07 December 2022

Plan ahead: The London Duathlon – the event explained

March 28, 2017
Thinking about entering your first duathlon, or simply still relatively new to the sport? This blog post is here to take things back to basics and give you everything you need in preparation for a duathlon race!

The simple definition of multi-sport is “a timed race involving multiple sports”. A duathlon starts and ends with a run, with a cycle leg in-between.  The start can be in different waves (groups of people setting off together rather than a mass, everyone start), and events are often chip-timed which means that your time will be recorded from when you cross the line rather than a single start time.
The transitions are the changes between the different sports – run to bike or bike to run in duathlon.  The time it takes you to change from one sport to another is included in your overall time, so experienced and elite participants practice these changes to help reduce the time taken.  The term T1 refers to the first transition, T2 the second transition.
You don’t need much kit to enter a duathlon.  All you need is running shoes, a helmet and a bike, and many events offer the ability to hire a bike/helmet. Try to make sure your tops and shorts are not too baggy as this will increase wind resistance on the bike.  As long as your bike has flat pedals you can complete the run and bike legs in your running shoes, meaning you don’t need specific cycling shoes.
In most multi-sport events you can use any form of bike, although fold ups, fixed or single speed may be banned.  A road bike is most common but many people compete in duathlons  on hybrid bikes and occasionally mountain bikes.  As a general guide, as long as the event is on road, then the thinner the wheels/tyres the better, as this will mean you’ll be able to travel faster and more efficiently.
Most duathlons will do a few checks on your bike before you enter transition to rack your bike.  This is for safety purposes and to ensure your bike is roadworthy and fit for racing (eg testing brakes etc.).
Duathlons are endurance sports. Many events have more than one distance available, and beginners are probably best advised to select the shorter distances to start with. The most popular distance for a duathlon is 10k run, 40k bike and 5k run, hence in London Duathlon this is called the Duathlon distance with a Half Duathlon being 5k run, 22k bike and 5k run.
The rules of duathlon are quite simple, but a few rules to be aware of are:
In transition before touching your bike you must put on and fully attach your helmet.  The reverse is the case for docking your bike after the bike leg – you must fully rack your bike before undoing and removing your helmet.
Drafting is a rule to be aware of.  Drafting is benefitting from the reduced wind resistance behind other cyclists (put simply, sitting in behind the cyclist in front).  This is forbidden in most non-elite races.  You must ensure you do not ride too close to cyclists in front.  If you do need to pass them you must do so within a set time and you should keep to the right of the cyclist ahead.
Coming out of transition on to the bike leg you must not cycle your bike until you have passed the “Mount line”.  This line will often have a marshal monitoring it.  Similarly as you come back into transition after the bike leg you will need to dismount your bike fully before reaching the “Dis-mount line” – don’t worry it will all be clear on the day!
The final piece of advice is to simply enter here!  Once you have entered, you are a step closer to being a Duathlete. You will learn so much from other participants and the friendly staff.  You will also pick up a lot of great tips simply by watching people in transition.

Good luck on your duathlon journey – it is a fantastic sport and one which is really welcoming to first timers.

The Women’s Sports Magazine

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