Glentress winter duathlon series - the winteriest yet?

I tried to do the Glentress duathlon in February last year but it was cancelled due to the snow. I didn't expect the same thing was likely to happen in November but waking up to the sound of car wheels skidding outside, I was a bit worried about getting to Peebles at all.

Fortunately and with a bit of perseverance, we made it in one piece. The Edinburgh bypass was pretty dodgy but everywhere else was ok and we arrived just in time for registration.

Despite only half the field braving it, the race still went ahead and I was really glad we'd made the effort for such a great event. The bike was first and started up the fire roads then moved onto the blue trail. I was suffering from cleat-withdrawal symptoms and everything felt a bit wrong. I didn't quite have the power I wanted or feel like I got the fast start I was hoping for.

Normally straightforward trails were slightly trickier in the snow and a few people got off on the downhills. It was pretty difficult to pass anyone until we got to the next fire road. Whizzing down it on the snow felt a bit precarious but even gingerly pulling on the brakes was a bad mistake, resulting in wheels snaking wildly. So I mentally glued my fingers to the grips and decided I'd be ok with high speeds. At least I was overtaking the more cautious bikers. There's no half way house in those kinds of conditions it's either all out speed or snails pace. When it came to the steep uphills with the tight switchbacks, I just couldn't get round without my wheels spinning. I remember those bends were really difficult when I started biking. It was quite funny feeling like a total beginner again!

The bike course was over quickly and amazingly my fingers had warmed up to the extent that I could shed my gloves. I think the temperature was around minus five so I must have been working hard! The run was a rather brutal 'straight up the hill', only achieved with much complaining from my leg muscles. I picked up my Christmas bauble from the top of the hill and stuffed it in my back pocket to leave my hands free for tumbling down the hill at full tilt. I overtook a few people on this stage (thanks to the Innovates and Westies run sessions) and really enjoyed the downhill. I was pleased with my time for the run - I think I came far higher in the run split rankings than I did for the bike, despite biking being my preferred discipline.

The race finished back at the carpark with hot soup and seemingly endless supplies of cake. Another solid middle of the pack finish. I think anything that gets you out and racing around in the winter is great and it's always a breath of fresh air after being cooped up inside. I'm looking forward to the next two in the series.


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