Next Sunday, I’m competing in the 2011 ITU Duathlon World Championships in Gijon, Spain. Along with over 1,100 athletes from all over the world, I’ll get the chance to represent my country. What an opportunity! It’s definately a life long dream, to wear the green of Ireland.
Football is my first love, so I was waiting for the call from Charlton/McCarthy/Kerr/Staunton (ok maybe not)/Trapatoni. But at 29 have realised that the Boys in Green probably won’t need me for the Andorran and Armenian games, even if Richard “God” Dunne is out (I’ll stick to 5-a-side).
So what’s a duathlon? Well, 99% of you have guessed in involves “two” of something. Look at the logo above and guess. Yes it’s running and cycling. There’s a 10km run to start, then 40km on the bike, followed by a 5km run to finish. So basically a triathlon without the swim (which suits me down the ground, since I’m no Michelle Smith – even before her rise in Atlanta 1996).
How did I qualify? I’m not on drugs nor am I supremely talented and hoping to make the London Olympics 2012 team. But I did apply via Triathlon Ireland for this race. Each country has places for all World and European Championships. These places are divided per Age Group, so there were 5 places for my age group, 25-29. I entered a qualification race (Naas Duathlon back in February) and my time there got me in.
Who am I up against? Over 1,100 athletes in total, ranging from ages from 16 to 84. In my age category, 25-29, there are about 40 guys from all over the world. Most are Spanish (home turf) but there are Argentinians, Australians, Japanese, French, South Africans (but strangely no British or Americans). There are 11 people in the Irish team.
The pros are also racing – check out the race preview here.
The Fear of Power: check out the entry list of who I’m up against. They all have athletic sounding names; names you hear on the BBC when they do the athletics. I can hear Brendan Foster screaming their names out as they break the 1,500m world record. Names like “Wellington Santos Silva” and “Luis Adriano Stenzinger” from from Brazil; or my favourite “Rodrigo Rodriguez Fernandez”. I wonder what they’ll make of a guy named Power?
What are my expectations? I’m not targeting the gold medal, but would really like to do my best. I know most of these guys are too fast for me, but not all. I’m hoping to run a PB for 10km (~37 min). That will put me in a good position, but on the bike I will probably lose time to the good guys. On the 2nd run, I’ll try keep pace steady (18-19min) but at that stage will be enjoying the experience – it’s a lap of the city, so the crowds should be huge and the atmosphere amazing. I can’t wait to get to that finish line.