Five tips to conquer the BallBuster Duathlon

23rd July 2018

Seasoned participant and course record holder (2:31:54) Andy Greenleaf provides his top tips for BallBuster success:

  1. Make sure to wrap up warm for the bike. Put extra clothes in transition that you may or may not use, but remember to prepare for being out on the bike for well over an hour. Think about gloves, arm warmers, toe covers. Don’t risk the possibility of having to pull out for being too cold, and that’s speaking from experience!
  2. Sixteen miles is a significant distance to run, even without a 24-mile bike in between. Make sure you pace the first run sensibly, and I would suggest starting out no quicker than you would aim to run in a marathon.
  3. As the run and bike course follow the same route, use the first run as a recce for the bike. It is worth thinking about how to handle the descent through Headley Common, how to approach Black Lane, and how much energy to conserve for the final ascent up Box Hill.
  4. Time Trial or Road Bike? I’ve raced on both, and they both have their advantages and disadvantages. If it’s wet and windy, I’d likely opt for a road bike with some aerobars attached, otherwise I’d go for a TT if you have one. Ultimately you need to be in a position to brake suddenly and to handle a technical descent.
  5. Fuel well the day before. A three hour plus race requires a lot of energy, and given that it starts early in the morning, you can’t just rely on a big breakfast to get you round.

Three training sessions

  1. Tempo run off the bike. Cycle the race distance of 24 miles followed by a five-mile run at half marathon pace. This will help get your body used to running at a sustained pace on fatigued legs.
  2. Cycle hill reps. The Box Hill climb is 2.5km 5% climb, so you need to be able to maintain a steady pace to the top. If you have access to Box Hill, then go and do 4-5 repeats, or otherwise try on a different ascent with a similar profile.
  3. Long Run. I’ve always thought that the Ballbuster is as tough as a marathon, so the build-up for the race can have many overlaps. Do a long run of at least 12-15 miles 3-4 weeks beforehand, so that you will be prepared to handle the second run.