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Sorry to say I can't runDoes anyone need a space?
Hi all, just a reminder that I still have a place for Snowdonia Marathon if anyone needs it.
Hope your brother's 100th goes well tomorrow TR - enjoy the trading estates of Abingdon ;->
What was the story at the Cotswold Way - always fancied that but would need to do some proper hill work.
This duathlon was being held alongside the Extremely
Brutal Triathlon (ironman distance) organised by the very friendly Brutal
Events organisation. I was missing out
the 2.4-mile swim in the choppy and frigid Llyn Padarn, and just doing the
112-mile bike and marathon run, in the format run-bike-run. Others were doing the double and triple
distance triathlons also on offer. My
event was the one for novices and only 10 had entered.
At registration and briefing Friday evening there were
a lot of frightening T-shirts (on even more frightening looking torsos) with
’Deca’ or logos about desert grand slams on them. I was trying to look good in my 10 Peaks
Brecon Beacons shirt, but felt slightly out of place. I had previously emailed the organisers with
some basic questions for newbies and not had an answer, and I certainly wasn’t
going to ask them in the presence of this lot!
On Saturday some very serious-looking triathletes from
all across Europe started assembling in good time for the 0700 start. They had arrived with all their kit neatly
arranged in one or more giant Tupperware boxes.
Transition was in a marquee and the idea was to grab a chair and lay
everything out in the order you would need it, on the chair and in front of
it. Enormous amounts of high quality kit
were on display. I had one small sports holdall with everything in it all
jumbled up, mostly old stuff.
But it was the bikes that really did it. There was a
small compound for racking your bike and the range of expensive machines in
there defied belief. All carbon of
course with flashy ‘S Works’ or similar emblazoned on them, aerodynamic wheels,
tri bars, an amazing variety of water bottle holders and drinks reservoirs,
electronic gear shifters, the lot. Some
had time trial bikes with disc rear wheels.
I had my trusty Giant SCR1 road bike, generally considered good for winter
training. I had bought it earlier in the
year for £300 including shoes that the guy had thrown in with it. I racked it gingerly between two £6000
machines, being careful not to scratch them.
I did a quick mental calculation and reckoned that there must have been
nearly £1 million worth of bikes in that compound. There was this bloke on a
chair at the entrance to it, guarding them.
All races, triathlons and duathlons, started at the
same time. Due to very strong winds and
difficult conditions for the safety crew in their kayaks, the race start was
put off until 0800 and then 0900. It had
been dry earlier but at 0905 just after starting the first of three, five-mile
laps round Llyn Padarn it hammered down and we were all instantly soaked to the
skin. There were intermittent heavy
showers all day but it was the wind that was the hardest thing to cope with. The initial run went well but after only one
lap most people went off to the get their bikes. These were the half distance duathletes. (Half distance was another option for both,
but I hadn’t considered this.) Only ten
runners were left on the course, and eight of those had disappeared over the
horizon. I fell in at the back with
another runner who, if anything, was even less prepared than me, although he
had recently done a 300-mile bike event …
At the end of the second lap he developed cramp and I had to leave him. In the end he DNF’d three-quarters of the way
round the bike course.
15 miles of running done in an easy 2:57, change into
cycling kit, and off to try to find my bike.
Needn’t have worried – there were hardly any bikes left in the
compound. All runners and nearly all
triathletes were already on the bike course.
Only those doing the 7.2-mile swim were still in the lake.
The course was similar to the SNOD marathon in the
opposite direction, only instead of going up to Bwlch-y-groes it stays on the
main road north out of Llanberis and takes a left at Llanrug up a hilly road to
Waunfawr. Also it stays on the road between marathon miles 8 and 6 instead of
that offroad section. So it was four
Now I had done a lot of preparation for this bike leg.
It had consisted of one 60-mile ride. How
hard can it be? It’s a sitting down
sport! At the end of the first lap I was
already feeling it. From the point where
the road leaves the shore of Llyn Gwynant all the way to Pen-y-pass it’s a
constant 4-mile uphill grind with no let up at all. I wasn’t going to call into
transition, but I needed to stop to lower my saddle, and collect my mitts which
I had forgotten. While I was in the tent
I filled up my bottles, had a cup of tea from the self-service urn, and
generally faffed about. 25 minutes soon
went by. Back out onto the road. Every other rider whooshed by in aero
position. They all seemed to have a
higher cadence than me but also be going much faster than me. I couldn’t work it out. One even called out, advising me to use a
higher cadence. I replied that I was
already in my lowest but one gear and I was saving the lowest for emergencies.
Halfway round this lap it was gel time only I couldn’t
open it whilst riding. I pulled over,
only I couldn’t seem to unclip quickly enough.
All right, I’ll lean left and lean on the wall. The bike however decided to lean right and I
landed in a heap in the road. “Oops-a-daisy”,
said an ironman flashing by. After this
or perhaps because of this I started having gear problems and found the second
and third lowest gears when on the small ring were no longer working. It was a pity, because I needed them for all
these hills. Soon afterwards when
changing up to the big ring I found the chain kept coming off. The first time it did this I was doing a fast
descent down the Llanberis Pass, still on lap 2.
There was a mobile bike mechanic on the course and if
I had come across him I would have asked for help but I wasn’t going to call
him specially. Just soldier on. Another long period of faffing in the tent
and out onto the third lap. I was
getting really tired by now but somehow found some second wind from
somewhere. Grinding up the hill for the
third time it was getting dark and this was when I was outclassed again. Out came all the headlamps of enormous
luminosity, lamps that went to-and-fro panning across the road and, at the rear,
flashing lights, strobes, strip lights, shirts with LEDs sewn into them. It was like Piccadilly Circus.
Coming down Llanberis Pass each time there was a
terrific headwind, slowing progress, but on this third lap it had horizontal
stinging hail in it. I got extremely
cold and was glad to get into the tent to warm up. At about 2100 I set out on
the fourth lap. Bikes were still
whizzing past me – these would now be those doing 8 laps and 12 laps. This was becoming epic.