by Shane Molyneux
I have competed in many competitions: 5Ks, Market to Market Relay, IMT Des Moines Marathon Relay, Taming of the Slough, Annawan Canal Ambush, Trestle Hustle Duathlon, and the Above and Beyond Adventure Tri.
Many of these were trying races that make you push yourself beyond where you have been before. The Des Moines Dirty Duathlon would prove to be test I had not come across before.
Dirty Duathlon Training
A friend of mine talked me into signing up, and so the training began. After riding the mountain bike trails in eastern Iowa and lower Wisconsin, I felt that I would have the skills necessary to be competitive. So I blew the dust off the Giant Anthem 29er, had Kyle tune this baby up, and began the training.
I am a regular at the gym, and alternate my cardio between my Specialized Tarmac on the trainer and the treadmill. Sprint training and distance training keep the lung capacity where it needs to be to keep me ready to do the races I like to do.
With that said, I have been road biking in lieu of mountain biking for four-plus years now, so I was a little rusty to say the least. The Giant and I began on the Memorial Park trail here in Ottumwa, and to say she didn’t buck me off a time or two would be a lie. A few scrapes and bruises later and we were back simpatico, flowing over the features and drops.
Two weeks before the race I rode a couple of laps on Center Trails to familiarize myself with the lay of the land. Then a week before, my friend and I did a lap run with a two lap ride. So good, right?? HA! Not close.
Dirty Duathlon Race Day
I am cold blooded by nature so I was asking myself, "What the heck have you gotten yourself into." The good news is that staying warm while staging and prepping was the only time that I would have to worry about being cold! As we lined up and prepared for the race, there were people from all different skill levels bouncing around trying to keep warm.
The race director put us in the starting position and we were off!! The first leg was a two-plus-mile run. Setting a pace and settling in is always the hardest with 40–50 people packed together on single track at the start, but we all survived and were head-down determined. The first lap went by smoothly with the course being well packed and maintained. The thinning of the pack allowed me to get in stride and find my path around roots and cutouts.
Transition time to the bike let the huffing and puffing begin, while changing shoes and mounting the bike. Feeling just a little cocky as I rolled out on the bike, the Giant decided to remind me who is boss after a technical error on my part at the VERY beginning of the course. The rear tire slipped out as I transitioned and there went three more riders as I remounted and began on the biking trek. I muttered to myself “nice job rookie.” Then I began to tell myself to settle down and get moving to make up the time. The elevation at the beginning is always tough, but then the trail seems to get easier. As I began the third lap I thought to myself, “Hey this isn’t so bad, you’ve got this.”
The back and traps were tight as I finished my third lap and all I could think was, "I can’t wait to get off the bike to stretch out and begin my run" (not something I have ever thought to myself). By this time, we had all fallen into a rhythm and had the trail pretty much all to ourselves. Now on the last half mile, I began to feel the overwhelming accomplishment of it all and used the reserves up to push through to the finish.
The race was well organized and executed. I’m always looking for new experiences and this was one of them. Hitting my goal of finishing under two hours was accomplished. Looking back at what you can truly do if you set your mind to it, I am sure I will be looking for more of these in the future. Thanks to Kyle for the bike tune up/adjustment and the folks at the “Dirty” for the challenge!!
Shane took fourth place in the Male Masters Solo division. Full results from the Des Moines Dirty Duathlon are accessible from the Central Iowa Trail Association website.
We have reports from previous Des Moines Dirty Duathlon races.
"Shane Running Toward Camera" by CITA
"Bike Start" by Deanna Polson
"Running in the Woods" by Deanna Polson
"Shane Finishing" by Deanna Polson