Becoming a British duathlon champion is not the usual preparation for the Commonwealth Games, but Jo Patterson’s sporting journey has been far from orthodox.
The 34-year-old powered to victory at the British Duathlon Championships at Oulton Park in March to take victory in the 30-34 age group in a time of 01:54:42, before going on to represent Northern Ireland in the road cycling time trial in Birmingham just five months later.
Patterson entered the British Championships with few expectations, but put her success down to a competitive spirit which took over on race day.
There are a variety of triathlon, paratriathlon and multisport opportunities for British Triathlon Home Nation members to become national champion in 2023, as well as English, Scottish and Welsh Championship titles and medals on offer.
“It was quite unexpected,” said Patterson. “I was injured at the time. I hadn’t run for months before, so the run was a bit painful, but it was a nice surprise to win. I was holding on at the end.
“I was mostly doing cycling last year but a lot of the people I train with do triathlon, so they made a little trip out of it to go to Oulton Park.
“I always go into races with this competitive side wanting to win. I was a bit annoyed going into the duathlon with a foot injury, I didn’t even know if I could run and that put me off it a bit.
“But when you get on the start line, and you have a history of being competitive, you just switch everything off in the background and put everything you have into it.”
Patterson went on to finish 19th at the 2022 Commonwealth Games and knew her strengths lay on the bike, but perhaps should not have been so surprised by her strong running ability too.
Just under 12 years prior to her appearance in Birmingham, Patterson turned out at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi – this time on the track in the 200 and 400 metres, rather than on the bike.
While the longer distance of the duathlon contrasts from the sprints of her youth, Patterson’s former athletics career assisted her towards the final stages of her successful duathlon.
“I come from a running background years ago, so I was up for it,” she said. “After the bike, I realised I just needed to hold on for 5km.
“I knew I had caught everyone on the bike and on that second run I was stuttering quite badly.
“I wasn’t happy with my run, but it was good enough for the win. If anyone had come up behind me, I had nothing, but I managed to hold on.”
A busy year on the bike and the road was balanced alongside Patterson’s job as a GP in Lanarkshire, West Scotland, having left her native Northern Ireland to study.
Despite her hectic schedule, Patterson’s victory in Oulton Park has spurred her on to complete more events this year.
“I was born in England but then moved to Northern Ireland, that’s where my whole family are from,” said Patterson.
“I was in Bath for my first degree and then moved to Glasgow to do medicine and have stayed there since then – I’ve been here 15 years now.
“I joined a triathlon club a few years ago to get fit again. Due to Covid, it turned into all cycling because there weren’t many triathlons, but there were still some cycle events.
“My big focus was more cycling last year but the duathlon I decided to do as a social thing more than anything else.
“I did an IRONMAN at the end of last year and since then I’ve been doing more triathlon training. I’ve really upped my running and want to do some more duathlons and triathlons.”
Find out more about representing the Great Britain Age-Group Team and competing in British Age Group Championships on the link below: https://www.britishtriathlon.org/events/championships-and-qualifiers.