Triathlons and Duathlons
Like many runners, members of Carnethy Hill Running Club will touch on many things outside of running. Sometimes climbing, sometimes swimming, maybe road cycling or MTB, or perhaps just rhythmic dance. It’s nice to dabble, after all, we’re not hillrunning robots. Not road running though, that’s a step too far. For those that occasionally cycle and maybe a little splashing round a pool, there’s a wonderful world of triathlon out there.
Triathlons can sound a little daunting, and most people fear the swim part in particular. I wouldn’t worry too much about that as the swim sections can be as short as 400m (8 lengths of the Commonwealth Pool) for the “Come and Tri” events. Obviously the cycle and then run sections are equally short (around 10km cycle, 3km run). At the other end of the spectrum there’s Iron-distance triathlons consisting of 2.4mile swim, 112mile cycle and 26.2mile run. Between these events there are many flavours of Triathlon, consisting of varying distances, along with onroad/offroad cycle, onroad/offroad run, indoor/outdoor swim. There’s even some events that are even more mental than iron-distance, but that’s for another day. For now, all you need to know is that we have a wee section dedicated to the reports from Triathlons, along with any nuggets of info that may help you on your exciting new sport!
On Saturday morning (5am!), Angela Mudge and I lined-up at the start of the Celtman Extreme Scottish Triathlon 2018. Well, along with 177 other hopefuls, it wasn’t just us two. The race is similar to an iron-distance triathlon, some legs a little shorter or longer, and takes in the fabulous landscape around Torridon. The following description from their website provides a good taste of what’s involved:
SWIM 3.4K in cold, deep and jellyfish infested Atlantic waters
BIKE 202K on incredible scenic (and often very windy) Highland roads
RUN 42K through an ancient drover’s pass and over the Beinn Eighe mountain range
ASCEND over 4000 Metres during this epic day
PUSH YOURSELF 100% and win the coveted Blue T-shirt
Some pretty photos, here. All the photos seem to be copyrighted, so not many in this post I’m afraid.
The race is akin to the famous “Norseman”, and is now part of a XTRI series with the Norseman and Swissman and…em…something else. It’s famously tough, so it’s a great achievement just to finish the race at all, but within the race there’s a smaller race for that blue t-shirt. If you make good time and arrive at the foot of Beinn Eighe within 11hours, you get to complete the final run section over Munro summits and be rewarded with a lovely blue shirt. If you don’t arrive before 11 hours then you get a white t-shirt and go a different route. The white t-shirt route is over an old drove pass instead, which is a bit lower and a bit safer, but still technical and great fun. The white t-shirt route is also the one used if conditions get too bad, like last year. While everyone is grateful to finish, people want that blue t-shirt!
Angela and I were joined by pal of the club, Jean Bowman of Lomies. She’s a hill running hero, and regular marshal at the Scottish Islands Peaks Race. She’s great! I’ve been following her training on Strava with great interest, and I’ve been feeling a bit inadequate. She’s been putting-in the miles, turning the pedals, and swimming the lengths. My training has been a little rubbish, a bit fractured and unstructured, but she’s been positive and supportive about it whenever we met. It’s probably due to her that I started the race at all. Cheers, Jean!
For me, this triathlon has a 4th element: the support crew. My preparation for the Celtman wasn’t great, and I only started looking for support the week before the event. I’d left it very late indeed. That said, I was very grateful that John Busby and John Ryan offered to help. What I lacked in specific training, I made up for with an outstanding couple of guys behind me.
The race itself proved more fun than I imagined. I started comfortably in the swim, even though the water was quite cold and loaded with jellyfish. Previously Mike Lynch and Mark Hartree prepared me for the cold water with their open water swims in “spring” (late winter), and I felt warm enough in just a wetsuit and tri-suit. I managed to dodge the jellyfish, thankfully, and also outswim hypothermia, and left the water fairly fresh compared to some others. John Busby dragged me through transition and onto the bike in quick time. Out on the open road, the Johns knew it was best to let me get settled for the next while, so went for breakfast while I smashed through the early miles. I had enough food and water, and I’d just consumed gallons of electrolyte (seawater), so I was in good shape without them. Also, I doubt they’ve fixed a puncture in their life, so I think the role of support mechanic was down to me regardless.
The early miles flew by, leading to the middle miles. No sign of the support crew. I turned to look at each passing car, but no sign of them and I was beginning to get a bit concerned. Just as I finished my last jelly baby, and just I was about to start eating my spare inner tubes, they appeared! Hurrah! Perfect timing! I slowed to climb a steep hill, they ran alongside replacing everything, swapping bottles, and jamming chocolate bars into my mouth. Ideal! This continued for the following 75 miles – around 20mins of cycling on my own, then they’d appear with more food, bottle replacements and solid encouragement. My feet didn’t leave the pedals throughout their support sections, I didn’t need to stop and lose time, they positioned themselves on slow climbs where they could do everything whilst jogging along. Amazing support!
Into the cycle-run transition (T2), where John Busby was getting ready to run with me to T2A – aka, the blue t-shirt cutoff. Unfortunately for John Ryan this meant he had to hold-up a towel while I got changed. Not a pretty sight. To stop them getting bored, I’d left a colouring book (Rare Orchids of the Southern Regions) and coloured pencils for them in the car for between support stations, so hopefully John Ryan could use that as post-trauma therapy after his ordeal of seeing me in the scud. Bless his heart.
John Busby lead me along the tracks and woods of the first section to T2A. Progress was smooth, walking uphills and jogging the rest. The route had changed since last year, and the new tracks, trails and trods are a lot more fun and a great improvement. It was good! I was passing loads of runners, and the weather was nice. However, ahead of us the skies were darkening and clag started gathering on the summits. Last year everyone was diverted along the “low route” as the weather was just too unsafe, but if you made the cutoff you still got the blue t-shirt. Back to this year, up ahead there were runners allowed up the “high route”, but with the worsening weather the marshals had called from the summits to say that people need to be diverted. John Busby carried me into T2A well within the cutoff, but the high route was closed (only by a few mins though). I would get a blue t-shirt, if I finished, but the final run-in would be different to what I was expecting. No matter, looking at both routes, I think the low route was a bit more fun and had a bit less tarmac. John Busby swapped with John Ryan for the final run section.
Behind me, Angela was fast approaching. I assumed she was already ahead of me somewhere, but it looks like she had a tough swim, so I got ahead in the swim and cycle. Angela is a quality runner so it was only a matter of time before she would catch me. Despite my pretty solid run for the first section, Angela was faster – she would be 6th fastest in the entire field for those 12miles. She arrived around 15min behind me, also making the blue cutoff and also being directed along the lower route.
Leaving T2A there were some guys in front (maybe about 6 teams), and slowly we caught them. I was running ok, just chit-chatting with John, and the miles started tumbling by. A marshal said we were the first to pass him, so that meant we were at the front of the low route runners. The route was along a nice trod, weaving along a high valley, jumping over streams, over rocks, steps, puddles. I wasn’t deliberately pushing, I was just trying to move steadily whilst taking a bit of care and enjoying it all, and making rude jokes with John to pass the time. Looking behind us up the valley, we’d made good progress and it seemed unlikely that we’d be caught, and I wasn’t particularly fussed if we were. Ahead…well, there was nobody to catch. The weather had improved, and the route seemed to get better and better. We jogged down to the road, met John Busby and we jogged home together. I’d made it!
I met Adam Ward afterwards, and he said that Angela caught a bit of cramp in the final section and that slowed her down. A great shame, as I’m sure she would’ve thumped past me. Hopefully she had a good time though. As for Jean, she set a solid pace throughout and finished in great time! I had to head home early the next day so didn’t get a chance to catch up with either, I guess that’ll be for another day!
If I can attribute me starting the race to Jean, then I’d have to say finishing the race was entirely down to John Ryan and John Busby. Their support was awesome, and utterly invaluable. Without them I wouldn’t have finished, that’s for sure. I had no fuelling plan, or any real support plan, and they just handled it all and got me through. Additionally, they kept my anxious wife updated via text, which helped my life massively! I feel very grateful that they gave up their weekend to help, and I’m truly indebted to them.
Angela in action.
Jean in action.
Jim and John taking it seriously.
Hogmanay drifted by without being celebrated in the Hardie household. I know, how dull! Two reasons, my ribs were ker-fecked from falling off my bike a few days before, and I had foolishly entered the New Year’s Day Triathlon in the morning. Bruised (or cracked) ribs are the most annoying injury, as it rules out just about every form of exercise and makes even the most mundane task, like sleeping, rather painful. It really is rubbish, and puts a real dampener on a night out and getting ready for a race. Painkillers and sleeping tablets have done some good work, but that puts an end to any idea of getting smashed on Hogmanay. Boozing purists would point out that just hitting the bottle has the same effect as painkillers and sleeping tablets, but I didn’t want to take that risk. So I just retired early on Hogmanay and left the bells, fireworks and snogging neighbours to my wife.
Next morning, I met Chris Henty and Mark Hartree in the morning for the ride over to the Commy Pool for the start. We met Rachel there, and Seona, and I’m sure I spotted Ann Nimmo there milling around. Mike Lynch and Neil Burnett were also there to support. The NYD tri is a great start to the year, and a really good fun event. It consists of a 400m swim in the Commy, then three laps of Arthurs Seat on a road bike (11ish miles), and finally a lap of Arthurs Seat running (3.5ish miles). People start at 5s intervals in the pool, starting from the slowest swimmer to the fastest, each starting up lane 1, then down lane 2, then up lane 3 and so on until eventually you run out of lanes (8) and have to climb out. It’s a neat way of doing the swim, I have to say, and means there’s a steady stream of starters. The only downside of people following each other is that everyone is useless at predicting their swim times, so inevitably people clog together and have to overtake and it can get a little messy at points. Not bad, just a bit messy, and the organisers had it all under control.
Chris was the first of the Carnethy starters, then Mark. Seona, Rachel and I all started a little later at the estimated 8mins. Despite starting fairly closely together, I didn’t see any of the others for the entire race, except for hearing a “well done, Jim” from Seona during the cycle. The swim was pretty good, if a little crazy when people overtook, and it seemed to fly past without any problem. It was a bit of a shock going from the warm poolside out to the car park for transition, but a cheer from Carolyn Dyson out marshalling kept spirits high whilst I ran around barefoot searching for my bike. I really must try to remember where I rack my bike, I really should.
The cycle was where I really wanted to make a difference as I’ve been trying to improve my cycling for a wee while now. The last time I ran the race my cycle wasn’t great, as it often is during triathlons for me, and I was hoping to improve on my time. It was a struggle getting my bike fixed to start the race, and truth be told I didn’t fancy getting on the bike after crashing the week before. I’m a bit of a feartie, really. Replacing bent handlebars and resetting gears are all relatively easy, but trying to reset your head another thing entirely. Thankfully for me the weather was good so icy and wet roads were less of a concern, and ultimately the cycle went well. The extra training really made a difference! In fact, comparing the cycle leg with the previous time, I improved around 6mins on a 40min cycle which was awesome! If only I could make the same improvement at running races!
Last, but not least, the run to complete the triathlon. The run is always the best bit, partly because I run fairly regularly and so I find the run on triathlons the easiest and most rewarding. You manage to catch all the guys that are good on the other disciplines but lack a bit on the run – it’s very satisfying! In fact, it’d be good if the run was twice round Arthurs Seat instead of just once. As soon as it had started, it was over. The ol’ ribs were a bit annoying but I don’t think that made any difference, really. After all the good weather it was only as I finished the run that the rain started, so a good reason to get back indoors and get some tea.
The score on the doors:
I was first Carnethy, 15th overall, 1:11:22. I’d like to dedicate my result to Panadol. Thanks, guys!
Rachel just behind, 41st Overall, 9th female, 1:18:09.
Mark next, 7th Supervet, 1:21:29.
Seona deserves a mention too, 15th female, 1:22:19.
And then Chris on 1:31:08.
I went looking for Ann Nimmo on the results to see if she or Ian were racing, and spotted Camus, Sara-Jane and Ailish. Ann must’ve been supporting! Anyway, they finished 1:31, 1:43 and 1:56 respectively.
Oh, and Mike spotted Colin Ledlie, finishing his first tri in 1:34:31. Good work!
I didn’t enter the Craggy Island Triathlon this year. Last years race was moved by a month at late notice and I had to carry the entry on to this year. Well that was the decision made to 2017, Fraser and Helen decided to join me. Then it turned out to be the day before the Pentland Skyline, and also the day before Cathi’s 60th Birthday Meal (and 2 days before her birthday). Well something had to go, and it was The Skyline.
After a night at the Scotch Malt Whisky Society, at 6:30am, Helen, Fraser and I got into the car and headed to Oban. Three hours later we were parked in the mizzle opposite Kerrera and after unloading the car there was a quick innertube change before we cycled to the queue for the boat.
There was a bit of a wait before we got to transition to set up the bikes the cycle and running kit and get into the wetsuits, then we were back queuing to get back to the mainland. As we stood on the slip for the best part of an hour chatting in bare feet (and no glasses) we were discussing the event with Joan Wilson and Jean Bowman Lomond Hill Runners). Fraser was worried about the swim , Helen was worried about the bike and I was worried about the run. Joan was worried about her shoes and Jean was fed up waiting.
Eventually it was time to start and we discovered why the slipway is so named. Falling into the water we lined up and after a couple of minutes we were off. My plan to swim on the right to avoid my normal left deviation worked well and I managed to get to the other (aptly named) slip in 4th place. After slithering about and skating up the concrete and a bit of a run on the carpet I was in transition and ripping the velcro off the wetsuit and trying to get my socks and shoes on. I was out of transition without seeing my wee boy and Helen.
I was on my Carbon Superfly 29er (my “Elsie” Bike), perfect for this race. It was lovely weather, almost sunny and the views were stunning. I was trying hard but not eyeballs out, and I was losing places regularly. I dont think I am quite brave enough on the bike, but i managed all the descents staying on the bike. There were the odd mud baths on the way, some so deep that the bottom bracket was under water, others were just gluey gloop. I had to push some of them, getting going again was harder work. As I pushed up a grassy slope I heard the “Hi Dad” and then Fraser was past. The last 2 miles was on fast road and then the bike was dumped.
I was better than last time, but running was still hard work as we did the first bit of track. Once on the Hill i was more at home, and again the weather and views were great. The descent was grassy and fun and as we reached the coast we ran through a natural arch. The soft sheep shit was joyful underfoot and after another bit of nice grass were back on track and tarmac for 2 miles of pain to the end. I was only 3 places behind the lad. Joan was 5 minutes behind and Helen was in about 3 minutes later the Jean finished 10 minutes later.
Sitting eating burgers and Coffee in the sunshine was the perfect ending. After all the worries we all had a wonderful time and we will be back!
Another queue to get back to the mainland and a while to pack the car and by 8pm we were back to Roslin knackered but happy, happy to be missing the Pentland Skyline!
Thanks to Gus Bowman and Andy Upton for the photos and to the Craggy Island Team for all the fun. It was great to have ridden Elsie Scott’s bike again in her favourite race , we miss you Elsie.
|Position||Name||Age||Class||Time||Swim||Swim Posn.||T1||T1 Posn.||Bike||Bike Posn.||T2||T2 Posn||Run||Run Posn.|
Back in June Billy and I signed up for the Applecross Duathlon – the price (£6) and the timing (Edinburgh September weekend plus our 20th wedding anniversary!) were right. But we all know what happens to the best laid plans. Billy ended up doing the timekeeping for most of the handicap races rather than running them due to injury over the summer and only managed a few runs out with Willie’s old and broken group (Willie’s words not mine!) prior to the race. I on the other hand completed all the handicaps bar Arthur’s Seat as I developed a dodgy knee just days before. So when race day arrived Billy dropped from the race to the challenge and I became support crew.
The duathlon comprises a 9 mile (471m ascent) off road run followed by a 15 mile (538m ascent) road cycle and is a well organised low profile race, although many folk had travelled quite a way to get here. The campsite we were staying in was waterlogged. It had seemingly rained every day for the previous 3 weeks. Conditions on the run promised to be interesting! But Billy was upbeat and set off at 12.30 with our friend who is a professed road runner and was definitely out of her comfort zone.
There were frequent rain showers but the sun did shine at times and at least the cycle wasn’t straight into a headwind as is often the case. Only the junior record was broken and as Stewart Whitlie wasn’t taking part this year there were no Carnethies on the podium! We did spot one other Carnethy but he wasn’t listed as Carnethy in the results so I didn’t get his name!
Cakes and tea were held In the village hall afterwards and a good time appeared to have been had by all. We will definitely be back.
Question: Apart from some running, what has the Aberfeldy Triathlon and the Edinburgh Marathon got in common?
Answer: neither happen in their named town! Names can be deceptive.
Would you run the Pentland Skyline in the Moorfoots?
With a few niggles recently, some cross training seemed a good idea and entering a triathlon seemed a way also to learn to swim better and ride a racing bike, at the same time as resting pains. Previously, my swimming skills were limited to breast stroke and splashing about with the kids, and biking was limited to mountain biking rather than rolling along on tarmac which always seemed bit dull. The running bit should be straight forward apart from the niggles and the Monday swims in the local reservoirs gave me water confidence, even if my direction finding is poor and technique even worse. So, I bought a bike and got a few rides in to get a feel for those funny handle bars.
I met Maggie Creber the night before at registration who I had swam behind a few times at Gladhouse. It was her x7th Birthday weekend. Folk were busy getting expensive campervans stuck in the mud or preening space-age looking ‘bikes’. One guys front crank and gears alone cost more than my shiney new Boardman. Sunday had us awake early in KENMORE at the end of Loch Tay (6.5 miles from Aberfeldy) for a 1900m swim in lovely fresh (ecoli free) water followed by a stunning 90km bike ride over the hill and around Loch Rannoch and back to the start. The half marathon run took a reversed ‘h’-shaped course with three laps around the golf course in the grounds of Taymouth Castle.
All these 3 legs went better than expected. Due to my zig-zagging, my swim distance exceeded the 1900m and while finishing in the last third of the third wave, was a bit quicker than I expected. For me the bike went really well. With so many targets there was plenty of overtaking and for the first half I played cat and mouse with racer 100 and Dave 120. A shout – ‘is that you Mark?’ said I had caught Maggie alongside Loch Rannoch. The descent back toward Loch Tay disappointed as I didn’t quite hit 50mph. Must try harder! The run turned out to be quite tough due to tarmac and wee hills to sap you, repeated 3 times. No PBs for me but the weather was great and the scenery lovely. Maggie seemed to be catching me as I saw her at each out-and-back, although to her I was getting further ahead.
Most importantly, the birthday girl came First Female Senior Vet and stood proudly on the high bit of the podium for Carnethy, then had to go up again for the prize as 3rd FV40.
I came 15th MSV which I am quite happy about, beating Mr 100, but behind Mr Dave 120 and settling for an alcohol free beer.
Result here: http://www.aberfeldytriathlon.com/aberfeldy-triathlon.html
On Saturday Chris H and I made our way to the sunny Borders for the St Mary’s Loch Standard Distance Triathlon. I’d bullied Chris into entering a couple of weeks ago, dismissing his claims of not being an experienced enough swimmer to do it. He’d been to a couple of swimming lessons a week prior, so I figured he’d be alright for it. Triathlon can be a little daunting, I think, and sometimes you just need that little push from…em…a caring buddy that only has your very best interests at heart. So I pushed in my usual overbearing way. You’re welcome, Chris! On the drive down I was hoping that the weather would make it all seem worthwhile, but the relentless rain and drizzle made us both wish that we hadn’t entered at all. It really was a day for sitting under cover, drinking tea, and snoozing. It certainly wasn’t a day for splashing around in a loch, then skidding around on your bike, and then sploshing around on a run. The only kindness shown by the course was a warm water temperature – a surprising 16°C, exactly the same as the air temperature.
The race started well, the warm water certainly making a difference. It feels like breathing is easier, that my lungs feel less tight, but that may just be my imagination. I managed to sneak to one side of the main group which kept me away from the stramash of bodies, flailing arms, and feet looking to kick your face off. Easy breathing, steady swimming. It was relaxed! In fact, it may be the first triathlon swim I’ve really enjoyed. I can only put this down to an increase in the amount of open-water swimming that I’ve been doing. Anyway, no sooner had it started then the 1500m were all over, and I was gingerly trying to haul my sorry carcass over the stony waterside.
The bike was also alright too, strangely. I was concerned that I was going to get cold just cycling in a tri-suit, but the air was mild and made for an enjoyable cycle. Well, not cold, at least. The cycle heads south west-(ish), out then back, along the quiet roads of the A708 to Moffat, 40km in total. At the heart of the cycle is a hill passing by the Grey Mare’s Tail waterfalls. On the outgoing leg it’s a fast, winding descent – it’s just the right descending angle to lift your fingers off the brakes and let yourself fly! It was glorious! St Mary’s loch is essentially at the top of this hill, so on the way back home it’s a long and desperate grind. The flying outward leg soon turned and I was facing the climb back, and I quickly realised that the headwind that I thought I was pushing on the way out was actually a tailwind. Aaaargh! All I could do was just keep my head down, wobble my way back uphill, eat fistfuls of ShotBlox and drink some juice.
Finally the run section, along the Southern Upland Way beside St Mary’s Loch. No real climbing, just undulations and thin trods for the outgoing 5km and then turn around and do it all again in the opposite direction. I think all the eating at the end of the cycle paid dividends for the run. It felt quick, for me at least, passing lots of people on the way.
Once over the line, I spotted Chris standing, fully dressed. I automatically congratulated him on beating me in the race in true Scottish form – by insulting him and generally calling him names. Not so! He’d taken 4 strokes on the swim, and decided that he didn’t fancy the race after all. He then turned for the tea tent instead, got a brew, found some shelter in the car, and then went for a snooze. I really couldn’t blame him.
All that was left for me was to analyse my stats, get a burger and juice, and then head home to maybe get some beer. Looking deeper into the numbers I was 25th overall out of 150 finishers. It seems my swim is pretty rubbish (25:18 – 82nd), my cycle was pretty good (1:16:53 – 27th) and I’m really happy with my run (41:28 – 6th). Chris also got a PB on his tea drinking, so it wasn’t a wasted journey after all!
All in all, a nice wee diversion from hillrunning, which can be nice sometimes. A grand day all round!