Goodwood Spring Duathlon - March 19
My first duathlon for a while and a great season opener ahead of open water triathlon season. This reasonably small event is held at Goodwood Motor racing track in West Sussex. The Standard Distance consists of a 3.8k run (1 lap), 38k bike (10 laps) and 7.6k (2 laps) run is held entirely on the 3.8km race track. It’s a lovely smooth surface and reasonably flat, but the long incline just over halfway through each lap feels like it gets a little steeper each time.
The event kicks off with the junior Tri Star races and it’s great to watch the future stars in action. This year the event took place on the first Sunday of British Summertime, so although a late 10:30am start time, with loosing an hour’s sleep, it still felt like an early start.
Good parking and toilet facilities (no queues) and small café for hot drinks. Registration on the morning was quick as was racking of the bike.
Around 130 had entered the Standard Distance and we stood at the start line on the track by the pits awaiting the start signal. We watched the flags blowing in the increasing wind, at least it was dry and not too cold (unlike the previous year, I hear), then we were off.
The field soon spread out and settled down. As usual some went off too quick and these were passed half way round. Into the last corner, through the chicane and then transition. Got this one just right (fastest in category for the day) and off for 10 laps on the bike. You must count the laps yourself and as my memory is useless, I’d set up my Garmin on the bike to also display distance and as a backup my watch was set to ‘auto lap’ every 3.8km. The combination of the two gave me the confidence to complete the correct number of laps, unlike some!!
The bike went ok. It was my first event on the Time Trial bike and although the aero position was comfortable to hold, my backside had not spent enough time on the saddle and with this being such a flat and smooth surface there was little need to get out of the saddle. What also became evident was the different position changes how your muscles used.
After the event my hip adductors and glutes were pretty sore and stiffened up over the afternoon. I knew that I needed to spend time on the TT bike and although longer rides had been completed, they were mainly relaxed with just a few efforts. Still I had a good ride. It proved the position was good, that my hydration system worked and that I could run well off the bike.
Bike dismount approached much quicker than I was expecting and getting my feet out of and then on top of my shoes was rushed and did not go smoothly. No flying dismount today, more of an undignified abrupt stop and get off, to only then discover the line I’d stopped at by the cones and the marshal was not the dismount line, this was 30 feet further along. Lesson learnt!!
T2 went well, there are handy numbers on the grandstand, so remember which number your place in transition is near and you’ll easily find your spot.
Just two laps to run now. Cyclists were still looping the track and runners from the Standard and Sprint distances kept to the inside meter. The legs felt good, but it was not long until I sensed someone gaining on me. This was confirmed by a marshal towards the end of the first lap who shouted "The race is on Team GBers". Never look around!! I didn’t and continued to run my own race, but within a minute another GB Age Grouper slowly passed me. We exchanged smiles and he said "It’s taken ages for me to catch you". At that point I thought he’s been pushing himself for a while and his breathing proved it. He gained about 10 meters and then the gap remained stable. There was a slight incline into the wind about halfway round and the gap reduced slightly. We rounded Lavant Corner and headed back towards the finish and up the incline that is Lavant Straight. I picked up the pace a little, but kept my breathing controlled and the gap closed. I caught him at Woodcote, the final corner, and passed him. It was crunch time, how much did he have left. He was on my shoulder and I thought I’d gone too early, but thankfully he started to fall back. It had paid off. I kept up my pace for another 30 seconds, just to be sure, and then eased back a bit. Around the final corner exiting the track and onto the gravel for the final 100m behind the grandstand and across the finish line. That was fun!!
We had a sweaty hug and a great chat after the finish line and shared our triathlon experiences, before collecting the great finishers medal and saying goodbye.
Would I do the event again? Probably yes, because of the closed roads, time in the season, it’s not too far away, it's arranged by a triathlon club and a great venue (one that I’d previously raced around many a weekend in my car). A big thank you to all the organisers and marshals for their time, effort and friendliness for this 30th edition of the Goodwood Spring Duathlon.
+ Really inclusive (Tri Star, sprint and standard distances).
+ All abilities (Time trial bikes to mountain bikes. Experienced athletes to first timers. All ages).
+ Closed road.
+ Iconic motor racing venue.
+ Great medal.
+ Great marshals.
Exposed, so prepare for wind.
Not for those who don’t like loops.
Ensure you know mount/dismount and finish route as not that well explained and changes depending on event.