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WaldenTRI’s Merry Men battle at The Evil Sheriff, 2014 TE National Cross Duathlon Championships

At 43 years old, seven (4 + 3) seems to be my number… After racing on-road in October (see WTtransition Issue 403) and finishing 7th at the British Age-Group Standard (on-road) Duathlon Championships on 12th October, I was curious to see if I could translate that fitness and form with the mud.

Saturday 7th November saw the 2014 Triathlon England Cross Duathlon Championships held at Sherwood Pines, Nottingham, as part of the One Step Beyond organised Evil Sheriff Off Road Duathlon. It was a fantastic event, attracting well over 300 athletes to a challenging, fair and very well marked course in the beautiful Sherwood Forest. The event was a combination of two cross country runs (5 and 3km) and Mountain Bike (2 laps of 10km).

In order to battle the Evil Sheriff, the WaldenTRI’s Merry Men Charlie Passfield, Craig Dyce and I, opted to arrive the night before. A huge thanks to Mike Passfield for offering to take us to the event with his motorhome. We left Great Chesterford on Friday around 8pm and arrived at 10pm on a camp site just 15 minutes from the event venue. No need to drive at silly hours in the morning, great! However, we had to wake up early in order to have our breakfast a couple of hours before the event starting at 8am. We woke up at 5.30am and all opted for a different breakfast. In case you are interested, Charlie had some porridge, Craig had some rice krispies (a light breakfast), and I went for a more French version: 2 slices of brioche and some cereals with yogurt. We left the camp site at 6.45am and arrived at the Sherwood Forest at 7am.

Only one hour left; pressure and doubt inevitably arise (well at least for me). I don’t know the bike course and I wonder if I have made the right choice for the tyres (knobbly ones). Quite a chilly morning and we are now heading down to the race HQ for registration; Craig realises that he doesn’t have any proof of ID. Luckily, he just have to give the phone number of his emergency contact person. At 7.30am, set up in transition is done and after the usual running over the entrance and exit routes, it is time to start warming up.

After a very short briefing, wave 1 (youngsters up to male 40-49) is heading to the start. The countdown was on. The 3 of us are on the start line. The horn sounds and off we go.

We were all strong on the runs but Charlie was very strong on the bike too. Charlie lead the way with 11th overall and collected a trophy for a first in the under 20 category! Also a special mention to Craig for riding a 29er MTB (Thanks to Mark Frazer for lending his almost brand new Giant bike) for the first time and for finishing 7th in the 45-49 age-group. I finished 9th in the 40-44 age-group. Craig and I clearly need to do more cycling...

So now, is seven really my number? According to the BTF and ITU rule books, cross duathlon consists of mountain biking and cross-country running. Hence, to be eligible for a Triathlon England standing you must ride a mountain bike and not a cyclo-cross bike. The final verdict from BTF is that I finished 7th in the 40-44 age-group at the National Off-road Championships!

The race known as the Evil Sheriff certainly proved to be a muddy and challenging course but it was nothing compared to the technical and very tough 2014 Walden Off-road Duathlon.

Great video from Triathlon England: ow.ly/E7nyL