Varsity Duathlon- Full Report

Post date: Feb 21, 2017 11:37:09 PM

It’s fair to say that at 4.45am in the corner of a small carpark in Cambridge, a few members of the Varsity Duathlon team were questioning their life decisions. Notably absent through injury and illness were Kate Curran and swim captain Aryan Sabir, and while we wish them both a speedy recovery, there is some suggestion that the latter feigned his ailments to avoid a race which involved no swimming. Despite the early start, however, 29 intrepid Cambridge triathletes made the journey to Eton Dorney, and by 8.30am, 60 Oxbridge students stood, shivering and not quite awake, ready to battle over the fast and furious 5km run, 20km cycle and final 5km run: Varsity duathlon was go.

Cambridge’s women were, it seems, in no mood for messing around. Leading almost from start to finish was Megan Wilson, an impressive debut in her multisport career, and she put her running pedigree to good effect coming through the first 5.2km in a little over 19 minutes. Similarly impressive and slightly ahead after the first run was Kaitlyn Saldanha, while women’s captain Olivia Peel sliced her way through the field to grate effect. Onto the bike, and Cloudy Carnegie – rumour has it she likes her eggs sunny-side-up – Molly Moss and Gina Blake refused to buckle under the pressure, drawing out a lead over five Oxf*rd athletes who would eventually occupy the bottom of the leaderboard. At the front, Wilson was briefly caught by an Oxf*rd athlete as she raced through transition, but quickly restored her lead with a stunning last run to finish in 1 hour 16 minutes and take the female Varsity title. Behind her, the race was on for the women’s blues cumulative title, with the first three athletes from each team to count. Finishing 3rd and 4th respectively were Saldanha and Olivia, the latter peeling away from her Cambridge counterparts, ensuring an emphatic victory for the women. Just behind were Kate Wilkinson, Rebecca Hughes and Katherine Williams, who, despite her neverending social commitments, had managed to get to bed at a sensible time and refrained from going “on the sesh” (needless to say, however, that she could be found at Sunday Life that evening). Finishing 5th, 6th and 7th respectively, such strong packing combined with gritty final runs from the other Cambridge athletes led to victory in the women’s mob. The women dominated, surely a product of their commitment to training over the past few weeks (even you, Olivia), and they will hope to continue such a fine run of form into Easter term. Cambridge 2, Oxford nil.

In the absence of one international triathlete in Kate Curran, the male side could count on another, Per Wangel, to provide a ray of hope in a men’s field otherwise dominated by the dark blues. Caught up in the frenzy of the start, Per wangled his way out of trouble and set off after Oxford’s Tom Lewin, the eventual winner. Behind him, three pairs (or should that be ‘Pers’?) of Oxford athletes separated Arnav Kapur, Olly Kidd, James Kershaw and Mathew Horrocks from the front of the race. The Cambridge athletes remained calm, however, counting on their cycling pedigree. Indeed, Kershaw and Kapur made up considerable time on the bike, and coming into T2 sat in 4th and 5th respectively. Behind them, an exceptional transition performance from David Willer led to him climbing through the ranks, while Will made huge Gaynes on the bike and Dan Smallbone put his slight frame to good use. The second run was dominated by Oxford’s men, and while Wangel led home the men’s blues in a comfortable third position, the dark blues placed 7 athletes in the top 10. Behind them, cycling captain Marcus Widdess made contact with Horrocks and Kidd, and the three were separated by little over a minute, with Horrocks leading home the men’s seconds to no avail. Oxford had taken the mens blues and seconds. It was the mob match, however, where Cambridge dominated. President Rob Chandler put in a strong bike leg (and remembered to take his helmet off in transition) while impressing once again were second-time duathletes Jamie Dougherty and Ewan Macauley. Motivated by his quizzing loss to Oxf*rd the day before, Macauley set out to answer his critics, and such a spirit was echoed by George Roberts, who was momentarily robbed of his dignity by a fall on the bike. Being a second year medic, however, George’s extensive clinical experience meant he was able to patch himself up and continue undeterred, and he was followed home by the strong Chris Weekes, Tim Kaosar, Joe Gilbert, James Freeborough, James Whitehouse and Simon-Ironman-Iremonger, rounding off the victorious men’s mob.

Cambridge’s team thus return victorious, a close-fought 3-2 win which owes much to the strength and commitment of the women’s squad. The spirit and determination shown in the final run is testament to the hard work of all who took part, and it’s fair to say that the team once again owe a massive thanks to Robert Chandler for his organisation and enthusiasm. Next up for the team is Varsity Triathlon, and it is hoped that Aryan Sabir will be enticed to participate by the 750m swim. Are you too a swimmer? Can you ride a bike? Can you run? If the answer is yes, no or maybe to any of the above or any other question, then get in touch! Contact our wonderful president Rob Chandler at or find us on facebook: GDBO.

Written by James Kershaw.