Claire’s steely determintaion earns her a first major win

Claire Steels in action.

Claire Steels in action.

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Bourne Town Harriers’ Claire Steels is in the form of her life after winning her first major duathlon competition in London at the weekend just months after taking up the sport.

The former Bourne Grammar School student, who only started training last October when she bought her first road bike, was eighth overall and first lady at the Velopark East London Duathlon on Sunday.

The victory marked her first duathlon title of the year since qualifying to represent Great Britain at this year’s World Championships in Adelaide in October, as well as at next year’s European Championships, both in the sprint distance.

Steels, who works as a personal trainer, said she was over the moon to win the race, which took place in the Olympic Park.

“The race consisted of a three mile run, a 15 mile bike ride and finished with another two mile run, but it was all over a one mile circuit that I covered 20 times,” she said.

“It required lots of concentration, especially on the bike. It was also a very technical course, with lots of corners and ups and downs, while all the time I was watching out for other runners and counting my own laps.”

She completed the gruelling challenge in an impressive 1:15:05, more than two minutes ahead of her nearest female competitor.

The psychology graduate is also an accomplished runner and hockey player, having captained the City of Peterborough Ladies’ first team for the last two years, but she is concentrating all of her energy outside of her job in the fitness industry into gaining a medal in Adelaide in her 25-29 age category.

The 28 year-old has even bigger goals beyond the world championships, though, as she highlighted the fact that she is currently the only British woman to qualify for both the sprint and standard distance events in Adelaide.

The sprint distance consists of a 5km run, a 20km ride and a 2.5km run, while the standard distance jumps up to a 10km run, a 40km ride and a 5km run.

Steels explained: “Next year I plan to step up to the standard distance, and try to compete as an elite. I genuinely believe this is something I am capable of doing if given the opportunity.

“However, in order to do this I need to increase my training load, and commit more time to training and recovery.

“With my current work load and commitments I am unable to dedicate more time to training unless I find external sponsorship and support. Duathlon is a minority sport, but is incredibly entertaining in the same way that triathlons are.”

If you would like to help Claire achieve her dream of reaching the podium at this year’s World Duathlon Championships in Adelaide, and ultimately become a professional duathlete, you can sponsor her at http://www.gofundme.com/ou58l8.