Triathlon Plus - - Duathlon -

he first thing to know is that duathlon is a sport in its own right, rather than just a handy ad­di­tion to the triathlon cal­en­dar. It has its own Na­tional, Euro­pean and World Cham­pi­onship events for sprint, stan­dard and long-dis­tances. Each coun­try has it's own qual­i­fy­ing events and you can com­pete in all of them as an am­a­teur ath­lete, with bronze, sil­ver and gold medals for the win­ners of ev­ery five year age-group­ing. That in­cludes ju­niors all the way to 80 plus years. If you fancy rep­re­sent­ing your coun­try, this might be one of your best routes in. You can find more in­for­ma­tion about age-group teams at british­triathlon.org.

Bear­ing all that in mind, you could po­ten­tially avoid triathlons al­to­gether and be­come a duath­lete, es­pe­cially if you re­ally dis­like swim­ming. This works well for a lot of peo­ple, par­tic­u­larly those who want to be as com­pet­i­tive as pos­si­ble from lim­ited train­ing time. Cut­ting out swim­ming also cuts out the time you waste trav­el­ling to the pool and back, so you can spend that ex­tra time rid­ing or run­ning.

Per­haps the only down­side of duathlons com­pared to triathlons is that they are most com­monly held in spring and au­tumn, rather than all through the sum­mer. That said, if you look hard enough you can find races all year round, in­clud­ing dur­ing the win­ter months. As well as a va­ri­ety of dis­tances there are also sev­eral duathlon types to choose from. First up, you get race-track duathlons. These events are held at venues like Sil­ver­stone, Thrux­ton, Good­wood and Cas­tle Combe. They are all pri­mar­ily mo­tor rac­ing cir­cuits, but they make for ex­cel­lent duathlon lo­ca­tions. The thrill of these events is that ev­ery­one starts to­gether so you re­ally feel like you're in a race. You can see things un­fold­ing in front of your eyes and it mo­ti­vates you to push your­self harder than ever.

In ad­di­tion to race tracks, duathlons are held on pub­lic roads. Of­ten the run sec­tion is held in a coun­try park or round a lake, while the cy­cle is on scenic coun­try lanes. These events have a dif­fer­ent feel, be­cause you can't see all the other com­peti­tors at once, but they do of­fer a greater vari­a­tion of ter­rain and scenery. And at least you won't need to count your laps like you do at a race track.

If you're look­ing for some­thing a bit dif­fer­ent you can also find off-road duathlons. These in­volve run­ning off-road and rid­ing a moun­tain bike over a va­ri­ety of dis­tances. They are harder than you'd think, but great fun too. A good ex­am­ple is the Remp­stone Roast off-road duathlon se­ries held on Dorset's beau­ti­ful Juras­sic Coast, or­gan­ised by re­sult­s­triathlon.co.uk.

Which­ever duathlon type and dis­tance you choose, our ad­vice is to dip your toe in gen­tly. Do a few events over shorter dis­tances be­fore you start get­ting too com­pet­i­tive. Over the next few pages, we'll point you in the right di­rec­tion when it comes to train­ing and rac­ing.

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