Racepace athletes got the 2017 season underway at the weekend at the Kielder off-road Duathlon organised by High Terrain Events.
Representing Racepace were Andy Curtis, Ben Slaven, Mark Egan, Sarah Jepson, Rob Cassidy, Rodger Wilkins and myself, Beau Smith. The race was held at Kielder Castle in Northumberland and comprised a tough 8km trail run, a 23km MTB (mountain bike) ride around the forest trails and single track of Kielder Forest before a second trail run of 7km. All of the team ran well and after the first run Racepace were leading the way with Rodger first back, closely pursued by me with Sarah coming in 4th lady.
MTB isn't something we all particularly train regularly so it's a challenge to compete with those who do, but we were all aware of this heading into the race. I embraced the tough going challenge and enjoyed the course. I found myself in the lead a couple of km in and pushed on to gain an advantage before two strong and skilful riders passed me who went on to finish 1st and 2nd.
Starting the second run after over an hour and 40minutes of racing meant fatigue was setting in and the undulating 7km route was a hard slog. Although I felt tired and laboured I tried hard to focus on running strongly and completed the course to maintain 3rd position and finish the race in a time of 2:11:13. Rodger held his 4th position after also finding the course very challenging.
I was particularly pleased to be at the event with Ben who I've been working closely with in a coaching capacity. Ben was the next Racepace athlete to finish having given everything and raced strongly across all three stages. Ben was closely followed by Sarah who battled hard all the way to the line to take 3rd lady, an agonising two seconds behind 2nd place. Unfortunately the difficulty of the event caused an old knee injury to reappear for Rob who was forced to withdraw from the race early in the second run. Andy performed well in his first multisport event and showed some of the fitness he has developed during the Wednesday night bric sessions. Mark gave his all throughout the tough event, made tougher by a recent prolonged bout of illness hampering his training in the run up to the event.
There was a relaxed but clear and determined team spirit amongst all RP athletes & coaches, something I have missed over recent years. I felt it pushed us all on to give every ounce of effort we could. Congratulations to the top two men David Mirfiled and Andrew Douglas, and the top two women Marie Meldrum and Rebecca Bright, and of course to all the competitors who raced. For results follow the link below: