The parade of nations for the World Age Group Duathlon Championship is an interesting affair. The athletes range from slightly embarrassed to pleased as punch, but all are proud to be wearing their national colours – it’s a pretty big deal to represent your country at something; especially a sport.
A female piper leads them through their paces – she is bouncy and bubbly and really rather good. There are bagpipers on every corner of Edinburgh. I don’t particularly like the infernal instrument but most of these pipers are excellent – as they should be really or they would be drummed out of town. There are the ususal Flower of Scotland and Gay Gordons and we did hear one playing Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star which sounded rather odd. Our lead-out lady played We Will Rock You, among other things, and the athletes all lined up to listen to welcoming speeches and be inspired.
No amount of inspiration and plates of carbohydrates can make up for a stinking cold, however, and Him Outdoors suffered somewhat in the race. It was around Holyrood Park, and the Salisbury Crags, Arthur’s Seat and the Scottish Houses of Parliament made a dramatic backdrop. We all met at the transition to cheer and support him on his runs and bike ride.
He was obviously feeling the effects of his malady and, although he was laughing on the start line, he was visibly struggling in the first lap (out of four) and actually turned an alarming shade of grey. He then settled into something ‘a little more comfortable’ (these were his words afterwards) but it clearly wasn’t his best form. (You can check out his split times if you’re interested.)
His transition was excellent and he seemed to be happy to be on the bike. He cycled the five bike laps pretty much on his own which must have been hard. Of course there is no drafting in age group triathlon, but it still would have been good to see someone to chase down.
The final run was actually quite good – he had found his rhythm and was running confidently through the last two laps, bringing his position up to 38th (out of 74). Apparently you could request music as you ran over the finishing line; he didn’t know this but was still welcomed home by The Cure, perhaps a trifle too appropriately; ‘I’ve waited hours for this; I’ve made myself so sick, I wish I’d stayed asleep today.’ The commentators picked out his kit and he got a great mention for representing New Zealand in the ‘famous all black strip’ – he was first Kiwi home.
His overall time was 2:25:04. I know he said that he had wanted to do about 2:10 (which would have put him about 20th) but that’s simply not possible when you can hardly breathe. I know he will be the last to make excuses, and that he won’t be happy with the result but we are all very proud of Him Outdoors.