2013 Duathalon World Championships
By: Andy Ames
I have long dreamed of running the perfect race. Last week that dream became a reality.
As a life long runner and cyclist, I figured there was no better way to celebrate my 50th year than focusing on the ITU World Duathlon Championships held this year in Ottawa, Canada. It would be my 6th time in the event over the last 20 years. It was over 10 years since my last participation, however. I had some good success in it in the past placing 2nd in my age group in 1999 and 4th in 2001. In 2002, though, I raced with injuries, faded badly, ending up a disappointing 18th.
My preparation for the race went really well with an encouraging 2nd overall in the Big Sky Duathlon a few weeks before the event. The week before the Worlds I decided to do one last test running the Evergreen Town Race 10k. Since it was largely gradually down hill I figured it would give me a good indication of my sea level pace. Unfortunately, I felt tight the whole way and never felt relaxed, running slower than I expected and with cramped hamstrings. The good news was that it really forced me to rest up the next few days and by the day before the Championships I felt better than ever.
Race morning I woke with a burning sore throat. A little cause for alarm but I could still breath fine and felt fresh. Strangely I felt much less nervous than I normally do before the start.
Once the gun went off everything started to fall into place. It was quite windy so I knew tactics could play a large role in the race. In the first mile of the opening 10k run I joined a small lead group making sure to stay out of the wind. Soon it was just me and one other, a competitor from Great Britain. In previous years I would have really pushed the pace at this point, trying to gain as big a lead as possible before getting on the bike. This time around I knew I was a
little short on endurance and patience would be key. We ran together the rest of the way, going right through the first transition and onto our bikes. Then the strangest thing happened, out of the corner of my eye the GB runner stopped. I assumed an official must have stopped him for some infraction but later found out he had a flat tire and no spare. Suddenly I was on my own.
The bike course was a good one for me, basically 2 laps of an out and back with a few corners thrown in for 40k. This would allow me to check on my competitor at each of the turnarounds. Being in the first heat of the day I now had the whole course to myself, just me and the lead motorcycle. Could this really be happening? Without other cyclists around it was hard to tell if I was going fast enough. The first turnaround would tell. I didn't check my watch but after making the turn I could tell I had built a really nice lead, close to 2 minutes or almost a mile! Now I needed to make sure to just really pace myself. Through the end of the first lap I still had a big lead. It was an amazing feeling and I was inspired going past the crowds near the start/finish area. At the final turn I could see that some guys were closing in but with only about 5 miles to go I should be safe. If anyone caught me now they would have expended a lot of energy and would still have a 5k run to go. I was still in the drivers's seat having the luxury of easing off a bit to save something for the final run.
Once off the bike it was back through the transition area again. There is no better feeling than coming into an empty bike rack! That means all your competition is still out on the road. Off the bike and into my running shoes, I quickly found my running stride. One of the later heats was also now on the running course. As I was on my final 5k run they were half way through their first 10k. I tried to keep pace but gradually fell behind. As other runners came by I would nervously check the age marked on the back of their leg to make sure they were not from my heat. At this point in the race it would be really hard to lift my pace. With a could miles still to go I could feel my pace
slowing. My legs reminded me that nothing worthwhile comes easy. My stride shortened and my muscles cramped-hamstring, calves, hips. Now I was just focused on the finish. With the sight of the banner, the joy of accomplishment suddenly erased all the pain in my legs. It really did happen! I thought of all those years of running and riding. I was now a Duathlon World Champion! A dream come true.