After a brilliant first season in triathlon last year Andover’s Natalie Thomas has made a start this year with her first ever Elite race, the British Elite Duathlon Championships, held at Rockingham Motor Racing Circuit. This run/cycle/run race had a cut off time of 21 minutes for the first 5km run and also had a rule that anyone lapped on the five lap 20km cycle course was also out of the race.
Natalie felt very nervous beforehand, especially as it was her first race where drafting (cycling close to others) is allowed.
She also knew that the first run would go off very fast as it was a very high standard field with the Elite Duathlon World champion and British Elite Triathlon champion present.
The race did start off fast and Natalie started quicker than she normally would but held the pace to come in well inside the cut off time in 19.08 before a slightly slow but good transition - this being her first race with her shoes already attached to the bike. The bike leg was all a big learning experience for Natalie where she did well with the drafting although for some of it she was riding alone and she smashed her 20km best time by four minutes.
After a successful dismount and avoiding the crash just in front of her, she was off on the final 2.5km run which she found very hard as she suffered from a stitch but she did well to cross the line in 16th place having given it everything she had. This is a good result for Natalie as Elite racing is a big step up from the age groups so she is learning and working hard to improve on certain areas. She commented after: “It was surprising how many people were out of the race due to not making the run cut off or being lapped on the bike.”
Since then Natalie has also raced in the Abbeyfield Duathlon in Calne where she finished as first female with a time ten minutes faster than her time last year on this course when she was third female. She also broke the course record by four minutes before a sprint triathlon down in Weymouth which was a 300m swim, 17km hilly bike and 5km cross country run.
Natalie was strong on the hilly bike course and ran well but was unsure where she had finished until the results were posted and was delighted to find out she was the first female.
Last weekend saw the British Triathlon Age Group Sprint Championships at Dorney Lake (the location for the Olympic rowing). Natalie felt she should do well in this race but was disappointed with the final result. She was happy with her bike section but her swim and run were not as good as usual finishing fifth in her age group. She also learned from this race and will work on this leading into her future races this year.
Natalie has a few busy weeks of racing coming up and first is the European Aquathlon Championships tomorrow in Cologne, Germany. Then she has gained Elite starts in the Blenheim and Windsor triathlons and finally has a qualifying event for the World Age Group Championships in Canada later this year. To support Natalie with her training and competing visit her fund me page: www.gofundme.com/natalie-triathlon.