I found myself entering this Longish distance duathlon race for a variety of reasons.

1st was that I went to school in the sleepy Dorset town and had missed the boat when the Ironman and Half Ironman was held there.

2nd was that people had hinted that I could be quite a useful duathlete.

3rd it fitted nicely into a mid season break from racing that happened after Bournemouth.

In the week after taking the win at the Bournemouth Triathlon I sat down with a friend of mine and respected coach and athlete Andy Blow and had a chat about my running. I established that I wasn't running enough and Andy gave me some pointers and structure as to getting me running quickly again. I had felt that it was my run that was a chink in the armour and needed work. A 5 week progressive programme and I started to believe in my ability to run again. Similarly I had seen some encouraging signs over the local 10 mile bike Time Trial route and I was starting to feel confident.

Leading into the duathlon I decided not to taper fully for it as I wanted to go and enjoy racing at a place where I spent 5 years, participating in most sports imaginable from rugby to the brutal sport of gauntlet run - where you had to go from one end of the dormitory to the other whilst being pummelled by pillows, pinned by duvets and dodging the odd flying mattress. Ah such happy times!!! I also wanted to use it as a big training day, and have as little disruption as possible to my training block. The lack of taper wasn't due to me thinking the race would be easy - I knew I was in for a tough race when I looked down the start list to see a who's who of duathletes - local, national, elite and famous. The course I know would be tough and when they said the run was flat in the athlete's information I knew they were being conservative with the truth!

The day before I took my son Oscar to the area. I remember going to the Fleet Air Arm museum when I was younger with my dad and so I thought I would take Oscar. I think he showed as much interest as I did at the time - not a lot. It did bring back some memories and I felt relaxed and ready to take him on the next stage of the tour! We rolled into town and I showed him my house, classes, dining room, the Abbey and even where I used to go to check whether I had made the teams for that week. His comment was "your school is just like Harry Potter's".

I racked the bike and then went to the briefing. The organisation was superb. It had the feel of a well organised, big event. similar to an Ironman - however due to this being it's first year of being run and a slightly unfavourable time of the season (4 weeks before the Powerman equivalent of Ironman Hawaii) there were only 120 entrants to the 2 distances. The long course being 10k run, 120k bike and 20 k run with my choice the shorter being 10k, 60k, 10k.

Come race morning I was up early. Everything (nearly) in the car and off we go. I get to the race site and start loading the bike up with drinks, and helmet and Garmin and bike shoes........oh cr@ - where are my bike shoes? I had forgotten my bike shoes. They weren't in my car and I had taken my spare pair out as well. I went white apparently. Seriously close to having a complete tantrum that would have solved absolutely nothing and embarrassed me and those with me. Calmly I listened to them and went to ask people in transition if anyone had any spare shoes. The problem here is two fold. Firstly - the size of the shoe which is a common problem for everyone, I am a size 9 which is luckily quite common. Secondly I use a not very common set of pedals. So with the pedal type being the vital factor I found two people using the same system. The first person I asked said he had a spare pair and said I could borrow them. Faith in the human race restored I could have given the gentleman a big hug but I was again aware of potential embarrassment to everyone! The fact that the shoes were 2 sizes too big didn't matter to me! I could do the race!

By now it had started to rain quite heavily yet it remained quite warm. We all huddled under the gazebo trying to keep dry as we listened to the final instructions. We would run 2 laps of the pitches before going round the town before re-entering the pitched area and doing a further two laps. The run would actually be 7 miles or about 12.5km!

When we started I moved to the front of the group in case the grass was slippy and someone went down. After the two laps we went down a steep descent and I remained in the top 5. A few people pulled away over the course of the run, but I knew that pushing harder now would gain me absolutely nothing. These guys were serious duathletes, in form and getting ready to race their A-race of the year in Zofingen. I felt I was running well enough for me - a 34:40 10km and a first run split of 39:43 - just about 45 seconds behind the leaders. I felt good and had a quick transition.

Straight away I felt out of sorts on the bike. The shoes simply didn't fit. It felt like I was cycling in wellies and my quads got a beasting going up the first long hill. But I was still in the race and I would do my best. I tried and tried and the roads gave nothing back. They were the kind of roads that rattle fillings out. But the scenery was simply stunning and whilst I missed the group and rode on my own the whole way round I had a great time. It really is a challenging course, but it isn't ridiculously hard. It rewards the strong bikers and today wasn't my day to be one of those. The 60km took me 1 hour 47 minutes.

Over the last few quad smashing kms I was caught by another rider and I stayed with him. By this point I was in 7th place and hoped to be able to put a decent second run together. I got off the bike and started running well. The first mile was run a decent time (5:43) and the second was close to 6 minutes and the third was ticked off in 5:50. So I was feeling very pleased with myself and happy that I had a gap on the chap behind me, but also the hard work put in over the month had paid off. At about half way we hit the long drag up to the top of town and this is where I felt my endurance (or lack of it) let me down. My stride shortened and I started to get quite warm. The sun had come out and the breeze had dropped by now. I went down the next hill and turned to find the aid station. It was here I slowed to a walk to take on board calories and throw water over me. The athlete behind me caught me here and determined to keep him behind me I set off up the hill again. I had walked this hill probably every day for 5 years. So I knew it well but I am sure it has got steeper since I left!!! Down to the bottom of town and back to the long steep climb. Here I cracked. I so desperately wanted to run but I couldn't. As I was passed he said "don't worry you will catch me on the flat". He had 20 meters on me and I had a mile to make it up. By half a mile we were level and with one lap of the pitch I thought I could have him. I have no sprint finish. I am the Bradley Wiggins off running, I can grind out a gentle increase of pace but put me up against someone who can kick and I am useless (as demonstrated at Oscar's sports day!)

Sure enough he kicked. I had nothing and within a matter of seconds he had ten meters again on me. Then 50, and soon it was 100 meters between us. I gave one last push to gradually get the gap down but I was gone. I ended up finishing in 7th place in a time of 3:14:20. About 18 minutes behind the winner and 33 seconds behind 6th place.

I was toast. I had given everything and crossed the line knowing that.

It really was a great day and a great event run by people who want to make this a success. I will return to this race one day and do it and myself justice. In the mean time now I can walk normally (I am writing this the Thursday after the race) I guess I should get back to running!

Next up for me is going to be the London World Championships. I will write something soon about what my expectations are ( once I have worked out what I hope to achieve).