British Elite Duathlon Championships, Bedford Autodrome

On Sunday 7 April 2019 four members of Holmfirth Harriers AC took part in the British Elite Duathlon Championships at the Bedford Autodrome. The weather was misty and very cloudy, with a cool breeze but fortunately, the race circuit was dry otherwise it would have been quite slippery with rubber and oil residues from racing cars.

The Elite men started at 12 noon, with four-time winner Mark Buckingham leading the Holmfirth challenge alongside Lewis Byram and Fionn Kerry racing as a Junior. The course consisted of two run laps (5kms) followed by four bike laps (20kms) and a further two run laps (5kms), with the Junior Men doing only one final lap (2.5kms). Mark and training partner, Gordon Benson moved into the lead with a group of six men, followed closely by a larger group including Lewis Byram and Fionn Kerry a little further back. Buckingham and Benson were first to reach transition completing the 5km run in 14.45 and after a quick transition got on to the bike course first with four athletes in close pursuit. Lewis Byram completed the run course in 15.06 but managed to get amongst a group of four to share the workload on the bike. Fionn Kerry was a minute down on club mate Byram finishing the run in 16.07, but there were only a couple of athletes nearby as he went on to the bike course. Unfortunately, Fionn had a mechanical problem and had to stop on the first lap, which resulted in him losing time and having to ride alone for the whole 20kms.

Buckingham and Benson managed to break-away from the leaders on lap three of the bike course and went into T2 with a lead of 18 seconds recording the fastest bike times of 27.23 before tackling the final 5km run. Chris Perham of Loughborough broke away from the chasing group of four runners and caught Buckingham and Benson at the start of the last lap. He managed to overtake both runners winning the race with the fastest run split of 16.02 and a total time of 59.15. Buckingham suffering with an injury problem finished the run in 16.37, clinching the silver medal 18 seconds behind in 59.33 and Benson completed the podium in 59.49. Lewis Byram performed well throughout the race completing the second run in 17.31 and finishing 9th in 1.01.02. Fionn Kerry, hampered by the problem on the bike leg had just one lap on the final run to catch anyone, he completed the run in 9.15 and claimed 14th place with a time of 57.44.

The Elite ladies started their race at 1.15pm. Erica Byram aged 19 years was one of the youngest athletes in the field but showed great maturity, settling into a sensible pace on the first 5km run. There were some quick ladies who moved into the lead with Claudia Kelsall recording the fastest time of 17.11, followed closely by Olivia Matthews in 17.15 and Erica 4th to reach T2 in 17.41. Matthews soon went past Kelsall and Erica found herself with Kelsall facing the dilemma of riding solo as she was much stronger on the bike. A chasing group eventually caught the two girls and a group of six worked together to try and reduce the deficit on Olivia Matthews who rode well on her own. Matthews arrived in T2 with a comfortable lead recording a time of 31.16. Erica Byram led the chasing group with a time of 31.30 and moved into 2nd place on the first lap of the final run. Matthews won the race with a run time of 19.25 and an overall time of 1.08.47. Claudia Kelsall of Bath University managed to catch Erica on the second lap recording the 2nd fastest run time of 19.41 and clinching the silver medal with a total time of 1.10.08 and Erica finished a well-deserved 3rd place in 1.10.17 with a run time 20.08.