PACTRAC Duathlon: My Journey By Wendette Christian

Over the years, I have regularly taken part in several charity events; from running 10K's to walking 40 miles for various charities such as Race 4 Life and ABF The Soldiers' charity. This year, after great thought, I decided to take part in a new and exciting challenge.

A Duathlon.

This involved the task of running 4 miles, biking 18 miles and running a further 2.5miles, which may not sound like much of a but (when you hate biking) believe me it is. Now the big question was, who was I going to convince to join me on this challenge? With a surprisingly minimal amount of persuasion, Sadie Boor chose to join me in this difficult yet worthwhile event.

As I usually fundraise for larger organisations, I started looking into local charities. Luckily, Werrington Joggers (WJ) sent out an email of their chosen charity (NGNPUK) for the year, which I looked into and came to the conclusion that it would be perfect.

From our first day out training, I knew this was going to be difficult for me as I had not ridden a bike for over two years and to make matters worse I was trying to bike 18miles and up Castor’s Love’s Hill on a mountain bike, which would be far less loving than the name may suggest.

Fortunately, Sadie spoke to the lovely Derek Smith who lent me a proper road bike. So, now I just needed to build my confidence, not just on the road on a light weight bike but changing gears, climbing hills and using  Yes…I do have some muscle.

Race Day Six weeks later; race day had arrived and the event was held locally in Castor, hosted by PACTRAC triathlon club. To say I was nervous was an understatement. I felt sick with nerves, tearful as I was driving and I could not understand why. The concept of taking on something new, with rules beyond running when the gun goes off and completing the intended miles, was something I had never experienced before.

Once I arrived in Castor, Sadie was already there, checked in and ready to go. Despite me being on the opposite end of this spectrum, I suppose this alleviated my anxiety. She kindly escorted me to registration that was very easy, helped me with the sticker for my bike and helmet and where to hook my bike for transition.

My initial thought looking around was what am I doing here? This looks like an event for professional athletes with well fit athletic bodies, most of them already motoring up and down “Love Hill” as a warm up and there I was conserving every last bit of energy to make sure I could make it round.

As the gun went off, the Race started outside the old Restaurant, opposite the village hall at exactly 9am with the professionals leading the way. The plan was to do 10-minute miles but we all know how it is when we get caught up in the moment and off I went like I had rocket fuel. We ran up Peterborough road,took a left onto Water lane up to the top of the hill turned around then a left to Love’s Hill.

Although it was a short hill, it was a steep one to say the least, but I somehow made it up; legs burning and heart on fire with a determination to reach the top. Once I reached the summit, I carried on to the all too familiar route of Peterborough road towards Ferry Meadows, which after I needed to remember the important golden rule. Put on your helmet before touching your bike.

This was a seemingly simple instruction, yet in the heat of the race was an easily forgotten one, but luckily not by me. Pedalling with every ounce of my energy, I was back for a rematch with Love Hill, defeating it a second time, until I appeared to be biking on my own, other than when the marshals would show me the way.

Returning to Peterborough road, I felt a great relief to be back into civilisation and realising the race was still on, although my legs felt as though they may fall off. Dismounting my bike and removing my helmet, I left my biking portion behind and started to steadily run towards the finish; my running feeling more like I was walking although spectators may say otherwise.

Faced with Love Hill for the third and final time, I was almost defeated as the numbness of my legs from the cold air seemed to freeze my strides, until my own body urged me on. I did not have far to go. I was able to keep my place, finishing in a quicker time than I had anticipated of 23 minutes and 33 seconds and later found that my training partner Sadie had finished third female of the entire race.

All in all, it was a challenging yet incredibly rewarding day, in which I managed to achieve my goals in

  1. Not coming last.
  2. 2. Finishing and
  3. 3. Raising £1400 for NGNPUK.

However, I would not have been able to accomplish this without the wonderful support of my family, friends, work colleagues at Royal Mail, sponsors from Werrington Joggers and all of those that donated. Thank you to you all and to the organisers of this great event. I’m looking forward to facing the challenge again next year.

Will you?