On 26th October, fifteen of Edinburgh’s finest triathletes ventured to the Kingdom of Fife for the Autumn Duathlon put on by St Andrews University Triathlon Club. The first challenge of the day was a game of bicycle jenga, with President Louise and Secretary Yvonne displaying excellent physical and mental skill to squeeze all of our bikes into the van. The journey north was also not without difficulties – high winds closed the Forth Road Bridge to us and meant we had to take the “scenic route” to the hometown of golf and royal romance.
After arriving at the University sports pitches and unloading/reassembling bikes, we picked up timing chips and race numbers, and deposited bikes in the transition area. It was then time to get changed and decide on the optimal number of layers for the rather cold and windy race ahead of us. Coach Linda briefed us on riding technique for the strong winds and walked through the transition process for those of us less familiar with racing. After a little more chilly and nervous waiting, we lined up at the starting line, ready to take on the 5k run, 20k cycle and 2.5k run.
We were set off by the enthusiastic and fluorescent-clad race organiser of StAUTri, with the athletes quickly spreading out as the first couple of corners of the sports pitches were rounded. Social Sec Harriet and I paced ourselves for the first part of the race, but could see our EUTri team-mates both in positions of contention and putting in solid first legs throughout the field. We completed two laps of the uni sports pitches, which was a very flat route, but made interesting by the incredibly strong winds that battered us from different directions at each turn. It was great to have Linda and Louise cheering us on and flying the flag (the brand new shiny “Mon the EUTri” banner!) for all the EUTri racers.
Next, it was onto the cycling leg of the race, passing through the transition area and attempting to quickly put on helmets etc. (fastening my helmet has never been so tricky!). I was a bit disorientated getting out and onto my bike, but was soon off onto the backroads of the Fife countryside. I felt really great getting onto the bike, and the first few miles went past very quickly. It was very satisfying to overtake quite a few people along the way! However, the hills and headwind soon scuppered my rhythm. With crosswinds and gusts of up to 55mph to contend with, there was definitely an extra element of challenge added to the race! After turning to head back towards St Andrews, there was a lot of well-earned downhill, which everyone seemed very glad to see.
Going back through transition, I saw that a fair number of athletes had already completed the race and were enjoying their post-run bananas, including some of our very own EUTri-ers. All that was left for me was a simple final running lap of the playing fields! The notorious bike-to-run transition was rather painful, and it took me a few minutes to re-find my land legs. However, it was a great feeling to summon up the last of my energy to power through to the finish. We were all rewarded with a luminous finishers’ t-shirt and some snacks at the finish line, but the real prize was a slice of Louise’s delicious homemade flapjack.
There were fantastic performances all round from the club, with Paul Kerr storming home to finish first junior male, and third overall. Conor Crilly also excelled, coming in as third junior male and ninth overall. Our first EUTri lady over the line was Allison Stewart. I was really pleased with my own performance, managing to get a PB (totally counts if it’s your first duathlon, right?!). It was a great race with a friendly atmosphere, and demonstrated that even bike transport challenges, road diversions and high winds can’t stop the mighty EUTri.