Dominating the Duathlon

Many of the Health and Exercise Studies (HES) Faculty have been extremely busy with traveling, training, and competing in the Duathlon World Championship in Pontevedra, Spain. More than 35 countries were represented, and among the thousands of athletes were NC State faculty members Randy Bechtolt, Sally Almekinders, and Renee Harrington.

“My friends and I won the National Flag Football Championships together and needed another goal to maintain fitness and camaraderie,” said Randy Bechtolt when asked about his motivation for racing. “I’ve raced 14 times and you can’t beat it,” noted Sally Almekinders, while reflecting on why she races. Almekinders explained she tries to take what she learns from each race back to her classes, aiming to inspire her students to experience the unique opportunity themselves. 

The HES team runs in the race

The team trained individually, some training five days a week for more than three months, beginning in January 2019. Bechtolt explained his training consisted of running two days a week for 30-60 minutes, and three days of bricks (running and biking), with each training session lasting 90-120 minutes. Almekinders explained that as she leads up to the race, she begins to practice more tactical race techniques and skills like cornering as part of her training. Harrington explained she also spends several weeks prior to the race preparing for the challenges of the particular terrain. This year, the bike course had steep hills and Harrington spent several weeks cycling more hilly terrain around Pilot Mountain. 

Despite injuries, the team achieved their goal of completing the Duathlon. Bechtolt suffered calf muscle strains that prevented him from running the 7 weeks leading up to the race. Sally explained that she experiences pain in her knee, but that does not stop her from achieving her goals and enjoying the race. The group overcame obstacles, and found themselves feeling empowered to meet their goal. In addition to common goals, each member had their own personal goals. Harrington noted, “My main goal in any race is to have fun and to do my best. This year I placed 4th, which I was very happy with. It gave me the desire to train even harder for the 2020 race in Almere, Netherlands”.  

Reflecting on the unique experience, Bechtolt described one of his most memorable moments from the trip: the Parade of Nations, which is similar to the Olympic Parade of Nations. “The moment you hear, ‘Now entering: United States of America’ — what an experience,” says Bechtolt. Harrington agreed, stating, “The Parade of Nations is always a very special experience. You walk in your parade uniform with the entire team along with the other countries”. Almekinders noted her favorite part about racing is the opportunity races give her to make and maintain meaningful friendships with people from different backgrounds who share a common passion. She explained she has friends from around the globe who she stays in contact with, and when she gets to see them at a race, it enriches the race experience. 

The race gave these HES staff motivation to continue to focus on their health, setting new and higher goals for the future.