KATHY Stringer said she surprised herself with the performance that won her the national duathlon title.

The 29-year-old former Vale Royal Athletics Club competitor was not feeling fully confident about her 10k running levels heading into the Triathlon England Standard Distance Duathlon Championships at the Croft Circuit in North Yorkshire but she need not have worried.

Comberbach-based Stringer, the world championships silver medallist last year, finished five minutes clear of her nearest rival at the end of the 10k run, 38k cycle and 5k run to take the women's overall prize.

Stringer, a former student of Hartford High School, said: "I managed to execute a great race and surprised myself in many ways.

"I genuinely went into the race dreading the 10k. I didn't feel confident in my ability to execute a fast 10km at all and had no idea what to expect pace-wise.

Northwich Guardian: Kathy Stringer on her way to becoming national duathlon champion. Picture: VSP ImagesKathy Stringer on her way to becoming national duathlon champion. Picture: VSP Images

"But I set off and found myself in a rhythm that didn't feel too uncomfortable.

"It was one of those moments during a race where you look at your km splits and think 'I should slow down before I crash' but my legs were saying something different.

"Unfortunately the course was just shy of 10km but had it have been the full distance, it would have been a big 10km personal best for me – a bitter sweet end but a confidence boost nonetheless!

Northwich Guardian:

"Then on to the bike and I knew the course well from the previous year and it's one that I enjoy because you head out onto open roads which keeps your mind focused. I beat my previous time.

"After giving it my all in the first two segments, I didn't have much left for the final 5k but it was a flat, fast course and I dug deep to come in with a sub 20-minute run – a time that would have been a PB two years ago.

"It's rare when things all come together and go well on race day, but I'm so pleased it did because my confidence needed it.

"I'm looking forward to the rest of the season now and to see what else can happen. Hopefully I can keep surprising myself!"

Stringer is not about to start taking things easy after her first big event of the year.

On Friday she is joining a friend on tackling an item on her bucket list – LEJOG, cycling from Land's End in Cornwall to John o' Groats in Scotland.

She has planned a route and booked accommodation around a plan of pedalling an average 100km per day on a two-week break from work.

"We've decided to take it fairly steady and treat it like a holiday rather than a challenge, so have planned a scenic route to take in as much of the countryside and landscapes as possible."

She ran at national level for Vale Royal in her teens.

The former 800m track runner, who won medals in the English Cross Country Relays Championships with Vale Royal teammates in 2006 and 2008, only completed her first duathlon in 2016 when she had been encouraged to do so by a fellow student at university.