I was drafted in last minute to host the standard distance Snowdonia Triathlon due to fellow race buddy Ross carrying an injury. This wasn’t an issue as I had signed up to race this event anyway! Having completed what was the Snowman sprint for the previous two years, I had some idea of what to expect from the new format and was excited to tackle the longer distance. This race was very much a training race for me as I look to build towards my first half-iron later in the year.
The alarm went off at 5:00am on Sunday morning and I felt remarkably fresh. I always struggle to eat at this time of morning but know it’s so important to fuel up, especially before racing for what I’d estimated as just over 3 hours! After breakfast we assembled our bikes and headed into transition. The weather was perfect, not a breath of wind and reasonably mild too – great for racing. As we started racking up in transition it became apparent that the weather was a little too perfect – the midges were out in force! Following a quick safety brief, all male athletes were ushered into the water ready for wave 1.
The water was a balmy 16 degrees which, for Snowdonia, is positively tropical! However, having swum in a lake that was 24 degrees the week before the water did feel a bit fresh. The first 200m was a bit of a sprint to find some clear water, but once the initial melee calmed down I found some feet to follow and settled into a rhythm. The swim was reasonably easy to sight on the way to the far buoy, but after the turnaround the sun was just at the wrong height and made it tricky to see.
Out of the water and I quickly peeled off the arms of my wet suit. The run to transition is always a bit of a blur for me as I regather my bearings; you’ve just had 15 minutes of pretty much silence in a lake and suddenly you’re thrust amongst a number of spectators cheering and the sounds of the race commentary. It sounds strange, but I always set myself the target of having one of the fastest first transitions. It’s so easy to lose a minute here and there which can impact where you finish, particularly at the top end of the race. Wet suit off, helmet and glasses on, grab my bike and go! I got out of transition in 52 seconds, the 6th fastest time of the day, and hopped on my bike ready for the 60km that lay ahead.
Having driven the route the day before I had a good idea of what to expect from the bike – hills! The first 8km consisted of quite a long drag and a steeper section up to the top of the Pen-y-Pass. Usually I use the first 5km on the bike to get settled after the swim and bring my heart rate down to a more manageable level. Instead, I was focused on pushing some good power numbers early on here as I knew I could lose a bit of time on this first hilly section. The main positive of climbing up the Pen-Y-Pass is getting to do the 5km descent down into Llanberis. I had a clear run, with no cars, so got up some good speed – I think my top speed was about 65km/h, or 40mph for those that way inclined. For the rest of the bike leg I focused on holding a power I knew I could sustain, and riding on feel up the hills. I must say chapeau to Suzie Richards, the eventual winner of the women’s race, who passed me at about 40km on the bike– despite the 5 minute head start I had on her!Similar to the bike, the run was not flat! The first 500m climbed quite sharply out of transition, across the road and onto a clearly defined trail. I decided to run this completely on feel, in contrast to the majority of my races where I fixate on my pace per kilometer. These types of races are so challenging it’s not worth worrying about what time you are doing – unless of course you want to beat your time from the previous year! My quads were feeling quite tight at the start of the run, not helped by the fact the first 3km was mostly uphill. I focused on chasing down those I could see in front of me. At the turnaround point I started to feel more relaxed and tried to encourage as many people as I could that were running in the opposite direction. At about 8km the course takes you back past transition and up onto the climb of Moel Siabod. Having done the sprint race before, I knew that this last climb would be a real sting in the tail – although luckily we wouldn’t be going too far up the mountain this time!
After a bit of walking, some running for the TV camera, and a fast descent back to the finish I crossed the line in a time of 3 hours 8 minutes 17 seconds. 18th place overall and 12th in my age group – a tough, but good day out!
Thanks to Always Aim High for another great event. I have to say, the events that form the adventure series are some of my favourite that I do and are always first on my racing calendar. They are all very well organised with a welcoming, friendly atmosphere for those crossing the line in first right the way through to the last. Thanks to Race Force for letting me host the event, it’s always great fun encouraging others whilst wearing the team colours. Special mention to Kate who raced the Savage (sprint and full) event across both days and came 2nd overall, despite the sad passing of her Dad the week before.
Next step in Race Force colours is my first half-iron, the Rubicon in September. I think I may need a bit of encouragement to get around this one so I hope to see you there.
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February 24, 2017
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