Students represent ARU in Duathlon for the first time ever!
Anglia Ruskin’s ever expanding sports programme has now branched out into the sport of Triathlon, a sport that in recent years has grown immensely in popularity due in part to the success of World and Olympic Champions, the Brownlee brothers and Chrissie Wellington. Over the summer two former ARU rowers, Sam de Kooker and Dan Lawson, swapped their rowing ‘all-in-ones’ for the ever so similar ‘tri-suits’, competing in Triathlons and Duathlons in Ely and the Isle of Guernsey.
Most recently the duo took up the challenge of representing ARU at the Chilham Castle Duathlon in Kent, The ‘standard distance’ (10km run – 40km bike – 5km run) event promised competitive racing, beautiful scenery and a fast course. The event definitely delivered on the first part, but forgot to mention the horrendous weather, mud bath off road run, undulating course and sideways rain! Shall we say Mother Nature was not feeling too kind at 8.15am on Sunday 21st October.
Conditions were less than ideal for fast times as the run through the scenic grounds of Chillham Castle became ankle deep in mud and the bike course wind swept with rain. Undeterred, the duo lined up on the start line knowing fast times had gone out of the window, but competitive racing was definitely on the cards. The first 2km of the run was extremely challenging due to the heavy mud, but both athletes were in the middle of the pack for the first of two laps of the 5km circuit. The undulating course proved tricky for all runners, with many seen falling over or losing trainers in the mud. As ever though the camaraderie of triathletes means you stop to help your fellow competitors, and on several occasions competitors were seen helping each other up after falls. At the end of the first lap both athletes were holding their own in the middle of the pack with Sam de Kooker about 30 seconds ahead of Dan Lawson. Both continued their strong runs for the second lap with pretty much the same time gap coming into transition.
Trainers were swapped for bike shoes and helmets donned for the challenging 40km bike course. The bike is a much stronger discipline for Sam and he soon started moving through the pack. Dan competing on his newly acquired ‘Tri-Bike’ set off at a strong steady pace not far behind Sam. Driving wind and rain made the course both slow and treacherous in places. By around 32km into the bike, Sam had moved himself into 3rd position for his age category, with Dan holding station in 5th place in the same category. Good finishing positions were on the cards for both athletes, until disaster struck – Sam puncturing his back wheel on a downhill section. Having not brought a spare inner tube with him, Sam had resigned himself to having to retire from the race and face the long cold walk back to the finish line. However, after a few minutes Sam’s fellow ARU competitor came past and kindly gave him a spare tube and kit to change his back wheel, which Dan was carrying with him. Dan could have easily carried on and not lost time, but in the true spirit of Triathlon’s – helped his fellow man. After a few minutes Sam managed to repair his back wheel, but had lost a large chunk of time, dropping him to 7th in his category by the time he made transition at the end of the bike. Dan continued his strong cycle and came into transition in 5th place.
Dan ‘Mr Consistent’ Lawson continued in this vain to the end of the final 5km run and held his position all the way to finish a credible 5th overall in the category. Sam’s bad luck continued when he twisted his knee only a few hundred metres into the 5km run trying to make up time on the athletes in front. Eventually Sam hobbled into the finish in 8th place in the category. Mud clad and in desperate need of a shower, both athletes knew they’d been in a tough race, but had a real sense of achievement.
Next on the horizon is the BUCS Duathlon Championships in Castle Combe, Wiltshire. ARU will not only be represented by Sam and Dan, but also in the female category by Jenny Keeping. Jenny had some very promising results over the summer and had a strong finish in the Virgin London Triathlon. The BUCS Duathlon is a super sprint distance; 2mile run-10mile bike-2mile run. All three athletes are now in training for the event at the end of November. Looking further forward in April is the BUCS Super Sprint Triathlon, and in May the biggest event of all the BUCS Olympic Distance Triathlon. Between now and then the trio will be training and competing in events in the lead up to the first ever ARU representation at BUCS in the event.
If you’re interested in finding out more about taking up Triathlon, please contact Sam de Kooker – firstname.lastname@example.org