Holy grails and ‘Must Do One Day’ races in 2015 – blog

Age-grouper Andrew Keetley cracks open the 220 calendar and puts a big red circle around his first iron distance race, the Outlaw

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My January issue of 220 Triathlon arrives in the post, and as usual I tear open the cellophane in a haphazard manner to reveal what gems are inside this month.

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The first thing that tumbles to the floor is the 2015 triathlon calendar. Good timing as I am trying to get my head around how many events I want to enter, as I head toward the holy grail of my first iron distance event, The Nottingham Outlaw.

Naturally, I thumb through the new calendar and salivate over some of the tasty events on offer worldwide. On impulse I pick up the nearest biro and decide to mark the date of my big event. OMG, it’s already printed on the calendar! Well you can’t overprepare for any triathlon so I put a big red circle round that date just in case I forget.

Daydreaming

Of those calendar images many events stand out as MuDODs … ‘Must Do One Day’ ambitions. However, August and September are the two that really should take anyone’s breath away. August pictures The Norseman which takes place in Isklar, Norway. It makes claim to be the toughest iron distance race on the planet. My favourite video of the event is 2012 Breaking Barriers.  I can’t resist watching it purely for inspiration but at the same time it feels like a horror film. Check out the link here.

The September page offers the ÖtillÖ swim-run world championship. This is another event set in Scandinavia, in a Swedish archipelago. Translated into English, ÖtillÖ literally means island to island. The race involves swimming and running across the 18 islands between Sandham and Utó. There are no transition areas and the rules state that all competitors must complete the course with all the equipment they start the race with.

This means competitors have to be able to swim wearing a rucksack with which they carry their running shoes. This backpack also carries the compulsory first aid kit, compass and whistle. A further quirk is that the teams of two athletes are required to be within 10m of each other in the water and 100m on the islands. For a total of 10km swimming and 54km running this is really the ultimate aquathlon!

Back to reality

But enough of the daydreaming. I need to focus on those months for next year’s season. So for 2015 I have an iron distance at the end of July and a 70.3 in Mallorca at the beginning of May. Now nobody wants an overcrowded diary, and yes we should all train smarter and not just harder, BUT! I just like having an event on the horizon most months. It focuses training, gives me something to look forward to and stops me getting bored. Let’s face it, it’s more fun racing than training endlessly.

So into the diary go the spring duathlons. First of the season will be the Dambuster Duathlon. Such a tough event will make sure I am motivated to train from the off in 2015 once the last mince pie disappears. Clumber Park Duathlon is local to me and set in beautiful scenery, it is actually also the British Championships this year so the standard will be as high as ever.

Run/bike/run

Funny things these duathlons. When it comes to triathlon my strengths seem to be in the order bike, swim, run. So why on earth do I do an event that eliminates one of my good disciplines and replaces it with more of my worst? Well actually because it is fun. Setting up transition certainly seems a lot less stressful in duathlon. Though I did manage one of my most ridiculous multisport faux pas when I set off from T1 in somebody else’s running shoes last year. Doh!

Another great thing about duathlons is that I have cycling and running buddies who will come along and give multisport a go, whereas they are often more intimidated by the whole swimming and wetsuit business. So duathlons do seem to make great early season social events.

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The training music track of the month has to be a good one. Winter runs mean getting out the door in the cold, so get a lively track in the beans, and the warmup feels more like fun than torture, so here goes Imelda May and some “Mayhem”.