In spite of not having had a winter particularly conducive to running and cycling – especially with most of Oxfordshire being currently underwater – the Oxford University Triathlon Club sent a record number of forty athletes to race against Cambridge’s paltry twenty five in this year’s Varsity Duathlon.
The Duathlon consists of a 5km run, a 20km bike and another 5km run, and is typically held at the stunning Dorney Lake. In past years we have encountered sleet, rain, and sub-zero temperatures at this event; however, we were greeted at dawn by perfect sunshine and relatively still winds which, after the recent weather, were more than a blessing!
Perfectly flat courses and very straight cycling sections along the lakeside mean that it is an excellent venue for some super-quick sprint times, and certainly Oxford did not disappoint. However, it became clear that it takes more than speed to win a race; Oxford’s very own James Felce – performing in his last ever race in the Blues category – narrowly missed out on first place by a mere ten seconds simply because he missed the last turning into the finish line.
Unfortunately this, and some excellent performances from CUTriC meant that Oxford lost the Men’s Blues competition. However, the same cannot be same for the ladies, with international triathlete Sophia Saller and Marie McHugh coming in first and third place, securing an excellent victory for the Women’s Blues. Oxford went on to dominate in the squad mob matches, with both the men and women of the OUTriC squad beating Cambridge once again.
As well as this, for the first time Oxford and Cambridge were competing in a new category, allowing alumni to return to race with the clubs. Our very own Hannah Johnston, last year’s Club President, returned to win fastest female alumnus (although she was at a slight advantage, being the only female alumnus there).
The result was a decisive 3-1 victory to Oxford, a real confidence booster this early on in the season. With only a few months until Varsity and BUCS Triathlon – and a very gruelling training camp in Portugal in between – the club will have their work cut out for the months ahead before the busy triathlon season starts in earnest come May.
Many triathletes were involved in ferrying fellow athletes to and from the event, while Sam Banner organised an excellent post-race meal with the Tabs in Windsor, all of which speak volumes as to the great team spirit within the club.
It was an exciting race which owed much to the mix of beginners and experienced triathletes, and this bodes well for the future. OUTriC is open to all levels of ability. so anyone with an ambition to combine running, swimming, and cycling is invited to get involved