Nick Latimer wins duathlon silver!
I’m Nick Latimer, and in April I competed for Great Britain in the 2016 European Duathlon Championships in Germany. It’s an ‘age group’ championships – so countries from around Europe send the best duathletes in their age group to the event. I was delighted to come second in my group (35–39) and come home with a silver medal!
I’m quite new to duathlon, which is a mixture of running and cycling – in fact the European Championships were only my fourth duathlon race! I have to limit the number of duathlons that I do, because my haemophilia means that I’m a bit prone to injury when I run. Up until I was 18 I was a competitive runner, winning county championships and racing regularly, but then I started to develop hip problems – the result of many niggling injuries sustained while training as I was growing up. I had to stop running, so I got a bike and started cycling instead. I’ve been a racing cyclist for nearly 20 years now, and have picked up some decent results – probably the best being a top 20 in the national hill climb championships a few years ago.
Cycling has been great for my haemophilia. I’m a moderate/severe sufferer with a factor level of 4% and am lucky – I only need to treat myself a few times a year on average, although that seems to go in peaks and troughs. Without a doubt cycling has strengthened my muscles and that has protected my joints, which has reduced the amount of treatment I need. I live in the Peak District and while that is great training, I find that sometimes I get a bit nervous descending at speed – I don’t have prophylaxis treatment so I know I need to try not to crash. Crashes do happen occasionally, but all in all cycling is an excellent sport for people with haemophilia – we only need to look at Alex Dowsett to see that cycling is a sport that we can excel in!
A couple of years ago I decided to give duathlon a go. Standard length duathlons involve running 10km, then cycling 40km, and then running another 5km. After a few years of cycling I found that my muscles around my hips were strong enough to allow me to run pain free. I’m probably naturally a better runner than I am a cyclist, so I thought I’d try a duathlon. In my first one I came third, so I thought I might as well enter the national championships! Fourth in that (in my age group) was enough to earn my place at the age-group European Championships.
Training for the Championships went well. My first race of the season went smoothly, and I had a few more cycling time trials and one duathlon lined up. I have to be careful not to do too much running, as it can still cause me problems, but while training I was doing about 10 hours on my bike and one hour of running per week. What with work and a young family it was hard to fit this in, but it was worth it to make sure I did justice to the GB kit – and The Haemophilia Society logo!
Age-group athletes aren’t subsidised so we’re allowed to get sponsors. Bayer very kindly agreed to fund me to compete at the Championships. The Haemophilia Society helped me to arrange this, so I had The Society logo on my GB kit! It was a proud moment to compete for my country knowing that I was also representing people with haemophilia.