Adventures of the Cotic - A Quick Release holidays mountain bike race team

Thursday, 15 October 2015

European Cross-Duathlon Champs - Castro Urdiales - 10 October 2015

Kirsty reports back from a well deserved cross-duathlon on to find out more.

What a stunning location for a race - beats my previous Spanish racing experience (Alcobendas / Alcy Benders / Alc Horrendous as it's variously now known) hands down.  Pretty coastal town with golden beaches, fishing boats and an impressive castle.

Met up with some of my GB teammates at Heathrow - there was a great team atmosphere throughout the event.  Fairly late arriving into Castro, so after checking out my enormous room at the Sercotel Las Rocas, time for a quick glass of wine (rude not to), snack then bed.

Friday morning... beach time then bike-building... seemless until I managed to fully deflate one of my tubeless tyres, dammit.  The track pump just wasn't man enough.  I eventually located a CO2 canister...  2 minutes later all sorted, then time to head down to the race village for registration and a recce of the bike course.

The bike course was so much better than I expected - rocky fireroads, with 3 technical pitches and a fun descent.  The climbs were do-able, but likely to be a lot trickier with all the race traffic.  Great gnarly descent - plenty of line choices - then a fast, straightforward couple of km to the end. With 300m+ of climbing each lap, 3 laps were going to be brutal!

Registration - in typical Spanish style, 2 hours later than planned - rolled into pre-race briefing, then dinner.  Great chat with a few of the team - I am now honoured to have met (one half of) the world record holder for the 3-legged marathon!  Awesome :-)

Race day...  bring it on!!  Contrary to most duathlons which have a ridiculously early start, today we were starting at 4:20pm which meant a lie-in and chilled morning.  At 2pm, we had an easy spin over to the start.  Racking was the usual British affair (i.e. lots of queuing). Time to warm up, then into the transition area ready for the start. There's always a bit of a wait while the different races start, so I kept warmed up with leg swings, dynamic stretches and a few tuck jumps (if it helps psych the opposition out, that's cool).

Kirsty focussed on the start line (Photo credit ETU Triathlon)
Finally we're called to the start line, the hooter goes and we're off.  6km run in what felt like oppressive heat... 2 laps along the coastal path.  True to form, I led from the gun, so I could see who came through (my targets on the bike!).  I made the tactical decision to slow to a fast walk for a couple of the short climbs, as it was so hot and energy-sapping, and it was going to be a long race.  Hoping this would pay off later on.

The run was so hard - not helped by a short stretch along the beach which sapped any remaining energy - I was incredibly happy to reach transition (apparently "in the medals") and hit the bike.  Into my element, picking off people throughout the first lap.  Too much traffic on course to ride any of the techy climbs, but I thoroughly enjoyed the descent.  The course got better and seemed shorter as each lap passed.  Fantastic support from the GB crowd.  By the third lap, I had a feeling I was in the lead, but couldn't be 100% sure as there were lots of different categories and I had lapped at least one girl in my category.  The third lap flew by; loving that descent, whooping and grinning, taking in the sea view.

Into transition - no other bikes in my area... always a good sign.  Just the little matter of a 3km run. Thankfully the temperature had cooled a little, and I focused on always looking forward.  I took it steady at first, but started to stretch out towards the end and gave it a decent sprint finish.  I crossed the line pretty sure that I had done it, but it was a good 20 minutes before the results were up and confirmation...


Top step for Kirsty & flying the flag for GBR (Photo credit Harold Abellan Photography)
I also had the fastest overall age-group time, until I discovered that a Dutch girl had dropped down from Elite as this was the only way that she would be allowed to act as guide in the para event.  What a ridiculous policy.  She was effectively forced into a decision between her race and her partner's, and was never going to let her partner down.  She was in a different league, a clear 10 minutes faster than me, and would have been up there in the elite race despite having already done the para race earlier in the day.

The course was truly worthy of a European Champs, and claimed a good few competitors who DNF'd.  Team GB put in a great effort, achieving 5 medals overall including a silver for Louise Fox in the elite race... awesome!!!

GBR girls & their medals
So happy to get gold.  I was so close to a medal at the European sprint duathlon champs earlier this year when I punctured.  This one means so much more as it was the inaugural European cross-duathlon champs... road duathlons are fun, but you can't beat the trails  :-)

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