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A duathlete crosses Lee Bridge in Richmond
A duathlete crosses Lee Bridge in Richmond
photo: Richmond Sportsbackers

Why Do the Du? First-timers Offer Their Perspectives

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The USA Triathlon Age Group Duathlon National Championship has reached its limit of 1,200 participants, well above the organizer’s goal of 1,000.

Though registration for the April 26 championship event in Richmond, Va., is closed, all of the other on-road and off-road events for the festival weekend are still open. Total registration for the weekend stands at 1,640 participants.

Find out more about the Duathlon Festival at www.duathlonnationals.com.

What has driven interest in the event? We asked a number of participants – many of who will be competing in a duathlon or multisport event for the first time – why they will be racing in Richmond and what exactly is drawing them to the run-bike-run competition.

The answers have varied: some are looking for a new challenge, many are using the race to qualify for Worlds in North Carolina, others like the close proximity of Richmond to their home, many like the fact that duathlon has no swim, while stronger swimmers are using the event to improve their running.

Below are many of the responses we received from competitors… in their own words.

Duathlon combines the sport I love - cycling - and the one I'm learning to love - running… I did start a blog to promote and encourage the sport (http://doduathlon.com). I can't wait for the race in Richmond!
--Bradley Saul

This is my first duathlon. Why? Because it’s there. Because I’m not getting any younger at age 46. Because it’s a goal to assure that I continually train, and being a tax accountant it’s too easy to stop any and all training during tax season, so this is keeping me to some limited training through April 15.
--John Bamsey

I was all ready to go in 2008. I had a sponsor, my entry fee was paid, my room was reserved and i was ready for a great race. Then March 20, 2008 I broke my leg playing flag football. 3 surgeries later I'm going back to Richmond to do what i planned to do last year. Win! All the months of frustration and rehab have prepared me to do battle like never before. I couldn't run or bike March to September. I stayed to shape as best I could and now I'm better than ever and ready to do my best... and I will.
--Rick Copley

… I love the run and bike and only tolerate the swim as the bit to get me to the "fun" part, but I do love the sport of triathlon so I hope to further my ability in duathlon in conjunction with the tri's - not in replacement of it.
--Maureen Forsyth

I started running after the USA Cycling National Championship that was July 2008. Training your body to go run-bike-run has been a real challenge even thou I used to run 30 years ago. I have enjoyed training and participating in duathlons so much that I am going to continue to do them and maybe a triathlon in 2010.
--Gordon Holt
Matthews, N.C.

This will be my first duathlon in about 12 years and my third duathlon ever.  I like the challenge of the run bike run events because the people are great, and the dual sport events break up my training schedule nicely.
--Melvin Strane
Richmond, Va.

I decided to try a duathlon out of curiosity, as well as the interest in training in a little different way.  Though I have cont'd to swim (and will do 4-5 tri's this year as well), I have changed my brick to a run-bike-run, which I have found very challenging.  As a matter of fact, I expect this race to be considerably more difficult than an olympic distance tri.
--Joan Perry

…It's fairly close, the format and course look great, they're really interested in building participation, Richmond is a beautiful city - what more could one ask?  
--Liz O'Connell

Why duathlon? It is a blue-collar event; tough, requires grit and is less glamorous then its Tri counter part.  It’s a tough multisport endurance event that offers the athlete no chance to let-up. It fits well into my love for endurance events and my passion for speed.  The event does not start out with a relaxed controlled swim, rather explodes off the starting line into a heart pounding effort that never lets up until you reach the finish line or bonk.   
--Kirk Herring
Spokane, Wash.

I was always an avid duathlete (never liked the water) but have not competed in five years. I missed the competition and the people and had to get motivated to get back in top shape. Being in a new age group this year and having Worlds in the states was an additional push.
--Diane Travis

… this will be my first duathlon. I have been running for my health and my own competitive goals for a little over four years. I have run two marathons, four half marathons and several 5 and 10k's. I bought a road bicycle a year ago with the idea of reducing the amount of strain that I was putting on my body during marathon training. As it turns out, I have really enjoyed the activity, which has naturally drawn me to my first duathlon to see if I can successfully combine my two favorite sporting activities.
--Mike Lang

Duathlon Nationals is a great time of year to test my fitness. Though, I must admit the two most important reasons for participating this year are proximity to home and competition on the national level.
--Cory Ryan Brown

My last duathlon was the World Championships in Switzerland in 2003. Since then I've had health problems, injuries and basically a lack of motivation due to the above maladies.  I tried numerous times to make a comeback but always had setbacks so I basically gave up. In Dec 08 I looked in the mirror and didn't like what I saw. I was 25 lbs heavier around the middle and decided that I needed a goal for 2009. A friend of mine convinced me to train for the Nationals. For the last 3 and half months I've been working on getting back in shape, building endurance and loosing weight. My goal is to qualify for the US team and compete at Worlds. If I qualify then I'll have all summer to continue my training and hopefully be ready for the world championships. My expectations right now are not too high because of only having a short time to train and especially with the caliber of participants in the 55-59 age group. That group is a who's who of past duathlon history. See you on the starting line!
--Don Bergan

This is my first multi sport event. I’ve done some running races i.e. 10k, 1/2 marathons and one marathon. I have not competed in a multisport race. My wife got me to enter. She did a mini tri last year and it looked fun. I was in the military and after getting hurt I see this as a way to rehab and prove to myself that I can still compete. I know I will not be a leader in time or anything but this multi sport training has helped me keep my weight under control and allowed me to explore a sport that I have come to enjoy.
--Hayden Gafford

My wife and I were triathletes first and then last October we both had an opportunity to compete in our first duathlon together and were immediately hooked.
 
The Nationals will be our third event together… My wife has been doing very well in her age group and I honestly feel like she has a chance to qualify for the Worlds. Knowing she would not sign up for this event on her own, I pitched it to her as a weekend away (we are leaving the kids at home) for her and I. So she thinks this is a weekend away for us, but I see it as a chance to see how she does against the best in the business.
--Howard "Reggie" Fields

I've always wanted to complete an Ironman and the duathon seems like a great way to start. The multi-sport idea is a great way of mixing up disciplines and a full body workout. I'm very excited about my first race and of course the finisher’s pint glass.
--Paul
Richmond, Va.

Late last year I decided I needed a bigger challenge to really see if I have what it takes to compete in a National venue. When I saw the Duathlon Nationals in Richmond Va., I decided this would be my test. I am now 57 years old and have been training hard for the last several months with hopes of qualifying for the Duathlon Worlds in September. But, even if that doesn't happen I feel I have accomplished so much just from the improved attitude and feeling of satisfaction my training has given me.
--Bob Wojcik

…I am not sure why it took so long for me to try this sport… I love this sport for a number of reasons including the following:

1.   Transition set-up is so much easier
2.   No wetsuit to squirm in and out of
3.   I am not getting on my bike cold and wet
4.   I am not clearing out my sinuses for the first 10 miles on the bike

See you in Richmond!
--Debbie Weir

When I heard of the "Nationals" Being in VA I took some time to mull over an entry and if I could get back into running shape in 4 months after not taking a single stride since 06. With the announcement that the "Worlds" would also be in NC, my home state, the deal was sealed! I commenced training on 15 Dec 08 with the support of my coach and family. This one event will be THE event that will cap my 50th year and hopefully bring me the opportunity of reaching my life long goal in Multi Sport and that is a spot on Team USA!
 
AGE IS NOT A FACTOR!
--Brian Grenier

I'm racing Duathlon Nationals for several reasons. I've always wanted to try a run/bike/run event but it seemed that they were always scheduled in conjunction with a triathlon that I was racing. I moved to Virginia a couple years ago and returned to school to be a Paramedic. The combination of working 24-hour shifts as a firefighter/EMT and spending my off time working clinical hours has cut in to my training significantly, and in fact I've eliminated swimming from my training schedule this winter. Conveniently now, a swim-less race is close to home and I have no excuse to not finally give it a try. Not only is the location and my schedule working out for me, but I feel like it is a bargain of an entry fee, especially with what looks like a seriously great goodie bag!
--Doug Brede
Firefighter/EMT (soon-to-be Paramedic)

I am a triathlete and a third year law student who is attempting to finish my law school this semester, work part time, prepare for the bar exam and train for triathlons. However, training for triathlons proved to be difficult. The trip to the pool was too much given my time restraints. With running, and biking I simply leave my house and go. I have never competed in a duathlon before, but saw the Richmond race, and knew the venue was a nice and not that far from my home in New Jersey.
 --Daniel Sullivan

It was a regular weekend while flipping through the channels on the television I found a show about triathlon and I was hooked. That same day I was on the treadmill running in preparation for a local 5k. It’s been almost 6 months and 35 pounds later, but I find myself now only weeks away and I'm ready to burst with excitement. I know I wont be winning my age group or even coming in on the top half of competitors, but this journey has taught me a lot and hopefully this is just the
beginning.
--Ryan McGovern

My best friend is a competitive triathlete, and her entry into the Richmond race inspired me to sign up for the off-road race. This winter, I chose not to renew my gym membership. Instead, I used this race as motivation to get outside and run and ski everyday through the winter months, and to ride my bike trainer on the coldest days.
--Jennifer White, 32
Saranac Lake, N.Y.

I am using du nationals as a way to inspire me to become a better runner again. I don't think I have a shot to place this time around but it's ok. I think the race seems to be run great and the fact that we get some great stuff with our entry fee was nice.
--Dave Sempier

…I am thrilled to have a high-caliber duathlon that provides an opportunity for me to compete against my 60-64 age-group peers at the national level. I am looking forward to this experience!  
--Christine McKnight, W 60-64
Schuylerville, N.Y.

I am doing the duathlon nationals this year because after a 6-year layoff from Multisport I am getting back into it. I still do triathlons, but duathlons to me are a lot of fun, and since I am a fairly decent runner, it gives me a lot better chance to win at the end.
--Anthony Lee

I will be participating in my first duathlon this year at the Nationals. I got interested in the idea of triathlons two years ago and participated in my first events last year… A lot of people that I know are intrigued by the idea of a triathlon, but too scared of the swim to seriously follow-through with the training. Duathlons help these people set aside their fear of the open-water swim and excel in the dry disciplines.  
--Jeremy Crumley

I'm excited to participate in the Richmond duathlon; it's my first one. I've participated in many running events ranging from 5Ks, 10Ks, and 10 milers the past 3-5 years. However, I wanted to challenge myself since I've really enjoyed the biking aspect, so the duathlon is perfect. I don't feel strong in swimming so the triathlon wasn't a fit for me.
--Amy Quan

The opportunity to race a duathlon is motivating with a past history of running and as a way to stay in shape and have a new goal.  It's also motivating as my son (10) will be participating in his first duathlon. As a former Physical Education teacher, lifetime fitness and fitness activities are especially important to me.
--Jon Wirsing
Sandy Hook, Va.

As a long time triathlete, I decided to “tri” a different kind of competition and go outside my comfort zone in a duathlon event. I am not a super runner – rather, my strengths are in the swim and bike. So, to get better at the run portion of a triathlon, I am giving this duathlon a whirl.
--Patricia Clifford

I have always been drawn to multisport but never was a swimmer. I have taken lessons but still struggle. I can get through a swim in sprint tri but I am not competitive.

I did my first Du in Florida about a year ago. I had a blast despite a small turnout. Four months ago, I became captivated by the opportunity to compete at Nats and qualify for the Worlds. The idea of being on Team USA would be a dream come true.
--Randall Maddox  

If you ask a triathlete who has never done a duathlon what they think of duathlon, they will generally say, it’s not a real sport and it is for people who don’t know how to swim (like that’s a bad thing!). Ironically, if you talk to triathletes who have actually done a duathlon, they will always say that duathlon is MUCH harder on your body than triathlon!
--Cathy Williams
London, Ontario, Canada

I've won masters awards in local duathlons and decided to try duathlon nationals to find out how I compare in a much more competitive field.
--Tom Hughes

This will be my first duathlon. I've never done a triathlon, but I hope to do my first one this summer. I've been running for two years now and have done half marathons and shorter races.
--Ben Lyman

This will be my first duathlon. I signed up at the encouragement of my club, DC Triathlon club, to support the duathlon community. I believe it will be a great tune-up prior to tri season really taking off in May.  
--Toby Krasney

Duathlon fits my strengths, and I chose to go to Nationals as a way to see how I stack up compared to the rest of the country. I am looking towards qualifying for worlds.  
--Justin Harris
New Paltz, N.Y.

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