The Hagan Stone Park Duathlon, put on by Trivium Racing, is a local race in the Greensboro, North Carolina area. The 2016 race was my first multisport event, and it was perfect for a beginner like me. The weather was great, the course was a blast, and everyone there was incredibly supportive, friendly, and just plain fun to be around.
About the Hagan Stone Park Duathlon
The race consists of a 5k trail run, a 16-mile bike ride, and another 5k on the same trail. The previous week’s weather didn’t have any rain, so there wasn’t much mud. In the places there was mud, the park had put down mulch, which was very helpful. I’ve heard that other years were a bit rougher in terms of mud and weather.
The bike course is a quick, two-loop course around the park. Police and volunteers do a superb job of blocking traffic and directing you, so riding it for the first time during the race isn’t an issue. There’s several rolling hills, so be sure to pedal hard on the downhill to carry you over the next one.
Trivium’s events are laid back in a good way. Everyone is there to have fun and perform well, but also encourage one another. Since I was new to anything besides running, I was very worried about getting disqualified for something.
Prior to the event, I emailed Rich, the race director, to introduce myself and ask a few questions. He was great, reassuring me that everything would go well. He answered all my concerns, and was extremely encouraging. It gave me the confidence to enter the event and see how I could do.
I couldn’t ask for a better first-time race
Coming into the race, I had no idea what to expect. I was talking with others before it started, asking if they had any advice. One seasoned triathlete said, “Don’t go out too hard on the first 5k. You have a lot of race in front of you, so pace yourself.” I thought that was excellent advice.
Here are my overall time results:
- First 5k: 23:04 (7:26/mile)
- T1: 0:40
- Bike: 49:39 (3:06/mile)
- T2: 0:34
- Second 5K: 23:57 (7:44/mile)
- Overall time: 1:37:53
That put me in 13 place overall (out of 75 people), and second in my age group (out of 4).
I was very happy with my performance. My goal going in was to just finish, but I was elated to walk away with a nice mug as a reward for placing in my age group.
Things to improve for the next race
Be strategic on nutrition and bathrooms
I ate a clif gel right before the start, which was good for the 90 minutes of racing. I had some homemade Gatorade ready for me in transition, but I didn’t end up using. In fact, I was probably over hydrated, and really needed to go to the bathroom during the second run. Running and bathrooms are always a battle for me. This reinforced that I need to figure that out, and probably lay off the water more before races.
Take Care of Bike Details
Two parts about my bike distracted me during that section. First, I realized early on that one of the bar end plugs had fallen out of my handlebars. I think this is against the rules because of safety, so that brought a lot of worry to me that I would get disqualified. Luckily, it was a laid back race, but it nagged at me and distracted from my best effort. That can easily be solved for next time.
Second, I dropped my water bottle (which then burst apart) during the ride as well. Not wanting to litter, I circled back and picked it up, but that again is something I could improve and easily shave 20 seconds off my time.
Taking time before race day to make sure everything is in order, and that my equipment works well, can help me focus solely on the race.
Things to repeat for the next race
Use the race day excitement to push hard
Starting out in multisport racing, I didn’t realize what exhilaration racing would bring me. I had run a marathon several months prior, but something about a small group giving it their all amped me up. I ran and biked harder than I had in any practice, and I was pleased with my performance.
Learn from other competitors
Perhaps the best part of the day was learning from everyone else that was at the event. I talked to many folks and got some great advice. I was already planning on a sprint triathlon, and I learned from others about how similar this dualthlon was to a tri. Some said that the swim is definitely easier than the first 5k on the front end. That gave me a lot of confidence – if I could do well in a dualthlon, then a triathlon should be very doable.
It was also really good to see all the gear others had. Right after the race, I knew that a race number belt would be my next purchase.
Advice for those doing the Hagan Stone Park Duathlon for the first time
For those of you considering doing the Hagan Stone Park Duathlon, here is my advice to you:
- Definitely do it – it’s a fun, laid back event with a supportive culture
- Use sunscreen – I didn’t think I would need sunscreen because it was still early spring, but I turned into a lobster later that evening. A lot of that came from standing in the sun after the race during the awards, but even out on the course, I wish I’d worn it.
- Arrive about an hour early, not any earlier – it’s not hard to find parking, and an hour will give you plenty of time; I showed up 45 minutes before and was fine
- The park does have a shower – in the camping part of the park they have a large bathroom that includes several hot showers; I went up afterwards to clean off and switch into street clothes since I had a decent drive home afterward
- Feel free to reach out to Trivium with questions – Rich and Libby run Trivium and do a fantastic job of making multisport events approachable for beginners and seasoned athletes
- Prepare for warm or cool weather – I got lucky because it was a warmer day, but this time of year can very easily still be very cold
Good luck to you – and let me know how it went for you.