When I am not teaching Pilates and running around as a busy mum, I compete in Biathle and Biathlon events. I competed at county and national level swimming as a youngster and was a pretty good runner, so this combination was a great way for me to return to sport as a masters athlete after the birth of my little girl.
What is Biathlon?
Biathle and Biathlon are events under the pentathlon umbrella. Modern pentathlon comprises five diverse sports: swimming, fencing, horse riding, running, and shooting. Biathle is a subset of modern pentathlon and is a continuous sprint run-swim-run competition. My strengths are in quicker events and I love a good sprint. I am definitely not planning any Ironman triathlons any time soon!
As a 43-year-old, I am classed as a masters competitor. The distance for me is 1200m run, 100m swim, and then another 1200m run. I am part of the Northwest Pentathlon Hub and compete in a series of competitions locally and also events nationally within the GB Biathle series. Whilst I would love to train weekly with my club under our coaches Dr Nic Rowley and Richard Hannam, my schedule often does not allow this, so I have to schedule my training around being a mum and running a business.
How to train for Biathle/Modern Biathlon
This year, I have focused on strength training, hill sprints and sprint sessions in the pool. When I get 20-30 minutes in my day to train, I have to make it count! I also practise Pilates and make sure I eat well to fuel my body and mind.
The run section of a Biathle race is often a trail run, followed by a quick transition to open water for the 100m swim. It's a fast event with little room for error. The transition from the fast runs and then fast swim is tough. Our coach gives us lots of training on quick transitions, as this is often where you win or lose the race.
Qualifying for the Modern Biathlon Championships
In 2018, I qualified for the European Biathle Championships in Germany and was pleased to get 5th place. This was my first taste of competing at that level and it inspired me to aim higher in 2019. Thankfully, I've had an injury-free year and my local races went really well. I was pleased to win the Northwest Masters Women series again this year.
In August, the British Biathle Championships were held at Salford Quays, Manchester. This was a great race and although every step of the last run hurt, it was a great time for me and I was pleased to get the gold. Winning this race meant I qualified for the World Biathle Championships in Florida, but I was unable to go this year. I aim to get to the World Champs in 2020!
The Biathle season finishes in September and then it is time to focus on Modern Biathlon. This event is a track run and pool swim (as opposed to the trail run and open water swim of Biathle). In the masters category, we run 1600m and the swim is 100m. Again, it is all about the sprint and earning as many points as you can from each event. The faster you go, the more points you get!
I qualified for the 2019 British Modern Biathlon Championships held in Nottingham . Although I felt really tired going into the event, I was determined to retain my title from 2018.
British Modern Biathlon Championships Race Report
I went out fast on the run and felt good up until the third lap. My legs started to feel heavy and I felt I had nothing left in the tank. I managed to hold on and win, but gosh it was tough! I was 20 seconds down on my PB, so I knew I wasn’t firing on all cylinders.
After a quick re-fuel, it was time for the swim. I was a breaststroke specialist in my youth, so although freestyle is not my favourite stroke, I can still pull off a reasonable swim. Again, I was pleased to win, but was 3 seconds down on my best.
Even though I was disappointed with my points, I was so pleased to win. It really is a great feeling to still be able to achieve things like this as a masters athlete. My sport is so welcoming and everyone supports each other. I love having a focus to my training and when I compete it is a bit of ‘me’ time.
I am a true competitor and love a good race. I cannot wait to see what 2020 brings. Each year I set myself some realistic goals and then review my progress at the end of the year. I would urge anyone who loves sport to keep going…. never let anyone tell you it is too late! I am more determined now and achieving more than I ever did in my teens.
Thank you to all at Sundried for your continued support. I absolutely love the ethically-produced clothing. It is superb quality, design and fit. I am proud to represent Sundried. Bring on 2020!
About the author: Ruth Hoyle is a competitive athlete, Sundried ambassador, and owns the fitness business Exercise Angels.