Northumberland Duathlon, 2nd April 2023

Julie Cross is one of those runners who also likes to see what she can do on two wheels occasionally. She had this to say about her duathlon experience this weekend:

“I always use the word ‘dabble’ when talking my about tri- and duathlon activity…more so on the day. If anyone is considering giving these events a go – do!

Next to the chap, who looked young enough to be one of my GCSE students, who was meticulously arranging his bike shoes on the pedals and double checking his helmet was within a millimetre of the ideal pick up, was me – cautiously casting an eye out for another dabbler. There is always one nearby, we home in on each other, somewhat relieved, sizing up the bikes …as if I know what I’m looking for.

To paraphrase Ben Hull, you look around not long after 7am on a beautiful Sunday morning at all of the athletes getting their s*** together in a gorgeous Northumberland nature park, and think: humanity is ok really.

But it was freeeeezing! Last minute decision to run in long sleeves (the pros seemed to be covered up) must have masked my amateur approach.

I always try a bit of humorous small talk at the start line, the reply to which was ‘Which age category are you in?’ I still haven’t decided whether to be flattered by this particularly athletic looking lady asking, who I subsequently overtook in the first run, but who then said she was ‘just sizing up the opposition’ … she was in the over 60s…and subsequently whizzed past me on the bike.

Running is what we do, home turf. The bike ride takes technique, ‘handling the bike well’, being streamlined. I know these rules, but am yet to seriously apply them. Fellow Claremonters have said to me, ‘but I don’t ride at your level’, to which I am always polite and never to date have laughed out loud. But please, if you ever do join me at one of these events, keep such fantasies to yourself.

I puffed and grinded and even got threatened with a 2 second penalty, as well as reprimanded en route because my number wasn’t visible, AND checked further down the road that I had corrected it. Serious stuff.

The ride was a slog, a busy road for such an early start, no interest value aside from the turning points, and the cloud of the final run hanging heavily. It doesn’t stack up: jumping off a bike, legs screaming, and trying to run, let alone race 5.75 km. But once you think your legs might not seize up, and you probably can get round, and anyway it still beats a day at work, you’ve done one lap.

Friendly marshalls, stunning setting and exceptional weather play their part, and shouts from the mum of an ex pupil (the connection is a long story involving getting lost on the way to a cross country just before Covid).

And before you know it, you’re done…literally. Nice kind man at the end offering water if it’s my thing, but don’t force it if you’re not ready, not rushing me to take my chip off, then realising it was a long way down, took it off for me. You emerge, and it’s not even 10 o’clock.”

Very well done Julie for taking 1st place in her age category!

StageLeg TimeTime
Run 126:5226:52
Transition 101:2728:20
Transition 201:0201:16:25
Run 226:1701:42:43
Laurie Johnson -