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 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!
The 2017 Celtman Triathlon took place on Saturday 17th June up in Torridon on Scotland’s magnificent Atlantic Coast. It’s a unique event, oversubscribed several times over each year, attracting triathletes from all over, with quite a strong contingent of racers from Sandinavia (as the race is part of some ‘Extreme’ dude series of three: The Norseman, Swissman and Celtman.
As Mark said in his report (here), it all went well, I came 5th and whilst I would have loved top 3 I do appreciate that if you want top Iron Man distance results then one’s training needs to be focussed on very long steady efforts and working to a low power (sorry but running and biking up and down hill is more fun, isn’t it?). Basically, the swim was rough and cold, and Mark literally did T1 for me. He was so quick in stripping off the 7mm of rubber off my chest that I’d already caught up about 20 lost places before getting on the bike. The bike was fast, cross and tail winds for the first 100 miles, and hence pretty exciting. 21-22mph average, mainly down again to Mark and Jim’s incredible support throwing fuel and encouragement at me from the van and side of the road. The head wind for the last 30 miles stopped everyone, rather frustrating, but T2 again performed by Mark put me straight into about 15th for the run. The big upset was that Torridon mountain rescue didn’t let racers up onto Beinn Eighe for the MTN run which is what it’s all about, so we had to do a lower level but still pretty rocky run. We ran much of this as a three and that was the most enjoyable, although hardest, part of the day, to take us into the finish in 5th overall.
Having two such great pals supporting is what made this a special race. Jim Hardy and Mark Hartree I won’t ever forget the support you gave me that day. Also the race atmosphere is pretty unique. If anyone fancies this event then please get in touch so I can pass on maps, info and my own support!
Some folk aspire to do the Celtman which is rated as an Extreme Iron Man. I’d done several Bowhill Duathalons with Nick Williamson (the Teacher one) and knew he was a machine. He had podium aspirations for the Celtman and completed it on Saturday in the worse conditions ever and convinced his support team comprising of Jim Hardie and myself that they would give the Celtman a miss in the future.
The swim was cold, very choppy and full of jelly fish. Nick was mid-field at Transition 1 meaning a lot of work was needed. The bike was hilly, often wet and cool, and the 45 mile head-for-home leg all into a strong wind was brutal, even sitting in the warmth of the support wagon. Nick was quite amazing and focussed, reeling in place after place to be in around 15th place at Transition 2 from bike to run.
Jim Hardie stepped in to run the finishing marathon and a very quick change took a few more places. I was going to do the Beinn Eighe hill section (hoping he’d be knackered by then) but the high route was cancelled due to high wind and rain so after a minor faff, Jim ran on and I supported from a new place.
Nick and Jim spanked the run reeling and dumping more places to bring Nick to the finish in 5th place. An extraordinary achievement in Jim and my eyes. A faster swim and a medal was certainly likely.
Results will be up soon on the Celtman Website. An awesome race for machines.
Mark Hartree / Jim Hardie
I took part in this on Sunday. Didn’t do particularly well. Struggled on the run especially. Need to up my game for ArranMan and stop watching Netflix.
Results here: https://www.stuweb.co.uk/race/1Bf
Three Carnethys ventured into the mudfest that was the final long race of the three series of races at the Bowhill Estate near Selkirk. I keep saying I am going to stop doing these races since the courses don’t change, but keeping on doing them as a mountain bike race and a run make for a good day out. After the recent rains and snow, the course was probably the wettest, most boggy and slowest I had seen, and that is saying something.
I had an average race not helped by not doing anything on a mountain bike since the short race in November, and not realising that my back brake lever was about to fail after the first time I needed it. The bike section had with three quite gnarly technical single track descents which were not the best place to be with only a front brake. At least I had one brake, but had to let folk past regularly and run down the steep bendy sections.
Nick Williamson managed to go the right way (for a change) and despite my encouragement to get the guy in front as he passed me on the out and back run, and held onto a creditable 2nd place. Chris Boustred had a good race coming in 11th. I came in 42nd out of about 130 racers, despite starting near the front…
So, if you like mountain bike and running combos as a Duathalon involving varying quantities of mud, gloop, ice and snow, lookup the Bowhill Duathalon Series from Nov – Mar next winter and get Durty.
Results here http://www.durtytiming.com/race-results.html
Is there a better way to open the New Year than by taking an invigorating dip in the Commonwealth Pool and then whizzing three or four times round Arthur’s Seat, with the sun abetted by masses of bemused spectators to encourage you and a northerly breeze to keep you cool? At least seven Carnethies were amongst the 400-odd who thought not and cheerfully lined up for the New Year’s Day Triathlon.
Mike Lynch was the fastest Carnethy, in a respectable 25th place, followed by three first-timers separated by little more than a minute and a half: Chris Henty (66th), Mary Lye (79th) and Matthew Jones (81st). Mary was second in a very tight F40 category, the first five in it finishing within a couple of minutes of one another. The Nimmos started trailing in twenty minutes later, led by Anne (second F60), just managing to hold off Ailish (who took ten minutes off her PB) and with Ian fighting his customary rear-guard action (second M70 of two).
For once the seniors didn’t take the main prizes: the race was won by an M40, Stephen Clark, and the first woman (27th overall) was a junior, Lauren Dickson.
Results here. Bob Marshall’s photos: here.