Helwith Bridge Duathlon, Sunday 13th October

Helwith Bridge is a low key road event run by Vince Ashton of VLA events. It’s a classic run-bike-run format in the Yorkshire dales, with some moderately tough hills.

This year’s weather was challenging; 9 degrees combined with a stiff breeze makes kit choice difficult and I opted to put an extra layer on for the bike instead of trying to stick to one outfit for the whole race. The first run is always hard to pace; it’s only 4 miles and in previous years I’ve gone out too fast then regretted it on the bike leg. This year I went far too slow and took an extra two minutes!

The bike leg was tough; a strong head wind made the stretch from Helwith Bridge up to the viaduct at Ribblehead seem endless then a fast and furious return in the direction of Ingleton precedes another winding stretch through Clapham and Austwick. The second run is identical to the first and I desperately attempted to make up for lost time, with quads right on the edge of seizing up all the way round. For those who’ve never done duathlon; the second run is extremely uncomfortable as your thighs scream out at you, especially after a hilly bike route.

The race was won in 1:57 by Mark Flannery of Tri Kudu, finishing 3 minutes clear of the second place runner. First lady was Molly Ralphson of Trawden AC in 2:16

First Clayton home was Paul Brannon (2nd V50) and congratulations also to Alan Life on his first duathlon.

Next year; I need to get out on the bike more as I really struggled with maintaining momentum in the headwind. I also need to push harder in the first run (my second run was two minutes faster which shows how far off the pace I was!)

I’d recommend duathlon to all; it’s easier/cheaper to get into than triathlon and the bike training is invaluable for runners wanting to tackle hilly courses, on or off-road.

Andy Armstrong