Feels like forever since I ran a race thanks to Covid so I jumped when I had the opportunity to team up for this race. The race consists of a 2 mile running leg, 18 miles on the bike, and another 2 mile running leg. One of my RBs (J) who cycles frequently was interested in teaming up for the race so I was glad to take the running legs. The duathlon is a fund raiser for the group that maintains the Byway. Three other RBs from my LRG were there to volunteer so there were familiar faces around.
The race was scheduled to start at 8:30 AM Sunday. I arrived around 7:45 and met J in one of the parking areas The temp was 50 degrees with a chilly wind - much different from the 70+ degree temps over the past 2 weeks, but good for running. We set up in the transition and I ran a few miles to warm up. J is into the local Tri scene and thought we had a good chance to win the teams division. Our optimism didn't last. We saw a local cycling club who calls themselves the Dutch Flyers had sent a team to the race. They're fast. Very fast, just as the name implies. J pointed out our competition. He recognized their cyclist from some Triathlons and knew him to be very fast. There was no way J was going to beat him so I would have to beat their runner to give J a head start on the bike.
After a briefing on traffic, road hazards, and transitions it was time to line up. It was so nice to line up with a group of runners again. Around 100 runners were lined up. Soon the horn sounded and off we went. My prerace strategy was to hold back a little on the first leg to save something for the second leg. That strategy wasn't going to work if we were going to beat the Dutch Flyers, so I went out hard. The running route was an out and back with some rolling terrain. 7:15, 7:14. So much for holding back. Apparently our competition didn't send a fast runner because I beat him soundly to give J a 3 minute head start on the bike. We made the transition and J started the cycling leg. J figured he would need around 55 minutes to cover 18 miles on a hilly course. I watched other runners come in and make their transition. It's impressive to see runners who can jump on the bike after running and continue to crush it.
After 40 minutes or so I started warming up again with some easy running and mixed in some pickups. Cyclists started arriving back to the transition area so I waited near the timing mat for J. The transition area wasn't policed. The Dutch Flyer rider crossed the mat. Like clockwork, his daughter was right there to peel the Velcro chip strap off his leg and hand it to their runner. All I could think was really, did that just happen? J wasn't kidding when he said the Dutch Flyer rider was fast. J had a 3 minute head start and averaged 19.5 MPH on a hilly, windy course, but this guy caught him and proceeded to finish 1 minute before J. I could do nothing but stand there and watch their runner go as the rider and his daughter laughed thinking they had us now. After that 1 minute which felt like an eternity J pulled in. The 2 of us and our cold sluggish fingers took forever to peel off the Velcro chip strap. As soon as it was in my hand I took off running hoping I could chase down the runner who now had a head start with only 2 miles in this leg.
The fast first leg definitely took something out of me. I pushed to the point just before gasping starts. Finally, just before the turn around I came over an incline and saw him about 100 yards in front of me. It was going to take a while to catch him. I hit the turn around just after my watch showed 7:25 for the first mile. I started back on the uphill hoping the incline would slow him down and tried to step on the gas. The incline must have slowed him because I caught him quickly and passed. I knew I had to put some distance between him so I dug deep and tried to draw on anything I had left. The last .5 seemed so long, but soon enough I crossed the finish line with the Dutch Flyer runner still behind me. The other RBs from my LRG were there and were cheering as I finished. 7:20.
Crushed it. Beat those Dutch Flyers. Stick to the bike my friends or come bigger.
The post race food was provided by 99 Restaurants and was good. I really enjoyed this experience. Not sure if I enjoyed it enough to dust off my bike, but would definitely do the team thing again. I'd like to find another race before Rehoboth. Forgot how much I'd missed the racing scene. Run well my friends.