Our first duathlon

By Matthew Rose

Out on the Holme Valley MTB Challenge

Out on the Holme Valley MTB Challenge

Through injury and motivated in the main by the Samsung Hope Relay (where the club collectively covered over 5,000 miles and raised over £5,000 for charity) I experienced my first ride on a road bike in 2012.

I’d used a mountain bike on the trails, to commute to Huddersfield and the occasional MTB challenge but had never tried a road bike.  In June 2012 fellow Harrier, John Field loaned me his bike which was collecting dust in his garage – after one outing I offered it straight back… he told me to hang onto it for now!

One sunny day I decided to give it another go and after a quick whizz around Royd Edge (a beautiful place up above Holmfirth by the wind turbines) – on the right roads, free from potholes I found it actually wasn’t that bad!

A Sunday morning bike outing!

A Sunday morning social outing

I started going out more often, commuting to work covering 10, 15, 20+ miles with relative ease and pace – the motivation to cover the miles and raise money for charity certainly helped and it wasn’t long before I’d got the road cycling bug.  With the Hope Relay as a focal point I began to meet up with other Harriers and friends… it was like a mini explosion of cycling activity and with injury affecting many of us we were all out there every opportunity we could, banging out the miles and raising the pounds!

I started to look for a bike of my own… it was at the time Wiggins was making history and bike stores were in short supply.  I asked around and bought a second hand bike from another Harrier, for my wife Hayley – something I could use in the short-term which would also allow Hayley to get involved.

For the Relay, with the combined effort of Holmfirth Harriers we did it!  We’d covered 5,098 miles and raised the same amount in pounds for Children’s charities mission complete – but is it ever?!

In a moment of madness I stepped over the social line and John Field and I registered to take part in the Firefighters 2UP Duathlon which was to take place in March 2013!  It was a date in a diary for the remainder of the year – we’d both committed to run the Amsterdam Marathon (for John his first!) and the focus for both of us was to try and get to a state where we could safely run a marathon, sadly this was at the expense of cycling (but we did great in the marathon so that’s ok!).

Duathlon Web definitions Duathlon is an athletic event that consists of a running leg, followed by a cycling leg and then another running leg in a format bearing some resemblance to triathlons.

The months passed us by and on the week before the Duathlon both John and I shook the dust off our bikes; I had two nasty punctures so I had to order two new tubes… I was getting anxious given we had a week to go and none of us were sure the bikes were even fit to ride!

Race day

Race day arrived and given it was a 9.30am start and 90 minutes away in Preston – 60/80 minutes prep (like for a running race!)… we decided to leave at 7am.  John drove and I offered to read the ‘bumph’… oops, we need to be registered by 8:45am and have our bikes in transition by 9am; we were short on time.

John stopped dawdling and at 70mph on quiet roads we were making good progress; we needn’t have worried but lessons learnt [you need much more time to prepare than a running race]

Getting wet in transition

Getting wet in transition!

We registered and took our bikes to the transition area and were guided as to what to do by the marshals. Photo time, “you can’t take photos in transition” – have you read the BTF rules? (nope!) [the camera person must stand outside the transition area] . John was then told he couldn’t race… cryptic… he’d lost the bung put of his bar end [bike must be safe] – we bought one off an official for 50p.  We had our carrier bags full of stuff we might need and laid them beside our bikes… we were like ducks out of water!  [plastic box with a lid better than carrier bag].

We were easy to sport proudly sporting our Harrier vests and it wasn’t long before we bumped into the Holmfirth contingent.  We wished each other well and following a briefing by the officials we were invited to join our ‘waves’ for the start and we were off.

The race

This was a 2Up Duathlon and we had to run together (as a pair) and be within 20 metres of each other at all times.  Given it was our first time we set off cautiously and sought reassurance from each other that we were each ok.  The running section was 5.6K, two laps starting on tarmac, on the road, down some steps onto the canal – up some steps (where we had to queue) onto a track, across a playing field and round again.  It was freezing cold and the track was slippy and muddy [a direct line through the mud provided a competitive edge over those dancing around them].  The second lap was tough and we agreed, the first mile of the bike section could provide suitable recovery… we completed the running section in 25:42.

Out on the bike leg

Drafting :)

The bike section next, and after a short rest and quick drink we settled into the race, taking it in turns to lead whilst the other drafted; we could draft each other but no other teams.  Communication was important and we had to support each other and agree the pace and when to overtake so to avoid drafting others.  It was cold and windy and we did a great job cajoling and helping each other around the 30 mile circular course.  With about 8 miles to go Jason/Simon went flying past us… brilliant, at that speed there was little we could do.

We were aiming to complete the cycle section in the hour and were both delighted when we did.  We headed into transition and got ready for the final running section (bike + T2 was 1:01:32).

On television we see the elite in transition, this was comical – our stuff was wet, our legs were shot – I slipped my trainers on and John set to tie his [elastic laces better]. We noticed Jason and Simon from Holmfirth leaving transition and John and I agreed they were our target now.

John with a mile to go
Matthew - one mile to go

One mile to go!

Our legs were like jelly… 30 hard miles at pace on the bike and then to run on them… We did what we could and were just behind two female runners who we’d overtaken on the bike section who had beaten us out of transition… we hung onto them until we got onto the canal when I … had to stop and retie my laces that were loose [elastic laces or retie wet shoes]!  They were now a good 100 metres in front but still we targeted them.  It was on the second lap when we got sight of Jason and Simon… we were still making good progress and as we hit the canal for the second time we overtook them (banter!).  They had started in the wave behind so we knew we had to beat them by at least one minute… the race wasn’t over yet!

We both worked extremely hard over the final mile, we overtook our markers and kept on pushing, along the trail across the fields and over the finish line (our time for the final running section was 27:57) - We’d done it!

We were both delighted with our performance, how we had worked together and for me it reminded me of that special moment I’d run my first marathon in 2008 – an emotional and special moment that I’ll always remember.

When the results were published it was confirmed we’d beaten our ‘temporary rivals’ :-)

What next? Well for me I’m doing Berlin Marathon in September 2013 so that has to be my focus.  I’d definitely do it again and the 2UP (with a friend) is a great way to do it.   I may even at some stage look towards the Triathlon.

Final thoughts

mr after


For me, the multi-sport event is something I knew little about and had no interest.  Injury and the relay introduced me to road cycling and as a result of that I’ve experienced another side of the club, different, supportive and friendly people and different sporting activities.

We were a little naive but everybody was helpful and it was a brilliant morning; we learnt a lot!

 If you would like to find out more about multi-sport events there’s further information in the Triathlon section – you might also want to speak to any of the coaches or officials on a club night.


Phillip Wilson [Run1] 20.13 [Bike+T1] 48.59 [Run2] 21.4 [Total] 1.30.52
Jonny Mclean [Run1] 20.11 [Bike+T1] 49.05 [Run2] 21.35 [Total] 1.30.53
Garreth Humphries [Run1] 23.14 [Bike+T1] 57.35 [Run2] 25.1 [Total] 1.45.59
Angus Greenwood [Run1] 20.55 [Bike+T1] [Run2] 25.05 [Total] 1.46.00
Jon Hoyle [Run1] 25.02 [Bike+T1] 1.03.00 [Run2] 26.44 [Total] 1.54.47
Chris Williamson [Run1] 25.01 [Bike+T1] 1.02.48 [Run2] 26.57 [Total] 1.54.47
Matthew Rose [Run1] 25.42 [Bike+T1] 1.01.32 [Run2] 27.57 [Total] 1.55.12
John Field [Run1] 25.43 [Bike+T1] 1.01.30 [Run2] 27.59 [Total] 1.55.13
Jason Haigh [Run1] 29.14 [Bike+T1] 55.26 [Run2] 31.1 [Total] 1.55.51
Simon Farrow [Run1] 29.15 [Bike+T1] 55.24 [Run2] 31.12 [Total] 1.55.52
Jeremy Hoyle [Run1] 31.42 [Bike+T1] 1.10.12 [Run2] 43.57 [Total] 2.25.52
Joshua Hoyle [Run1] 31.39 [Bike+T1] 1.10.17 [Run2] 43.55 [Total] 2.25.53

Pre-2012 news, results & reports are on the old sites: 2009 to 2011, Pre-2009

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