Austin Tri-Cyclist Blog

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Race Report from 2014 Du Worlds
Pontevedra, Spain

William Jabour set out in early 2013 to qualify for the ITU Duathlon World Championships with no expectations for the race beyond getting there. He'd competed on and off again in multisport events since 2004, but this was the first time he had a specific goal. In the course of a year of dedicated training, he found the sport taking on new meaning and importance. He began accomplishing things he never would have imagined possible.

Securing his spot in the top 18 at U.S. Nationals in Tucson in October 2013, William joined the ranks of Team USA to represent the nation at the world championships in Pontevedra, Spain. On June 1, 2014, he competed against the best duathletes from around the world in the 10K run/40K bike/5K run, placing 28th in the 50-54 age group and experiencing one of the most exhilarating runs of his life.

William is one of the few people you'll meet in Austin who is actually from here; born and raised a local, he remembers when the city was still 400,000 people and you didn't have to go far to find a cow pasture. He was a truck driver for most of his career, with gigs that varied from hauling Indy 500 race cars to carrying stage equipment or film sets cross-country for movie studios and celebrity bands. A one-man traveling show who competed in multisport for fun and general fitness, he would  park the rig, take his bike out, and compete in a race in a town he was passing through. At 46 years old, he fulfilled the lifelong dream of becoming a firefighter and is currently working for the Liberty Hill and Manchaca fire departments. Unassuming but also highly driven and competitive, William is a nice guy and a top-notch athlete who ATC is proud to be associated with.

After putting in all that hard work day after to day to meet a goal and far surpassing the original target, some people might add a checkmark to the bucket list and put the bike back in the garage. William, however, is already looking ahead to the 2015 world championships in Adelaide, Australia. Next month, he'll compete at nationals in St. Paul to qualify. From there, he'll have more than a year to put his nose to the grindstone and improve his times. In Australia, he hopes to shave off nine minutes and finish somewhere in the top five to ten places. "Single digits for sure," he says.

Du Worlds Race Report from William Jabour

Arriving in Pontevedra
Team USA members, William Jabour at far right.
My flight to Spain was pretty easy, and I did not suffer much jet lag. Once I got to my small 10x10 foot room I headed out on the town to see where things were. The first two days there were wet and cold to me at 50 degrees. On Thursday morning I met with a Team USA group to run the course for the first time, and of course it was cold and wet. The run course starts off with a pretty good climb from the stadium by the water, but once we got to the top it was fast and downhill through old town Pontevedra, and I knew the four loops would be my best 10K on race day.

The next day I had the chance to ride the bike course with a police escort and about 800 athletes from all countries. Riding the bike any other time proved difficult and dangerous because of traffic. ITU changed the bike course around two days before, and now it was going to be two loops with a cat 4 climb of six plus miles. It didn't seem too bad on that day at an easy 4mph, but race day was a different story, as many sufferings took place.

On Saturday, the day before the race, I left from my hotel in Marin, which was one town over from the race start. I went for a ride along the coast, some of the most beautiful I have ever seen. The road went up and down along the water through towns and hills, and in truth, it was a lot more climbing than I'd wanted. I had to force myself to turn around knowing I had a race the next day. I'm guessing I also walked six or seven miles a day before the race sightseeing and messing about, but I was in Spain so I was going to enjoy it, which was the case with everybody.

One competitor from Hawaii got his bike dragged down the tarmac at the airport and destroyed. He thought his race was over, but when he went to the local bike shop to package it and send it back home, it turned into a cool story. Javier Gomez, world champion triathlete from Pontevedra, insisted on him using one of his bikes, so he was able to race on that.

To sum it up, the first few days were just a lot of meeting people and checking out the town. For me, the coffee lover, a lot of that was over croissants and pastries. I also found out that in Europe dinner is not served till at least 8 p.m. I met so many cool people that now I guess I'll be forced to use Facebook more to stay in touch.

Team USA gets interviewed by Spanish TV station.
Race Day
Bike check-in was the day before. I liked getting that out of the way. And the race didn't start till noon on Sunday, which I also liked.

My butterflies started days before, which doesn't usually happen to me, but it was Worlds. After not much of a warmup, it was time for my age group to go. I was in 50-54, though I'm still 49. My coach Gray Skinner had a plan for me, and I stuck to it. He has been coaching me for almost a year now and has totally changed me from where I was at the beginning. (Thanks Jeff Shelton and Jack Mott for pushing me into getting coached.) There were about 60 athletes in my age group, and it seemed all wanted to go out at a  five-minute pace, but I stuck to around 5:50 for mile one, then settled around 6:20, and by loop three out of four most of my competition was coming back while I was feeling better. I ran my best 10K at around 40:07.

I was happy to get on my bike with confidence because of the 10 months of suffering Gray had put me through. I knew it was my time to shine, and by the second 13-mile loop and the second 6-mile cat 4 climb when many were slowing and cramping on the side of the road, I was feeling good at 1/10 of a mile faster.

I went back down the hill for the last time at 44mph into transition for the final run. It was a bit of a slow start due to both hamstrings cramping. Proving there is another whole level of pain I can push through, I got faster. Running through the streets with the crowds and all the different countries and people cheering me on was one of the most emotional experiences I have ever had. I believe I had tears in my eyes for most of that 5K. All the hard work in the last year came down to these last miles and an experience I will never forget, my first world championship but not my last.

In my age division, I finished 28th in the world and 5th in the USA. The first guy in my division from the U.S. was about four minutes faster and 18th in the world. I was off of second, third, and fourth place male finishers from the U.S. by less than 75 seconds.

July 19 is U.S. nationals in St. Paul and the qualifier for worlds in Australia in October 2015 . I was blessed in Spain, and I feel I will do well in St. Paul and be one of the top guys in my division. I'm ready for the long road to Australia.

I'd like to send heartfelt thanks to the people who've made it all possible. Thanks to my coach, Gray Skinner of Enlightened Performance, for his confidence in me and for pushing me through the months to achieve another level and to accomplish my goals. I  look forward to years to come with him. Thanks to Don and Missy Ruthven and all the staff at Austin Tri-Cyclist for all the help and support they have given me, not only for this race but through all the years, and for making sure I'm always on the best equipment. Thanks to Liberty Hill and Manchaca fire departments and BA Tools for the financial support they gave me, and I can't forget my friends and family who have shared this experience with me. Thank you all!

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