The Slateman Sprint was possibly an ambitious introduction to my first outdoor swim triathlon event, but the thought of a weekend back in Wales, just a short bike ride away from the folks home, got me sufficiently excited that any thought of the actual event itself was somewhat clouded over……and what an amazing event it was!
Most Welsh people are characterised by pasty white skin and a waterproof jacket that goes with them everywhere, for good reason….it rains a lot in Wales.
So imagine my joy as I drove back to the “great lands” along the beautiful A55, greeted with stunning clear blue skies, and a setting sun, with a weather forecast that promised more of the bright sunny stuff.
So race morning – Tattoos on, porridge eaten, and all the essential gear packed I headed down to the transition area in the beautiful Llanberis – yes the Welsh weather gods were indeed charming everyone and showing the welsh hills in the best light as predicted by the weather people. (You could even see the top of Snowdon – quite a rare sight from Llanberis)
After much faffing, laying out the gear in various combinations, thinking “mmmm with socks, without socks, where should I lay my number belt, don’t forget to put my helmet on” I was finally ready, and started socialising – that’s what transition is all about right?
I learnt a few good things in transition – the run was up that monster slate mountain in front of us, I was racked next to a friendly chap who had moved from Somerset to Cardiff (I quickly introduced him to my Cardiff tri friends) and my pink swim hat clashed with my red goggles.
So race caps on, a little wave to the supporters and in we went to the lake. I’m not going to lie, the water was not tropical, but after a few dunks under the water and a few “oggie oggies” off we went.
The mosh of people and chilly water was a challenge initially – I even fell into the comfort “granny breaststroke” for a few meters, but after realising:
- I’m not the only one granny” breastroking”,
- This isn’t actually that cold
- I’m not drowning and this isn’t half as bad as expected.
I got into my rhythm and started to enjoy, a somewhat un glamorous beaching on the lake bank meant a swift exit out of the lake and up to transition and onto the bike.
The route to Pen Y Pass; it’s a beauty, but basically one long big steep climb all the way to the top, low gears all the way….again impeccable route studying on my part, I hadn’t realised we dropped down the valley into Pen y Gwryd, so my initial elation of “getting to the top and half way there” was quickly replaced with “oh we go a bit further then”. Interesting route fact….the pub on the left as y drop into Pen Y Gwryd is where the successful British Everest team, including Hillary, based themselves for training, its full of fascinating mountaineering paraphernalia. Needless to say I didn’t stop on this passing, and had to bomb passed as fast as my little legs would take me. One last steep climb out of Pen Y Gwryd to Pen Y Pass and then it was a fast decent (I’m pleased I paid attention to the “fast decent class” in Mallorca) back to T2.
T2 – was less slick……at this point I will mention how amazing all the Lincsquad supporters were on this day, they were everywhere, and shouted encouragement just when you needed them most – what a fantastic club I have joined. On the down side…..because they are everywhere, they also witnessed a less than slick T2….running down the wrong rack, then racking my bike at the wrong number, and then finally running out in the wrong direction. But fair play….the lincsquad massive words of encouragement still kept coming! (With a few top tips given at the end of the race too!)
The run….or a mountain climb is probably the better description, was an absolute beast. 3km of up followed by 3km of down, with parts only able to run if you were a mountain goat…..on a plus you get to the top and you are greeted by one of the most beautiful sights – a sea of bluebells under a canopy of green trees, absolutely stunning.
As the descent took you passed the old slate mine hospital and you get your first glimpse of the crowds and finish line below, I was spurred on to complete this cracking course.
What an event…probably one of the tougher introductory events, but equally all future events will have a lot to live up too. The scenery is breath taking, the organisation of the event couldn’t be faulted and the complimentary cow bell will take a lot of beating. I will certainly be signing up again next year – who else is in?