by Judith Harper
Review Made: 10.11.2014
Race Report: Evil Sheriff Off- Road Duathlon, Sherwood Forest, Nottinghamshire
Splits: 1st run 0:31:40; T1 + Bike 01:36:00; T2 – 0:02:15; 2nd run 13:03:15. Total time 2:33:15
First man – 01:17:42 First lady – 01:33:06
When Keith Edwards asked if anyone wanted to join him at the Midlands cross Duathlon series I had to look it up, and saw that Evil Sheriff was on the one weekend Alex, my son, wasn't cycle racing, and it sounded like fun! So I duly put in my entry. With my first triathlon only 19 months ago I had done virtually no off-road running and no mountain biking (unless you count hiring a bike in Scotland 20 Years ago!) and persuaded my son to loan me his cyclocross bike – and shoes. I began to get nervous when I realised that of the 3 series races I had chosen the longest and most difficult race, which was also the National Cross Duathlon championships: 5k run; 20k mountain bike; 3.6k run.
So Saturday 8th November arrived cold, bright and damp. I arrived in good time at Sherwood Pines Forest Centre, sole representative of Rugby Tri club with my son as support. I registered then got ready; leggings on although some people were in shorts. I decided to wear my waterproof jacket as the weather was showery.
10.30am start time for women and the men over 50, a mass start of more than 100 people. It began raining as I put my bike in transition and headed to the start line. At this point I realised I hadn't put my timing chip on and with 7 minutes to Start I sent Alex to run back to the van where I had left it in my coat pocket. 2 minutes to Start and I was panicking; the marshal was helpful and said I could start without the chip and pick it up in transition, so some 30 secs after the hooter I set off, last out and a good 50m behind the back runners. Not a good start.
I started quite fast to catch up and soon overtook half a dozen people, after which I settled to a steady pace. The route was a firm sandy wide trail, soft in places and some running water plus gentle hills. I was feeling confident after passing another 2 runners and coming into transition after 31 mins; the marshal gave me my time and said my son had not appeared with my timing chip. Further worry, but what could I do but carry on.
Nearly forgot I couldn't mount the bike until after transition but pedalled off and the going was good I felt quite fast speeding down the open trail in top gear. Passed 3 cyclists when I had space by going onto the trail-side leaves, then headed off into the trees and softer ground having to get used to the sensation of sliding tyres. Slower going but OK; and the first rather scary downhill; brakes screeching with the mud and grit, I had a choice of steep gradient terminating with 'taking off' on the humps or the more technical zig-zags. Then a sharp bend and uphill. Had to get off and push due to the person in front walking. Casualty at the top of the hill - lady had fallen off and was hurt but marshal attending. I remounted and continued. Rain was now steady and conditions unpleasant, but a little more protected in the trees. My legs were already mud-splattered. I had no watch, computer or any idea of the time; so was feeling anxious with no idea how much further to go, and beginning to wish I only had to do one lap! Wiggled through the next narrow section I slowed too much, landing in the bracken. Quite muddy by now met I a 10 foot wide puddle - no choice but to go through; tidal wave and both shoes filled with water. At this point I was lapped by a couple of fast cyclists shortly before starting the second lap. Just wanted to get finished now, but more of the same. Determined to ride the uphill I failed first time but slithered off at the first bend. Marshal said I was the 20th to come off there! Followed no.335 for some distance talking to himself and his bike and passed him eventually but he later overtook me back in the woods again. Determined to stay on this time I took the bend too wide, missed a tree stump, ground to a halt and toppled into the liquid mud on the path. Things couldn't get any worse. Last section was rather lonely; not a person in sight, cold, wet through and miserable and with no one else in sight, wondering if I was going to get lost in the woods. But then I saw a small familiar figure - Alex with my timing chip, so I stopped, and put it on, cheered up as this was an improvement. Next I was hampered by trying to get through loads of kids on the 2k family race that had just started, but was soon back in transition for final run.
Trouble putting on my wet running shoes with soggy socks and gloves. Bottom was as wet as if I had just done the swim leg of triathlon. Legs wouldn't work properly as cold and toes numb. Last run with more energy once I got going; running less uncomfortable than walking. Much less eventful than the cycle ride. I chatted to other runners as I passed and felt gratified to see someone still on the bike lap. But my brain was going as I came to the finish as I didn't know where to go and was confused by spectators waving me on! Slight sprint across the finish line after 2 ½ hours (approx) and my only feeling was relief. Legs and shoulders aching by now and just wanted to have good cry.
I collected my finishers T-shirt and Alex greeted me looking wet too. Discovered there were no showers so had to strip and towel-down in the van, while Alex cleaned the bike, then to the cafe for a welcome hot chocolate for both of us – with cream and marshmallows - before the 1 ½ hour drive home.
- Final position 313, and out of 60 female starters I came 5th in age group. One person disqualified for littering!
Did I enjoy it? If the weather had been dry, it would have been lovely. Would I do it again? Well it couldn't be worse so probably yes. No sympathy from the husband as the misery was self-inflicted, and even Alex who does cyclocross in all weathers said I was mad. Overall view: character-building.
||well run, marshalls very helpful
||run trails quite easy; bike course tough
||Beautiful location, good facilities. NO SHOWERS
|Value For Money: