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Dambuster Duathlon: Roger Fowkes
Posted by: Editor
Posted on: Monday 10th March 2014


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The first GB Age Group team qualification race of the season took place on Saturday. The Dambuster Duathlon from Pacesetter Events is held at Rutland Water in Leicestershire, and was a qualifier for the 2014 World and 2015 European Championships.

We sent Roger Fowkes to race and report back for us. Roger has been racing well through the winter on the off-road circuit, but could he translate that fitness and form without the mud? Here is his report.


Dambuster Duathlon - Saturday 8th March 2013
10km - 42km - 5km

Eat, sleep, train repeat. Eat, sleep, train, repeat; that's what a lot of the competitors had been doing all over the winter and I for one had been trying my best to follow this principle. Not to mention nearly overdosing on beetroot juice.

At 6am in the morning the car park where we had slept overnight started filling up rapidly. I opted to arrive the night before, taking in a drive around the bike course just to see what I was in for. Still dark and with a distinct chill in the air, I headed down to the race HQ for registration. Yes this was the big one, European and World's qualifier this was the reason for excessive amounts of beetroot juice. I could not help notice a bit of a breeze blowing and wondered if the deep front wheel was a bit of a bad idea. To make things worse when I got back to the van and pulled my bike out, the guy next to me said "I wouldn't be on those wheels today". Great I thought, putting more doubt in my mind! It's all I had and that was that, let's get on with it I said to myself.

Time seemed to be slipping away and at 7.30am I was still flapping around getting ready - the onset of panic was not what I needed.

With set up in transition done and the usual running over the entrance and exit routes in my mind I was ready. Super slick race director Mark Shaw gave us the race briefing.

The countdown was on. Straight after the briefing I started warming up... thought Id try something different and downed a High5 energy gel. The music was banging out from the harbour café and I felt good. The first wave with the youngsters and relAy runners were off at 8.20. I was next up, male 40-49. They called us to the start, in the zone thinking about the task ahead! The horn will sound in the next 30 seconds, the music was turned off and we where ready at the start to go.

Along the start straight I lead the field out, still feeling as if I where floating on air when one-by-one the strong runners came by. Fantastic smooth, flattish concrete path the course followed with a small grass section up to the dam. Past the first drinks station at 2.5k, I was running in seventh with a small group in front, half of me saying 'come on push, push, stay with theses guys' and the other half saying 'ease up, race your own race you've got a long way to go'.

A compromise was called for. Now running along the dam you could really feel the wind and just before the end of the dam we meet the first wave heading back. At the 5k turnaround I checked my watch to see 17.43 which blew my mind, that's a new PB for 5k for me... was I going to hard? Back along the dam wall I could hear the heavy breathing of another competitor closing down on me. As we turned off the dam and headed across the grass section he cruised past, my legs now starting to feel the pace.

Approaching transition, thoughts started to turn to the bike. Super smooth in and out I think, I already snatched one place back. Almost exiting together with Paul Miller, I faffed about with my shoes and he was up the road 30 - 40 meters gained on me. My game plan was to down a gel at the start of the bike and another one just over half way. I kept Paul in my sights as I gasped for air whilst trying to get the entire contents of the gel down my throat. It certainly took a fair bit of time for me to settle down and find my bike legs. I made my move on Paul and kept my head down plugging away at it. One by one I would catch and pass another. I did not know what position I was by now as we were passing a lot of the competitors from the first wave.

The bike was a little twitchy and a couple of times I was blown off course but did not pause for concern, speed is your friend I told myself. Past the half way point marked by the petrol garage then left on the A6121 I went for my second gel, taking a slug of water from my bottle to help and as I went to place it back in the holder my leg caught it and it was gone..oops!.

Another left turn and another hill! I am sure this wasn't here last night (?!) brought us back to the main road. Sharp left and just the run in along the main road back to transition was left to do. Feeling the effects of pushing hard all the way the last couple of miles in to T2 my speed certainly dropped off.

Now just the 5k left to do - was it going to feel like the usual torture and feeling sick I was thinking as I approached the dismount line! Legs jelly like, I tried my best to find a good pace and rhythm. As I hit the first bend the first competitor in wave one closely followed by another were heading back for the finish.

One guy passed me at the beginning but I was sure he was in a different wave. I ran as hard as I could, tried getting a drink at the turn around point but more ended up on the floor than in my mouth. No energy left for a sprint finish, just as well there was no one near me.

Wow what a race, feeling pretty pleased with myself I chilled out with coffee and cake as the sun stared to shine.

Some sort of glitch with the timing system (no glitch - someone dropped the results screen...) meant we had to wait around for the results to be announced at the prize giving, but this delay did not take anything away from a great event and if anything added a bit of suspense. Joe Cox, the GB Age Group Team Manager was there to hand out the prizes and I came away with a nice silver plate, bottle of wine and a massive grin on my face.

Well done to organisers (Pacesetter Events), volunteers and everyone involved with this super race.

Pos Men Women
1st Dan Bigham (Oxford Brookes Uni) 1:55:12 Sarah May (Calderdale Tri Club) 2:12:13
2nd Hugh Mackenzie (Imperial College Tri Club) 1:55:19 Gill Fullen (Bedford Harriers) 2:14:08
3rd Duncan Bullock 1:56:31 Louise Fox (Thames Valley Tri) 2:15:45
9th (1st M40-44) Roger Fowkes (Hillingdon Triathletes) 2:00:53  

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