A MEDAL-laden duathlete from Hucknall has landed a bitter-sweet success in his latest assault on the national championships.
For even though veteran Pete Orme scooped a silver medal in the prestigious event, he had to achieve it without his faithful training partner and trusty sidekick, Ben, his pet dog.
The 13-year-old collie/labrador cross died of liver cancer just weeks before the championships at Carsington Water, which is a Severn Trent reservoir in the Peak District in Derbyshire.
The death of Ben, who has run alongside Orme for several years, brought to an end one of the most endearing partnerships in local sport.
Now he has a new training ally in three-month old Kodi, who is a border collie.
Orme, of Wighay Road, has become one of the top competitors in the low-profile sport of duathlon, which combines running and cycling. He is one of the leading lights on the seniors’ stage in Europe.
At the national championships, known as the Ashbourne Duathlon, the 53-year-old took second spot in the 50-to-54-year-olds’ section.
He went on to dedicate the medal to Ben — and also reflected on missing out on gold by just six seconds.
“Obviously it is very sad that I have lost Ben,” said Orme.
“Ben and I had gone out on a 15-mile run together just a couple of weeks before he died and there was no sign of the illness.
“We were inseparable. But there was no question that I would still compete in the national championships. It was a tough course but I am pretty glad with how it went.
“I probably should have won the gold because as I entered the finishing stretch, the guy who won was really there for the taking. But I didn’t know he was the leader because his number had fallen off.
“I probably could have beaten him because I had bundles of energy left.”
The event at Carsington Water saw Orme take on up to 100 rivals in his age-group.
The gruelling challenge opened with a 12-kilometre run on a hilly course, followed by a 40-kilometre bike-ride and then a four-kilometre run.
Orme, who competes as a member of the Mansfield Tri club, completed the course in a total of two hours, 29 minutes and 28 seconds.
Second place was still a worthy achievement for Orme who, in 2010, thought his career was at an end because of a knee-cartilage problem. Doctors thought he might have to give up competitive sport.
The problem flared up while he was taking part in the World Duathlon Championship in Edinburgh, Scotland.
Orme would have been left to reflect on a career that had yielded a silver medal in the European Championships (50-to-54-year-olds’ category) in 2009.
But he bounced back with victory in a prestigious triathlion event (running, biking and swimming). Now he is looking forward to more medal success next season in duathlon when he moves up to the 55-to-60-year-olds’ age-group.