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Double gold as North Rode sportswoman takes world title

A North Rode sportswoman struck gold twice for Great Britain among the forests of Romania, to be crowned world champion.

Karen Heppenstall picked up the accolades in the women’s 45-49 age group when she competed in the cross duathlon and cross triathlon at the world championships in Transylvania.

The duathlon comprised a trail run, followed by mountain biking before finishing off with a run. Two days later, she swam, cycled and ran to victory in the triathlon.

Mrs Heppenstall said: “I put so much into it – my heart and soul – into training and racing, so it’s really nice to get payback. It’s really special.

“It took a really long time for it to sink in that I was a world champion, certainly after the first race because I was more focused on making sure I was recovered and ready to go again for the next.

“It wasn’t until I got home and saw my friends and work colleagues that I registered it all, as they were overwhelmed and astonished by what I’d done.”

The world champion said she put in between eight and 15 hours of training a week.

“It’s all about fitting it around work, but the response I get from other people is what makes it more special,” she added.

Two hundred athletes in various age groups competed in the race, set in steep woodland, close to Targu Mures – a city 80 miles from Bran Castle, home of the title character in Bram Stoker’s Dracula.

It is not the first time Mrs Heppenstall has become a world-beater. In 2011, she clinched gold in cross-country orienteering, in which competitors must navigate a course with a compass to find checkpoints in a specific order before reaching the finish line.

She explained that after 10 years she had gone as far as she could in that sport and decided to take up cycling, which she did for another 10 years before starting to compete in duathlons and triathlons.

On Sunday, Mrs Heppenstall won the national series race for cross-country mountain biking.

“I want to continue and keep training and keep working to stay in the Great Britain age group team,” she said.

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