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Arresting display from PCSO Lucy Minns earns Euro place

Police Station, Bishops Stortford. New PCSOs. Lucy Minns. Pic: Vikki Lince
Police Station, Bishops Stortford. New PCSOs. Lucy Minns. Pic: Vikki Lince

A Stortford PCSO will represent Team GB at the Duathlon European Championships in Romania next summer.

Lucy Minns at the Bedford Autodrome Duathlon
Lucy Minns at the Bedford Autodrome Duathlon

Lucy Minns, 22, joined the Bishops’ Stortford Safer Neighbourhood Team (SNT) last November, after she moved to the area from Lancashire.

The PCSO - who covers Bishop’s Stortford South - has always been an able track runner but decided that she wanted to branch out compete in triathlons. Luckily for her, SNT Inspector Chris Hunt is a level 2 triathlon coach, and he volunteers at WaldenJNR club training teens aged 14-17.

During the past three years, Chris has coached some phenomenally gifted youngsters, including brothers Jack and Charlie Stanton-Stock – who each won gold medals in the UK School Games at Loughborough University in September 2018.

Over the four-day contest, the school games featured multiple sports. Jack, 16, topped the podium for ‘individual triathlon,’ while Charlie, 18, a para-athlete who has Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease - a degenerative condition that causes muscle weakness in the feet, ankles and legs - won the mixed relay race.

Lucy Minns at the Bedford Autodrome Duathlon
Lucy Minns at the Bedford Autodrome Duathlon

After teaching youngsters for three years, Chris decided he wanted to expand his expertise and begin coaching adults. One month ago, he started coaching Lucy, along his wife, Nicola Hunt – a regular competitor in the London marathon who also works for Hertfordshire Constabulary as part of the East Herts Rural Team.

The trio set their sights on the Bedford Autodrome Duathlon on Sunday, October 14 – a qualifier race for the European Championships - a 5k run, followed by a 20k bike ride, trailed by a second run, of 2.5k.

To get Lucy and Nicola duathlon ready, Chris would get them to run a one-mile loop around Matching Green, then cycle their bikes around the same circuit twice, then run the route once more. Lucy and Nicola would have a short break, before doing the whole exercise three more times.

Lucy and Nicola also did turbo training with Chris; the duo would pedal on stationary bikes, then run, then pedal, and run, and so on, to get their muscles used to the sensation of a change in exercise.

Unfortunately for Nicola, she sustained an injury before the Bedford qualifier, but she and Chris both took Lucy up to Bedford on the day of the race to cheer her on. “I felt like I was going on holiday,” Lucy grinned. “I wasn’t thinking about qualifying. I was so excited on the day, I wasn’t nervous at all.”

Lucy had never competed in a duathlon, but she did remarkably well; she achieved a new personal best time in her 5k run – 19 minutes and 35 seconds. “Lucy’s strong point is running,” Chris said. “Transition is something we’ve got to work on.”

The stage between the end of the run and the start of the cycle was one of the harder parts of the race for Lucy; she had to locate her pushbike in the transition area, in amongst hundreds of others.

To make matters even more challenging, Lucy also had to contend with torrential downpours, strong winds and chilling temperatures. “It was absolutely belting it down with rain,” Chris said. “two people crashed because conditions were so poor. Several people at the end had to have medical treatment, because it was so cold.”

But Lucy managed to average a speed of 18.5mph on her bike, finishing that segment of the race in 38 minutes and 50 seconds.

When she came to do her final run, Lucy was freezing cold. “I got a dead leg and it just collapsed,” she said.

But Lucy was able to finish her run in a sprint; she overtook another racer just before the finish line and came fourth in her age category – to get a qualify in the European Championships, she needed to finish in the top four. The woman she overtook missed out on a qualifier spot by just seven seconds.

“I wasn’t thinking about qualifying, I was just happy to finish the race,” Lucy said. “The feeling you get when you cross the finish line is unbelievable.”

It was Nicola who spotted that Lucy had cinched the qualifying spot, and the team were elated, and Lucy called her parents to let them know the good news. “I was so happy to have done it,” she said.

Next summer, Lucy will travel to the European Championships in Târgu Mureș in Romania. The Duathlon is will be one of many competitions taking place between June 30 and July 7.

Nicola also has a challenge of her own to look forward to; she is taking part in the London marathon next April. While she has competed in this race many times before, this year will be special. Her and Chris’ 18-year-old daughter, Annabel Hunt, a Bishop’s Stortford College Student, has also secured a place in the race.

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