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Fri 9th Dec 2016
World Duathlon Champs, Rimini
Posted by: Colette O'Neill
Posted on: Thursday 2nd October 2008

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World Duathlon Champs, Rimini.

It's official - I'm the fastest … in the world …in my age group…in a duathlon…at T1! That's not bad for someone who has been known to get lost in transition, or forget where the exit is, or resort to asking a spectator where the water is to orientate themselves. Although I was not quite on a par with someone I once met who sat down to eat their nicely wrapped sandwiches before heading off on their next discipline, I have come along way from where I was.

run start

Rimini is a great location for time-trial bikers (as opposed to hill-climbers), since it is completely flat. The Italian organisation was also a bit flat in places. Billions of athletes assembled at the main hotel for the race briefing, only to be told that it was just for team managers. We were told there would be no body marking, only to find out there was as we racked just before the race. However, the hotels were all within a five minute walk to the action, and although we weren't in the team hotel, we were in the company of some of the winning athletes. We also had a Jacuzzi in our bathroom which was top dog, and could access free rental upright bikes – we had planned to have a ride-as-slow-as-you-can-like-the-locals race the day after the duathlon, but our stiff legs put paid to that.

lobsterWhilst coming 7th in my age group was a bit off my expectations, it would be easy to blame it on the ‘last supper’ of the previous night. I had ordered pasta with crayfish in the lively pizzeria full of athletes, the menu stating that the dish would be "unforgettable". A tad concerned that this would translate into a night talking to God down the big white telephone, any fears were dissipated by the shock of a huge lobster presented on my plate – not your usual pre-event meal. The waiters had a good laugh at my attempts to eat the thing armed with a pair of pliers, since I ended up looking like a toddler without a bib. The seafood reminded me of a joke: I used to go out with a posh boy. It didn't work out… he gave me lobsters.  Der dum tschss.  Yes, well, anyway, I had no problems that night and slept well.

All lady age groupers raced at 4:15 pm – always a difficult time to race for me as it's hard to get your eating right.  Perhaps that's why, despite no problems when warming up, I suffered an almighty stitch/cramp from the first step of the first run of the race which was to last all of the 10k. I gave up trying to pace myself as I was way below forecast, instead focusing on pain minimisation – I am told I looked a bit of a hunched over old dear on the first run. The four lap course was confusingly windy (that’s winding and gusty), and each lap lasted an eternity.

Still, I was hoping things would be better on the bike. After my super-lightening T1 where I took a few places, I felt a bit more in my comfort zone. The course was six laps out and back along the promenade, on a very windy day. It was unanimously decided by the ladies that the stillness of the following day made the men's race a piece of cake in comparison! I am pleased to say that I was overtaken only by four American girls (all on P3s) plus Emma Dews. I shouted encouragement which she returned, then she was gone (but not like the wind).

team pic

Back into transition and a reasonable T2 brought me back onto the run course. Without the stitch, I was a bit more comfortable. I was overtaken by a clubmate and hung on as best I could but couldn't gain any more on her. Luckily, after I grabbed a flag from Ian Ford, I heard a shout of “she’s just behind you”. Whilst I was tempted to reply “oh no she isn't…”, I found enough to sprint to the finish, beating the next girl in my age group by two seconds.

haematoma, aka 'lumpy'So given my limited training, in all it was a reasonable race result. The haematoma I suffered in May (pictured left, sorry if you are squeamish), had taken months of twice weekly electrotherapy sessions, plus specific massage and regular compression, and had prevented any form of training for over a month. So, it was a case of trying to get fit again, doing a few races and only about two weeks of focused training before travelling out to Rimini. Without the tummy cramps, I may have made up a few places, but with running and fitness deficits I was never going to be in the medals.

Since my last blog, I have managed a first place at Weymouth Sprint, an overall second at the Bananaman Tri and the Rugby Sprint, and an age group win at the Thames Turbo sprint. I have one more race before the end of the season at Bedford - apparently there is a hurricane due this weekend, so that will be fun. I am now looking forward to getting fit proper-like over the winter, with a focus on off-road biking and running and a few races thrown in – a transition phase that I hope will be a change for the good, just like my T1 in Rimini.

Colette O'Neill About the Author
Colette started in triathlon in 2001 with Hillingdon Triathletes, recording several overall wins. The following season was almost completely wiped out after being (incorrectly) diagnosed with a brain tumour in July. Despite this, she competed in her first World Championships in Cancun that November. 2003 saw her best season to date, including several overall race wins and course records in road running & triathlon, plus silver medals at the World Age Group Duathlon and National Indoor Rowing Champs. Despite numerous setbacks, Colette tenaciously continues to restore her health and fitness.

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