Bailey sets sights on world duathlon gold

Dan Bailey has glory at the ITU Powerman Long Distance Duathlon World Championships in his sights after missing out ona gold medal in 2011
Dan Bailey has glory at the ITU Powerman Long Distance Duathlon World Championships in his sights after missing out ona gold medal in 2011
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If he had time to dream, Dan Bailey would see himself standing on top of the world – with a gold medal around his neck.

It’s fair to say, though, sleep is not the priority right now as the Victory AC talent is putting in the hard yards, and then some, in a determined effort to achieve his top goal – first place in the most prestigious duathlon on the planet.

Every year the world’s top endurance athletes gather in the beautiful setting of Zofingen, Switzerland, near the Swiss Alps.

They aren’t there for sightseeing – far from it.

This is the setting for the ITU Powerman Long Distance Duathlon World Championships.

It’s an event rated by some finishers as tougher than the iconic Ironman triathlon in Hawaii.

The duathlon starts with a 10k run before the transition to a 150k bike ride and then a 30k run to finish.

To add to the pain, the bike section includes some brutal climbs, with a total elevation gain of 1,600m and gradients hitting 16 per cent.

Bailey lined up for the event back in 2011 when, at just 19, he picked up an impressive silver medal in the 20-24 age-group category.

He’ll be representing Great Britain again in September of this year, and the 21-year-old believes he can go one better and return home with the gold medal.

Bailey said: ‘I’m feeling confident that a gold is within my grasp.

‘The fact I’m improving gives me confidence.

‘I don’t see a reason why I can’t go and get gold. That’s my aim.

‘When I did it in 2011 I was 19, but they take your age at the end of the year and I turned 20 in the November, so I went into the 20-24 category.

‘They said then I was the youngest podium finisher they have ever had.

‘This year I could be the youngest winner.’

Bailey’s resolve to get gold is fed by a tinge of disappointment from the 2011 race.

It was an amazing battle for the medal positions, with the top three in the age category all finishing within nine minutes of each other – after more than seven hours of gruelling competition.

Bailey was leading the way on the third and final section.

But the course at Zofingen, in the heart of Switzerland, is unforgiving and takes no prisoners.

On the 3k downhill finish of the final run, Bailey’s knee locked up and he crumpled to the ground.

It was a hugely painful experience, as home favourite Jan Baumgartner then overtook him and went on to secure victory in a time of 7hr 17min 47sec.

Bailey picked himself up and managed some running repairs to complete the course in a time of 7:23.15.

That was three minutes ahead of third-placed Adam Milne, from New Zealand.

‘The time gaps were really close for a long-distance event like this. It’s like a sprint finish between us,’ said Bailey.

‘I suffered a knee injury on the last part of the course in 2011 and fell to the ground.

‘My knee just locked up and that’s when I lost the gold medal position I was in. That was disappointing.

‘The Swiss guy overtook me. He told me the next guy was close behind so I knew I had to get up and battle on.

‘I was quite pleased I managed to get back up and finish in second place.

‘Last time I went into it blind. This time I have full knowledge of the course and I should improve by five to 10 per cent because of that. I will know where I need to put my effort in.

‘In the run and bike ride last time, I went out all-guns blazing and paid for it a bit.

‘The first 10k run is two laps of 5k and you climb for the first 2k on each lap.

‘On the second run you head up to the national park.

‘It’s a really good atmosphere and the last part is all downhill.

‘My plan is not to push too hard for the first 10k – I will aim for around 33 minutes.

‘In 2011, I did the bike section in four hours and 25 minutes, so I’m now aiming for 4.20 or better.

‘Then I will be hoping for between two hours and two hours 10 minutes for the last 30k run.’

Bailey, who comfortably won the 2013 Portsmouth Coastal Half Marathon, has felt more at home running long distances, ever since he finished his first marathon at the age of 15.

As well as running twice a day and clocking up the miles on the bike, he also works full-time and is studying for a law degree.

It may be an overused cliche in sporting terms but Bailey is a firm believer that you get out what you put in.

He said: ‘I am better suited to the long slogs rather than the fast flat-out runs.

‘Since I won the Portsmouth Coastal Half Marathon earlier this year, I’ve been quite busy.

‘In April, I did the national elite duathlon championships up at Loughborough and finished 20th there.

‘That was a good leg warmer for me but it was so short – a 5k run, 20k on the bike and then a 2.5k run to finish.

‘It was over and done with before I’d even warmed up.

‘I ran a 10-miler in Bournemouth and I’ve set a new personal best for 10k – 33.16 – so it shows I’m improving.

‘On Saturday mornings I train at the Mountbatten Centre with a group of local fast runners.

‘We meet at 6.30am and then do five to 10 lots of 1k reps on the track.

‘Then I’m the only one stupid enough to get in my car and go off and do a parkrun at 9am.

‘That’s good training for me.

‘People say to me “isn’t it boring?”

‘But putting in the hard work for something you enjoy and something you want to do does work.

‘I know that every session I do counts towards the final goal.’