Kapiti Duathlete’s Spanish Gold

The race was harder than it looked. Waikanae Beach’s Ann Bould

Waikanae athlete wins world championship in Spain

By coach Roger Bould

PONTEVEDRA PHOTOS 049Pontevedra is about the size of Palmerston North. It’s on the north-western coast of Spain, about an hour’s drive north of Portugal.

It’s a city of contrasts. The old part is narrow streets hemmed in by stone buildings. You can walk all the way round it in about an hour, but you have to edge close to the walls when a car comes past because there are no footpaths in the old city.

The new part has wide streets, five bridges over the river, three lanes each way, modern, open and bustling.

Getting set for the big event

In June this year, Pontevedra hosted the ITU World Duathlon Championships, and Ann Bould went there to compete in the 70 – 74 age group race.

Duathlon is a bit like a triathlon, without the swimming. Instead, the athletes

  • run 10 kilometres
  • cycle 40 kilometres
  • run another 5 kilometres to the finish.

We arrived a week or so early, so Ann could get over jet lag and finish her training. We’d expected hot weather — it was early summer in Spain after all. What we got was rain and a chilly nine degrees. Through it all, Ann practised on the run course through the picturesque maze of the old city streets.

They closed some roads the day before the race, to let the athletes try out the bike course, but only some. Ann’s familiarisation ride was interrupted first by a puncture, then by a car that stopped suddenly in front of her. She planted her face on the rear of the car and hit the ground hard. The bruising was enough to draw comment from the crowds lining the streets on race day.

Plenty of spectator interest and encouragement around the tough course

Ann in SpainThe day arrived, too soon as usual, and with it, the sun, humidity and thirty degree temperatures. Thirteen hundred athletes competed in elite and age group races. Half of Pontevedra was out in force cheering them on, shouting for their favourites, recognising athletes coming around on their second lap.

The other half was in the licensed cafes, drinking beers and lattes, and watching the athletes put their bodies on the line in the summer heat.

 “The race was harder than it looked,” Ann said later. The slopes on the run course were short, but tough. The bike course wasn’t very steep, but it was mostly uphill for about ten kilometres before we turned to come down again.

The spectators were great. Wherever there was a house, there were people cheering and clapping. It really boosted me and got me trying harder.

At one point on the run course, a three-year-old was standing and clapping at the front of the crowd. Ann slowed, bent down and clapped with her. The crowd yelled approval. They were such a good crowd, she said.

A gold to add to the collection

And with that support, after more than three hours of effort, Ann came first in her age group: winning a gold medal to add to the two silvers and a bronze in other world championships.

Is she going to retire at the top? She said she would, but I’m not sure. Winning seems to have a magnetic effect on some competitors.