On 02 August 2008 at 00:00 | updated on 03 August 2008 at 14:35

Mans 2008 : Interview of the London Duo

Mans 2008 : Interview of the London Duo

Online-skating.com met the "London Duo" for you. They took the third place in the "24 Heures du Mans 2008". The members of this team are George Puttner and Craig Austin. Both men had the honor to be trained by Ghizlane Samir. They gave us their feelings on the training and the race...



Here is the interview of George Puttner, member of the "London Duo" with Craig Austin. Both finished in third position with only one less lap than the second team.

Why choosing to participate as Duo?

Both of us wanted to become fitter because we spent too much time working in 2007.
Around Christmas 2007 time we were drinking some beers and then decided to enter this race together - a goal six months into the future would be a great way to get us fit!

What was your previous long skating experience for your Duo?


You said "none", but you must certainly be quite goods skaters ?! Being on the podium in LeMans is not ordinary!

Craig has done 2-3 seasons as a speedskater with the London Speedskater team and has completed a lot of marathons.
I have done 3-4 marathons as a recreational skater and only started using 4x100 one year ago (before it was 4x80 on Salomon FSK!).
Both of us started skating about six years ago - and both of us were lead marshals on the Friday Night Skate in London, then both taught as inline instructors for two seasons. In 2007 we skated only little - that's why we became fat and wanted to become fit again :-) But neither of us had done any long-distance skating. I also did Le Mans in '06 and '07 but as part of a 10-person team.

How did you prepare this event?

We met with Hans Brown, who came 2nd in the LeMans Solo in 2006. Following his advice we engaged his girl-friend, who happens to be skater Ghizlane Samir, as our trainer and coach. We trained 5-6 times per week from February through to the race - doing a mix of skating, cycling, gym work and plyometrics. We had a mix of endurance and intervals training. We have to say that without Ghizlane's guidance we would have had no idea on how to train for this event - she did an amazing job for us - so thanks Ghizlane!
[8wd] I do much understand your 3rd place !

What kind of equipment did you choose?

Craig used custom speed skates. George used RollerBlade Marathon skates (4x100). Cycling tops and skin-tight shorts.

Have you been support by a staff?

We had one full-time pit crew member plus one other person that helped out for several hours.

Tell us about the start and the first few hours…

We started off strong - actually too strong. We started with 1hr shifts, then 1.5hr, 2hr, 2.5hrs and then down again.

During the 24h, did you eat, sleep?

We avoided the camping ground. On Friday night, Craig stayed in a hotel in Le Mans. George stayed with a friend in Paris. I think staying at the camp ground would be a bad idea because of all the noise and uncomfortable sleeping!
Sleep - after 10pm we tried to sleep as much as possible during our breaks - but our breaks were only 1hr, 1.5hr up to 2.5hrs in duration - after some eating, massage etc there was only little time left.
Eating - Craig used special Hammer nutritional products. I used some REGO Recovery and REGO GO! product. At the beginning we tried to eat as normal as possible - some pasta from the cafe, bananas, fruit cake and some muesli bars. We also drank a lot of water and George later drank orange juice. We bought a lot more food and then did not use it e.g. baby products!!

Did you manage to communicate between partners over the 24 hours?

Yes we had radios - but communication was very limited because the radios were not very good. We also passed messages via our support staff.

Did you find any support on the track?

Yes other skaters sometimes provided drafts when they noticed our green numbers (and our "London Duo" shirts) - this happened more often during the last few hours.

Tell us about the last hours and the finish...

It was tough. George had trouble with his lower back. Both of us were running low on energy. We were focused on catching the No.2 team.

Did you knew that the #2 was in a bad situation? Is it the reason you started thinking to catch them?

The No.2 team are friends of ours and we were in the same box as them. So we knew they were in trouble and we actually felt uncomfortable because they had a lot of bad luck. And we realize that we were gaining on them every hour. After some maths (difference in average lap time and time remaining to 24-hour mark) we realized it was going to be very close. In the end it was only 1 lap.
We were surprised about your team and the teams below - earlier in the race - maybe at 2 or 3am we were in 6th position and were trailing 3rd place by 4 or 5 laps. Then at 8am we were in 3rd position and had a 4-lap lead on 4th place (i.e. you!) - We could not understand how we managed to catch up so much - did you stop? Did you start too quickly?
Our lap times average started with 9:30 then 10:00 then 10:30-11:00 (for the last hours). Was there more variation in your lap time?
[8wd] my team was never behind you, but two French top team stop around 4 am, while they were 3rd and 4t.

Did you kept to the planned strategy?

Our strategy was quite simple in terms of shifts. Yes we kept the strategy. We didn't know what lap times to expect so that was difficult. We both started faster than we had planned.

In a general way, I'm surprise not to read too much difficulties in your words, that's all I wish for you, but the race seems to be difficult for many other! Or maybe just in the last hours?

It was difficult but we managed okay. But we did do a LOT of preparation - five months of hard training!

What will you remember (the best and the worst) of this first Duo edition?

Getting on the podium for 3rd place - getting help from other skaters and UK teams - no worst memories!

Have you other long skating project to come?

I will be entering the Duo again in 2009 and also a 101k race in August. Craig will focus on kite-surfing.
I will go to the 101k race because I like the long-distance now - and 101k should be "easy" compared to 70 laps of Le Mans !


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Photo gallery - Roller-NumeriqueInterview : 8wd
Pictures: Roller-numerique.net
Released  on 02 August 2008 - Read 7699 times

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