Sandman ……..Sunny September in Anglesey


It was decided some time ago in early 2013 after recovering from a cartilage operation only to bounce in to a double Achilles strain that I would defer my Slateman entry to compete in the Sandman later that year….. Not realising that it just happened to be my 17th wedding anniversary on the same day!! Whoopsy……

After a fairly event free last few months it had given me time to go to spectate and support our fellow Lincsquad competitors up and down the country as they have done for me over the past few years, this I have enjoyed immensely however it was finally time to get back on it and get ready for the race.

Some steady training on the bike and on the run restored my confidence back up to a reasonable level, well enough to be back and competitive again. That being said I’ve still not mastered this swim malarkey yet so I knew I would be doggy paddling the 1000 metre swim…….

The weekend had finally come and both Mrs Dobber and I were winging it down to Wales to enjoy a nice romantic weekend break for our wedding anniversary (with a twist of a triathlon smack in the middle!!) After arriving in Sunny Wales we dropped our stuff off at the hotel and went for a nice stroll around the beautiful town of Caernarfon.  As we walked around in the sun, hand in hand, I was secretly looking for a bike shop as I had forgotten my gas valve, cylinders and sludge stuff!! (Didn’t want to puncture and mess my only descent race of the year up!! I thought I had got away with my cunning plan for a while as there it was in the distance… A shop with a bike in the window!! Nice one I thought….. “Do you mind if I pop in here sweetheart to have a quick look to see what there is….just to be nosey of course”.   To my disappointment it had absolutely nothing what I was after so I had to confess………Bang went the romantic stroll in the sun as we now had to race to the car as time was getting on to drive to the next town to find a bike shop!! Finally sorted that one out after spending the best part of £40 and back to the weekend….

That evening we planned to go out for a meal and a drink to celebrate our 17th year of married bliss. So a quick wash and spruce up back at the hotel and we were then on our way to the restaurant which was overlooking the harbour and mariner….. “Table for two please” “no problem sir…..That will be about an hour and a half wait”…… “Thank you kindly” I replied.. “However I think we will go and spend our money elsewhere”. (I had a race in the morning and couldn’t eat too late!!).

“Shall we pop over to that place over there”? (The one with no one in….I wonder why?)……. Well this wasn’t going to plan but hay ho……

Any way this isn’t a Mills and Boon novel so enough about that and let’s get on to race day!!

The morning came early enough and it was up for a nice bowl of porridge, followed by a coffee and a slice of soreen…… I had really stuck to plain food as the last few races I have witnessed some issues on the run….. You know the ones?? The ones where you have to knock on someone’s door and ask them very politely whilst puffing and panting and dripping with sweat… “Please can I borrow your toilet”?…….

Fully loaded with Imodium and plenty of water we set off for a 40 minute drive to the race venue. Slightly nervous but mega excited we had arrived at the car park. It was like being at the departure lounge of an airport as we were 3 hours early!!………

Anyway, a fantastic venue was waiting for us to explore so that is what we did… having a walk over the dunes on to the beach then back over to transition to get racked up. This is where we met up with Huwie…… After a bit of a chat and swopping a few stories of how to get through the race without cramping up it was nearly time to do the 1000m walk down the beach to the swim start.

Huwie was in wave one so I enjoyed watching them run off the beach and in to the sea, wadding for a few meters then doing the dolphin dive bit to gain as much of a good start as possible….. 10 mins later and I was facing the start line. 5-4-3-2-1-Boom… And I’m off. Running like a daft in to the sea I went. Thinking that if I got to the front then I wouldn’t have to wait for this being a bit shy as the water temp was a tad chilly…..

Attempting to do a bit of freestyle it was after about 3 strokes I then reverted back to my traditional breast stroke and apart from being able to site the bouys on every stroke which made the 1000m appear to go on for ever, I finally completed it in 20.59(201st) some 4 mins 20 secs behind Huwie, who posted a very respectable 16.39 (32nd)

Running out of the sea and up the soft sand on the beach was a tuffy but it wasn’t long and T1 was beckoning. Transitions appear to be the best part of my race so I had to post a good one here…. That being said I still messed up putting my helmet on and had to take it off to untangle the back of the head support inside the helmet. (approx. 10 seconds lost). I posted a 1.01 time which was 9th fastest so yep chuffed with that. 51 secs would have put me fastest T1…..never mind….

The bike leg started and out of T1 is a 1.2 mile hill out of the forest which the race is set in…. Blowing a bit and just getting my breath back I soon got in to my stride. That was apart from catching my Garmin buttons and having to slow right down to reset my watch …twice….. I had a great second leg posting a 1.45.03 (30th)  This was aided with quite a few localised battles on the 60km circuit….finishing with one with a GBR trisuit on. Quite funny this one as when I overtook him I heard him growl at me……Obviously a tad upset he came flying past me 10 mins later……. For us to play cat and mouse for the rest of the bike….

Huwie again posted another strong time with a 1.45.12(32nd)

Flying back down the 1.2 mile start hill in to transition it was soon time to get the pumps on and go for a trot through the woods. Socks? No socks? I chose to put socks on here as I thought with the sand between my tutsy’s I would probably end up with blisters. Wuss I here you shout!!!!! I don’t care as my feet were snuggly!!

The run had started and although the setting was about as tranquil as you could get I have never been so wound up whilst running before…… Through the woods we went and all I could here (above the birds tweeting) was bleep, bleep, flipping bleep. My Garmin was set to auto stop and it was either a lack of signal which kept stopping and starting it or I was actually going that slow that it wasn’t registering any movement……….Jeez, thinking it was my pace I had to turn the sodding thing off so I stopped and walked to set my garmin auto stop to OFF. A lady came running past me giving me words of confidence…. “Keep going” she said. “Your nearly there”…… I nearly launched the watch like a boomerang but thought better of it… Chill out and get on with the running. Off I plodded again, uphill and down dale, it was undulating to say the least. 7km marker was the feed station so it was a quick gulp of energy drink and back to the running again. The last 3km was around the edge of the forest and over the dunes on to the beach. All of it on soft sand……wow that was a shock to the thighs… Into the last 1km and it was a final climb up and over the dunes. What I hadn’t seen from the distance was the TV CAMERAS at the top who were filming the sand hill!! Yep of course I’m gonna run up that….. OK so defeated after about the first stride I walked up hands on knees pushing down just to lift the legs. “Smile for the camera” was the next classic piece of advice thrown my way. “Smile for the camera” I replied rather sarcastically…. “OK a grimace will do”. Guess what they got?

Over the bank and down on to the beach….. Mrs Dobber was there to shout words of encouragement from about 800 metres away… Yes I did here her from there!!

“COME ON, HES GONNA CATCH YOU”……….. I responded with a last final kick and flew over the last set of sand dunes and over the finish line…….Reality was that I had nothing left so I did in fact get overtaken along with another 3 others and I wobbled over the finish line like I was on a dessert with a water mirage in front of me!! Run over and a time of 1.02.02(212th) posted for the 10km. 3hr 10min 16secs finish time, 88th male and 32nd age group, so was pleased with that, and a great way to finish the season.

Huwie finishing on a cramped up 54.47(127th) and a finish time of 2hr 58min 45sec

Definitely an event for the Lincsquad massive to do in mass in the future!!

And a big thanks to Mrs Dobber for allowing me to treat her for our anniversary in the way that she could come and be the support crew…again!! The traditional gift for 17 years is ‘Shells’…. And there were plenty of them on the beach….Hehe…