Duathlon’s pulling ’em in

It was a great turn out, the best in post-Ivan history.

The annual DHL Duathlon was another supreme success for the chief organisers Larry Walters and Celine Macken.


Mikkelsen is the new champ. Photo: Ron Shillingford

Nobody seemed sleepy eyed at the 7am start from the rugby club on South Sound on Sunday. A combination of running and cycling, consisting of a two-mile run, followed by a 12-mile bike culminating in another two-mile run was the process.

Walters, at 62, is not prepared to give in to Father Time despite knee and ticker surgery in the past. He finished as strongly as ever and is a testament to only feeling as old as you want to be.

Marius Acker, preparations hampered by injury, this time teamed up with cyclist Steve Evans instead of defending his individual title. Wise move because Jasper Mikkelsen has emerged as a considerable threat.

Also there is a new runner on the scene, John Rankin, who was a world class miler. Rankin sped ahead of Acker on the first leg and he looks capable of giving Scott Brittain a serious test.

Brittain won the team event with Evans last year but passed this time to concentrate on training for the Boston Marathon in three weeks.

Acker teamed up with Evans three years ago and won and they were favourites for this one although Gary Clarke and Mike McDonald posed a threat.

Marlene West won the women’s title last year but was out injured. Caroline Heal and Justine Plenkiewick looked most likely to snatch the title.

Serious cyclists can spend thousands on their hi-tech bikes and equipment but that does not necessarily make them a better athlete.

Jerome Ameline is one of the fastest riders around but after having a clear out of his attic recently and discovering a rickety mountain bike, he decided to dispel the notion that a state-of-the-art machine is the only way to ride fast.

Amelinie was inspired by the title of Lance Armstrong’s book: It’s not About the Bike. He wasn’t the only fun rider.

On a weighty tandem was Jerome ‘Mad Helicopter Pilot’ Begot with his son Sebastien, 15. They pedalled like crazy and seemed to get nowhere fast so deserve props just for finishing.

There were also appearances from Cayman Free Press journalist Eugene Bonthuys, Rodger Yeomans and John Broad, of course, on his recumbent.

The run took competitors from the rugby club towards George Town along South Sound Road, before returning to the club for the transition to bikes.

Cyclists followed the bypass out to Hirst Road and turned left up to Candover Road. From there they made their way back to the transition area for the final run.

DHL took the opportunity to promote its new Easyshop service.

With Acker out of the individual, the race turned out to be an anti-climax as Mikkelsen breezed it, coming in at 57 minutes and 1 second, well ahead of Barry Jones who finished in 64:22. Third was James Ogden in 64:25 so he must have had a stiff battle with Jones.

First woman to finish was Heal in 67:05 then Plenkiewick in 72:49 and Macken in 73:09.

Clarke and McDonald won the team event ahead of Acker and Evans, aka Sub 51, with team Sub 60 third.

Ameline looked weird on his mountain bike yet did the course in around 33 minutes, only around two minutes slower than Clarke which confirmed his theory that the rider is more important than the quality of the bike.

Walters said: ‘This was a great event. We had around 120 competitors and the help was superb. We had 20 committed volunteers who left their families to be with DHL and we had another 15 on top of that.

‘DHL’s Mark Wollard and Simon Fenn were very supportive financially and with all their volunteers. We had only to concentrate on running and biking.’

What about his own performance? ‘I just love to finish. I start off slowly and finish strongly so that I look good, that’s very important!’

Macken said: ‘This is the best turn out since Hurricane Ivan (2004). Before that we had more, plus we had the kids as well.

‘I’ve been doing this for 15 years and to be finishing up there with people 20 years younger is pleasing. DHL support is fantastic. It’s great to have a sponsor that participates so well.

‘The next triathlon is in June which is more a social thing for beginners. Then we have the Stroke and Stride in August. In the meantime the cycling association has a lot of events planned as well as the runners.’