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Mumbles Duathlon

Well what fun that was. My first and certainly not last duathlon and in my home region as well. If you're not familiar with a duathlon it's similar to a triathlon with an extra run instead of the swim. In this case it was a 5km run, followed by 32 km cycle and finishing with a 5 km run.

The morning started badly when I was loading the bike into the car only to discover it had a flat front tyre. It was 06:30, we needed to be in The Mumbles by 07:00, so there was no time to effect a repair; I'd have to do it at the start.

We arrived at 07:00 and I began the job of replacing the inner tube. There was no pressure, I had 45 minutes before access to the transition area, where the bikes are stored, closed. Miss that and you're out of the event. Happily I was done with 20 minutes to spare.

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Mumbles is a great event as it promotes itself as an ideal first time event, and indeed it was. There were friendly and informative briefings for first timers as to what happens and should not happen in the transition zone and out on the cycle route.

About 400 people started, some doing a slightly shorter distance, and myself and others doing the 42km course. The first run is flat and easy along the sea front. For me it was about running a sensible pace as there was a long way to go.

The bike was the bit I was unsure of as I live in a flat region of Britain and this course had some proper hills along it. I mostly needn't have worried. The hills were manageable and the descents were such fun, and you can rest your legs to boot. There was one brute of a hill which everyone was worried about. It was a single track road, which is first gear in a car (17% if that means anything to you). Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately, a driver had ignored signs stating the road was closed and had driven down thus blocking the way. Cyclists were forced to dismount and once off the bike there was no chance of trying to start up again. I pushed my bike up and truth be told I was quite relieved as Lunnon Hill is insanely steep.

The rest of the cycle route is just lovely bar the final hill climb which was painful to say the least. I've never felt muscle burn like that before.

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Coming out of transition for the second time, 'running off the bike' as it's known, is weird and unpleasant. I couldn't feel my feet for about half a mile, and it's strange to start a run with legs that feel like the end of a run. Anyway, 5 km is a distance that I personally know is manageable in almost any circumstance. The finish is great, a red carpet approach and large red arch, plus lots of noisy support. I guess I finished somewhere in the bottom third but was happy with my over all time of 2 hours 15 mins. Clearly being a good cyclist helps with your time but it doesn't really matter. Duathlon, far more than running, is an event for all shapes, sizes, age and gender as the bike section is a great leveller.

As you'll note from the images I was proudly wearing the Motor Neurone Disease Association cycle vest, but I'm also raising money for Alzheimer's Research UK. As many will be aware Christine and I fund raise for both charities in honour of Christine's mum, who passed away in 2006 due to MND, while my father is suffering the advanced stages of Alzheimer's. This event is also dedicated to David Solomon who we got to know over the last 12 months but sadly succumbed to MND in February.

OK, I've got to go out for an 18 mile run now. Sometimes I hate training for a marathon.

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