DARREN Chaplin has set himself a target of finishing in the top 10 after qualifying for the European Long Distance Duathlon Championships for the second year in a row.
The Basildon athlete, who works as a postman on a day-to-day basis, was Europe’s 20th quickest competitor in his age group when he represented Great Britain in the same event in Copenhagen last year.
Chaplin is now looking forward to donning the Great Britain jersey again, when the 2017 European Long Distance Duathlon Championships are held in Sankt Wendel, Germany, on May 21.
But Chaplin, who trains at Basildon Sporting Village, also has his eye on bagging a place in the Great Britain team for the Sprint World Championships, which will be held in Canada in August.
Chaplin said: “Qualifying for the European Championships two years in a row is a fantastic achievement.
“I’m also aiming for the Sprint World Championships in Canada, in August, but funding the trip could be a big issue.
“I feel much fitter, faster and stronger than last year and the training all year round is paying off. I train pretty much everyday before or after work.”
The European Long Distance Duathlon Championships will see Chaplin take on a formidable course.
Chaplin, who has been a duathlete for three years, will start the race by competing in a 10km run.
This will then be followed by travelling 60km by bike, before completing the race with another 10km run.
Chaplin qualified for the event after impressing in the Powerman Spain event, which was held in Mallorca.
The duathlete came 10th in the 40-44 age group to qualify for the event.
Chaplin, who is currently sponsored by Royal Mail but is looking for more sponsors, was pleased with his performance on a challenging course.
“I was over the moon with the 10th place finish in my age group,” added Chaplin.
“I started the race with the elite athletes on the start line and the conditions were tough.
“Strong winds battered the coastline and waves were crashing into the sea walls and spraying water, seaweed and some debris on to parts of the run course.
“The bike course was tough due to the strong winds on some long open sections of road so to race well and get a great result like that was huge.
“I ran a massive personal best of 38 minutes 42 seconds for the first 10km. I then hit the bike hard, hitting 59kmph in a tough windy drag.
“I struggled with the last 10km, as I took 49 minutes to complete it.
“There is still plenty of room for improvement and I need to work on the last run and lose another four or five minutes.”