This time Karen tries out Duathlon

Duathlon de Bois de Vincennes – 5km/20km/2.2km – June 3rd 2017


Race reporter: Karen

On Saturday I participated in the new FFTRI Duathlon event in the Bois de Vincennes. The format was 5km run / 20km cycle / 2.2km run.

I picked it because of location; I could cycle to and from. Also the 1st ever ref event I worked was the IDF Challenge Duathlon in Senart Forest. I remember finding the event physically beautiful (as was the setting) with the run, bike, run flow. Potentially the higher level of athletes added to the effect. Though my worst ref nightmare came true on my 1st time out – it poured down rain with wind and cold and I didn’t know you could wear a raincoat under your chasuble – it lodged in my mind the desire to race in a duathlon.

This one was part of a weekend of activities called ‘Tournoi International Paris’ organized by the FSGL (Fédération Sportive Gaie et Lesbienne).
The duathlon in particular was sponsored by 3 athletic clubs: Les Dérailleurs, Athlétic Coeur de Fond and FrontRunners de Paris.
It was their 2nd annual; they chose to involve the FFTRI this year so they could learn to run it with improved organization. In 2018 the duathlon will not exist as the Gay Games will take place from August 4-12th.

Dossard pick up was in the gorgeous halls of Hôtel de Ville. In the square room with the fireplaces (for those who know) was a bar offering free drinks including beer as well as snacks. Oh you beer lovers who should have signed up…there were also free drink coupons for Sat and Sun night parties.
First stop was check in to get an accreditation to walk around. The ‘goodie’ bag was a Quetchua backpack filled with a multi-colored (obviously) pen, magnet, sticker, pin, bracelet, drinking cup, instructions on safe sex, a fairly graphic explanational on some sex techniques…as well as a variety of condoms.

After verifying registration, on to the amazing long hall where I had a year ago seen Jean-Paul Martins (adjoint sports) and this year saw the Mayor speak. All the way down on both sides were tables representing the different activities of the weekend. It was hard for me to figure out as going over that day I thought this was only a duathlon bib retrieval. This place was a festival.
In fact 3.000 people were picking up dossards for any of 25 sporting activities (Swim, Pétanque, Rugby, Roller, Tennis….everything) to be held in 25 locations around Paris.

There was an opening ceremony at 18h30 on Friday evening that I didn’t stay for so not sure if, though their name was on the invitation, JP Martins or the Mayor turned up or not.
I was busy being stuck on line 7 waiting for a colis suspect to pass inspection trying to get to swimming at Butte aux Cailles.

Saturday morning the bike park was in a space between the Allée Royale de Bois de Vincennes and the polygon bike track. It was a regular event style set up with the usual bike racks numbered by dossard.  There were two refs manning the park in a serious way. For this race there were two dossards for those that didn’t have a belt (about 75% of the 50ish participants were in tri suits) and plastic panel to attach in the front below the handle bars that had the number and first name on it.
The bike park was in a wheat field knee high so everyone was trying to matt down the area around there bike. It was the type that puts little dry dart like bits into your socks that are not comfy. We had our briefing and heading for the starting line. Departure was at 10am.

We were mixed at the departure arch with the participants of both the 5km and the 10km races. We all did the same loop down the Allée Royale turning off midway to the right on a path through the woods. With great luck, my friend and Bike & Run partner Becci (pictured with me at right) was running the 10km so she helped me stay at a consistent pace where her watched announced our negative splits – at which point I kept thinking, if we are going faster than before, then we could really just go slower no? We ended up at 30min – 10kph pace which is me getting back into shape.
She headed back around and I broke off to transition. Since I was already running with my glasses bike gloves and bib, all I had to do was throw on my helmet and switch shoes.

There was a line at the side of the polygon similar to what Nick does for brick in Vincennes. We were at the bend at the bottom of the fast descent where the wide turn is. The line was set up so that you had to go around a tree to get to it, thus is worked for both departure and arrival.  Of course in my fatigue once around the tree I started to get on my bike right away and the ref who I know said something like – are you kidding me, you of all people??? So I stumbled forward over the line and got on where I was supposed to.

During the briefing the ref told us she wasn’t sure if anyone would be on the bike course so we should do 6 laps and when we thought we had done about 6 to come back. Everyone laughed so hard. It turned out there were 3 stations around the loops manned bt 2 people each. One called off the numbers from the front panels and the other noted. They closely counted each person and number of laps. Apparently drafting was permitted because the stronger cyclists joined the public peletons cycling round.
There were the regular pelotons however since no traffic and on a route that I know, my main issue was to remember to go fast. I space out a lot and just enjoy the view. I had my watch on my wrist rather than my bike where I could see the numbers. I tried to mimic the rpm of the peletons in terms of turnover rhythm. I used my gears quite a bit to practice and decided to do the whole thing using the small cassette to build up some strength.

I did end up with an ave speed of 25,9kph with a max speed of 34,9kph. For me who averages 20kpm when riding around that, and knowing I didn’t give me all by any means, I can see how the least bit of practice brings strength.

A woman raced by me at the end saying come on. Times like that are when I realized that I can go a lot faster as I did to stick with her. I figured we were the last two. I was out of my shoes in only a few seconds. I saw she was so tired and said we can run together for the last 2,2km to support each other. But Françoise as her fans were calling her couldn’t get her bike shoes off, then she couldn’t tie her running shoes, so finally I took off.

Coming up the Allée I crossed with the people coming to the end of their loop. The volunteer said go straight on, which I did, except straight on was the finish line. She thought I was done. Thus I turned back around and headed off the way I should. I was alone on the path so hard to stay motivated for speed. I thought of earlier with Becci and said to myself, run so fast that you think you can’t possibly keep running. I tried doing that off and on. Around the loop back up the Allée on the other side and over to the finish line, where it turned out I wasn’t the last one at all. Oh me of little faith! Wippy (pictured left) was the ref on site right there to cheer me over the last metres  and celebrate my arrival.


Results are in as below

Run /31:19 (pace 9:58)             Cycle / 1:17:34 (pace 25:95)            Run / 14:57 (page 10:03)           Total time / 1:32:31              Placing 38 of 43  /=D  (could have been 43rd!)

As it is my 1st ever duathlon, it is obviously my personal best!


I highly recommend this format for practice with transitions in a (except for here) chrono setting for those who aren’t a big fan of the water. There are a number of them in the colder months around Ile de France.
Jan: Torcy, Sartrouville both VTT
March: Draviel, Meaux (Challenge Ile de France) both VTT+  Senart Forest road (challenge IDF event)
Sept: Bois le Roi road
Oct: Provins VTT
Nov: Nemours VTT