International success for Nik Vogan – Pontevedra World Duathlon Championships 2014

Pontevedra World Duathlon Championships 2014
report by Nik Vogan

Those of you who know me well know that I love my bike even more than my running shoes – a strange admission on a running club website but hopefully you’ll see where I’m going – and in September 2013 I watched one of my old university team mates win the World Triathlon Championships and it made me think.. I knew Non and knew that whilst she is an amazing athlete, she is also a normal person and it got me wondering what I could achieve if I took my training a little more seriously and put some effort in.

In March, I raced a sprint duathlon, which is a 5k run, followed by a 10k bike and then another run, which qualified me for the age-group world championships in Pontevedra, Spain.

After lots of training and finally some tapering I arrived in Spain. I enjoyed playing ‘spot the duathlete’ as we wandered around town and the expensive bikes on display told me how seriously people were taking this.

I was out-biked by almost everyone there but kept telling myself it wasn’t about the bike and I enjoyed the bike recce on the Friday and getting to know some of the other team members. It was also good to finally find out that the ‘mountain’ on the bike course was little more than a big mole hill to my Yorkshire legs.

The main problem in Spain is that the spanish don’t seem to eat main meals – I could get cheese and ham toasties everywhere but finding something to carbo load on was more difficult. I was beginning to wish I had taken a leaf out of Stef’s book and brought my own camping stove. Fortunately, Rich Tarrega who selflessly agreed to a long weekend in Spain and came with me, speaks spanish and so alongside his role of personal bike mechanic, translator and chauffer he was also appointed as chief nutritionalist and found us a cafe which made the biggest pasta salad known to man.

Eventually after race briefings, equipment checks and plenty of admiring myself in GB team kit I was ready to go.

The horn sounded to start the ladies race and I immediately went splat! The lady behind me obviously thought I was going to be slow and gave me a shove of encouragement. As one of the more clumsy members of the harriers, I found myself on the floor and kindly left my hand out for someone to stand on and make my little finger pop out of place (don’t worry – I got it back in at 2k!).

Right, the race was really on now I thought and set off on the 5k run. It was slightly undulating and through the lovely old town although I didn’t get chance to take in the sights. I ran it very close to pb pace and then had the challenge of coming into transition and finding my bike in the sea of 2,000 bikes.

Once on my bike, I knew I had to really go for it – my biking is a lot stronger than my running in a duathlon and I knew I needed to put the effort in here to give myself a good chance. The bike course couldn’t have been better for me with a 10k climb to start with and I began to pick lots of people off. I lost a few places on the decent but didn’t touch my brakes and came into the second transition in a good place.

I was worried about finding my trainers again but fortunately I have big feet so spotted them a mile off and quickly racked my bike and set off on the 2.5k run for home. I don’t normally race over 2.5k and my legs took a little while to get up to speed but then I was back in the stadium and heading to the finish before I knew it. After a quick look over my shoulder I ran over the finish line with a smile on my face.

Overall I came 6th in my age group but I was more pleased to come away from the race happy in knowing that I couldn’t have done anymore. It was a great experience to be a part of the most sucessful duathlon team in history and I loved my day of wearing team GB kit.

A big thank you to all the harriers who sent me good luck messages, to Stef my (self-appointed) sports psychologist and to Ben and Adrian who I chased around the Yorkshire roads this winter which helped my cycling no end!

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