New on the scene in 2013, the Clumber Park Off-Road Duathlon is now in its 4th year and attracts competitors for an exhilarating combination of woodland biking and trail running. The 3,800-acre National Trust Clumber Park in Nottinghamshire is the setting, a beautiful parkland with vast areas of woodland.
The course’s two runs take in internal roads and trails, with the occasional hill thrown in to test the legs. The 16km bike features narrow technical woodland trails that occasionally open out into straights where you can pass the opposition.
If you fancy repeating the experience, Clumber forms the first round of the Midlands Off-Road Series, with two further events in November, the Evil Sheriff Duathlon and the Nottingham Off-Road Duathlon.
For a good all-round test of fitness and an early winter workout, Clumber should appeal. Darren Sharpe of RAF Triathlon, first in the 2013 men’s race in a time of 1:13:41, and series winner for the 30-39 age group, gives us his tips for some fun in the forest…
“The weather can be unpredictable in late October,” says Darren, “so bring plenty of clothing options – long-sleeved tops/arm-warmers, base layers and full-finger gloves. If it’s very cold, your glasses can steam up easily as the air isn’t moving as quickly in the tree sections of the course.
“Try to avoid mountain bike shoes with buckles as they’ll slow you down in transition. A hardtail mountain bike with front suspension is the ideal set-up for this course and it’s 29er-friendly as there aren’t too many technical sections.”
The first run
“The 5km run course starts on a downhill section of road. At the bottom of the hill the road bends before you start the climb, which is off road. The trails are hard packed, but an off-road shoe is recommended as there are some muddy areas.
“It’s worth walking round transition after racking your bike to see the entrance and exits for the run and bike as the start/finish line is around half a mile from transition.”
“The 16km bike course is fast and mainly flat with a couple of short, sharp climbs. Make sure you’re in the right gear as you approach the climb as it can catch you out, leave you with no option but to walk/run up it.
“There are also areas of the course where you need to ride over tree roots. Watch out for these if it’s wet as they’ll be very slippery. The course is two laps with a short section out and back to pick up the loop.”
“The second run is an out-and-back loop using part of the same route from the first run. It’s only 3km, so there are no excuses for leaving anything in the tank!”