The Bison Duathlon, a new event held on the Dunstable Downs using as it’s main feature the well known local landmark, Bison Hill.
Anyone who has ever visited Whipsnade Zoo has probably driven up the hill, it’s the steep one before you get to the car park. It is also possible to go up it from the inside as well via a path so that makes it ideal for a duathlon.
There were 2 possible distances, the full (13km, 30km, 13km) and a sprint (6.5km, 19km, 6.5km), me, I chose the sprint as I thought it would make a good training session for the Ballbuster next month.
The weather was misty and there was certainly a bit of rain in the air, and this meant the views were pretty much lost from the top of the downs, which was a shame. It wasn’t too cold but the temperature was at that point where it made what to wear of what leg a little tricky, you don’t want to be too hot on the run and then cold on the bike. For what it is worth, I went for a base layer, short sleeved jersey, arm warmers, gloves (which came off after the bike leg) and shorts. This turned about to be about right, I probably should have left the gloves till the bike leg and not bothered on the first run, but it didn’t make too much difference.
After the usual pre-race briefing the run was off and we headed out onto the trails path around the top of the downs, which dropped down and wound it’s way round to the bottom of Bison Hill and the infamous cut steps and the slog up the hill. Once over the hill it was basically a flat run to the transition area.
Quick (well average) change into the bike shoes and off onto the road. The bike course went downhill to the bottom of Bison Hill, where the slog up the hill began. Once the hill was done the run back to the transition area had another sneaky uphill drag
The second run was round the same course, although a bit slower than the first one!
So, what was it like then? Well the short answer is it was good fun but hard, I certainly was not in any shape to have done the full distance one. The course was well thought out and the run course especially was an enjoyable run. Having an event where the run was offload and the bike on road made for a good change, running off road is not only more fun but is harder than road running and certainly more interesting.
I was certainly feeling it in my legs at the finish, I think I probably started the first run too fast and then paid for it for the rest of the race, my left calf felt like it was on the verge of cramping from near the end of the bike until the end of the run, it didn’t but certainly felt like it might.
Overall I really enjoyed the event, it was well put together for the athletes and the medals were good as well. The only downside was that the National Trust for whatever reason didn’t open the centre that servers food and drink until about 9:30, when the race started at 8:00 and there were certainly plenty of spectators who wanted to get in there early! Certainly not the fault of the organisers.
When the event returns next year I would recommend it, it is a good challenge on excellent courses and is well run, have a look at their website for more details here