
42:57
00:29
01:02:10
01:00
25:00
02:11:37
1
4.
3
JON HEASMAN Thames Turbo M
44:02
01:00
01:02:27
00:45
24:35
02:12:51
3
5.
8
SAM BEGG 7Oaks Tri Club M
40:57
00:35
01:07:10
00:51
24:12
02:13:47
2
6.
57
SCOTT O'NEILL Stourbridge Velo M
41:56
00:51
01:05:45
00:41
25:01
02:14:16
1
7.
55
PHILIP WESTOBY Army Triathlon M
40:56
00:39
01:08:57
00:44
24:53
02:16:10
4
8.
14
RICK FEATHERSTON   M
45:29
01:03
01:06:19
00:55
25:42
02:19:31
1
9.
4
JEZ COX HowGoodCouldIBe M
42:38
00:51
01:06:59
00:58
28:34
02:20:01
2
10.
2
RICHARD STANNARD   M
46:18
00:39
01:08:51
00:47
26:28
02:23:04
5

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