It’ll be back in the summer of 2024.
Like the Yahoo, the PRR Duathlon is a fine and long-established tradition. The men’s competition started in 1992; the ladies’ in 2000. The men’s trophy carries the title ‘Biathlon’, pre-dating, as it did, the advent of duathlons as we know them today. However, there is no XC skiing or rifle shooting to be found at this PRR event (or, indeed, any other, as yet).
The duathlon, generally, is a combination of cycling and running. Most standard, modern duathlons proceed run-cycle-run. But the PRR Duathlon is far from standard or modern.
Normally held on a summer evening (but occasionally as late as November on a weekend), the Duathlon has been ably organised by Kevin Rogers (with many volunteers) in recent years. It starts from the north side of the quaint village green in Pitcairngreen with a 6.85/4.2-mile km run (click here for lap map), and undulates out to the north and back south via the Dryarch road. It’s then out of trainers and onto/into the saddle for two larger (9.85km/6.1-mile) laps (via Redgorton and Battleby, click here for lap map). Road surfaces for the cycle are very “P&K”, with pothole and ‘draggy surface’ avoidance being a key skill on some sections. The major corners (esp that at the bottom of the Dryarch hill) have a tendency to be laden with gravel and demand respect after rain.
It’s something of an invited-all-comers race, in which a number of Perth’s cyclists, runners and triathletes have all been known to appear. Whilst the club trophies are presented to the fastest male and female PRR to complete both disciplines, two-person teams (both same-sex and mixed) are welcome, splitting the run and cycle between members.
The run-first approach tends to split the field before the bike leg, making a tactical/drafting/slipstreaming/cat-and-mouse cycle race pretty unlikely. But it’s not impossible, and it’s certainly allowed.
The course was not always at Pitcairngreen. As Neil Muir relates, “the original course started at the top of Neccesisity Brae; we ran out for 2 or 3 miles, then cycled out round Dunning, then back in via Forgandenny, Bridge of Earn into Perth finishing at the South Inch”.
There have been some alarmingly quick male winning times recorded over the current course: a 56-minute time (seconds unrecorded) in 2010 by Ewan Taylor is the current fastest (although Harvey Mackie’s 2023 1:10:34 stands as by far the best since). Ladies’ times are not well recorded across the ages, and there is no clear record time, although Anne Chisholm’s 1:14:31 stands out in recent years. The catalogue of winning times can be found here.
Above: The cast of PRR Duathlon 2023
Whilst bikes used tend to be of a racing variety, with high-tech TT frames and aerobars by no means unknown, any (unpowered) bike is allowed. Mountain bikes are not unknown for those unfussed by a more modest finishing time: we have yet to see competitors comp(l)ete on a Brompton, shopper, Grifter or Chopper, it is believed. Some competitors make the change from running shoes to cycle shoes; others don’t (often making use of good-old toe-clips to reduce transition times but still achieve a decent ‘grip’ on their pedals). Cycling helmets must be worn.
2023 Duathlon winners Harvey Mackie and Rhiannon Laing with race organiser Kevin Rogers
The evening, whilst competitive at the front end, has a distinctly social air. Large quantities of cake and chocolate are commonplace and the Pitcairngreen Inn is barely 100m from the start…
Previous results (such as we have)