For the 4th year in a row we found ourselves making the annual pilgrimage to Llanberis for the Always Aim High Slateman Triathlon. It's now a family ritual and a race that we are very fond of due to the scenery, location and overall atmosphere it generates.
The weather earlier in the week was forecast a bit miserable, but by race day, it came good and we avoided the rain and hail of 2016. The water temperature is perhaps one of the things most regularly talked about, when the subject of Slateman arises. Each year the organisers draw a random lottery ball from their machine and shout out a figure at the briefing, to much groaning from the competitors who universally accept it will actually be 5 degree less than whatever is announced. A figure of 15 was announced this year, either Slateman have switch to Fahrenheit or their thermometer is broken... but hey, this is why we come back.
Luckily the swim is relatively short so we broke the ice, stepped in and after the initial 'ice cream head' we were soon on our way to the first buoy. I was desperately trying to control my breathing due to the cold water and settles onto a suitable pair of feet, where I stayed for the duration of the swim. The guy next to me lost his goggles early on and I spent the full swim breathing to my right, as he breathed to his left, resulting in me staring into his squinting, panic stricken eyes for just over 16 minutes. Fair play, he stayed in the group and we exited together.
In transition and then out onto the bike, we immediately hit the Llanberis pass. It's not very steep, but it's a 'mother in law'.... it goes on.. and on.. and on.. Eventually we crested the summit and started the super fast section with a tail wind, resulting in a 40mph ride to Capel Curig. As we turned left into the Ogwyn Valley, the wind was right on our noses and my speed came to a crawl. The blustery conditions meant that the front wheel was 'twitchy' and having nearly 'come to grief' more than once, I was pleased to turn left off the descent, into another headwind. This continued to be the pattern for the whole bike ride... I turned left... into another headwind. As last year, the wind direction appeared to be 'clock-wise' as we completed our 'anti-clockwise' loop. Typical.
Into T2 and out onto the run. The zig zags up through the slate mines are pretty painful to say the least and present the main challenge on the course, I tried not to think about them and focus on finding my running legs. Fortunately the organisers have kindly arranged for the first mile to be along the lake edge so you can clearly see ahead of you what's to come, just in case you'd forgotten.
I was running well up through the mines, losing a couple of places and then gaining a couple of places. If you start too hard on the course, you will pay later and can lose significant time, so 'balancing your effort' is very much the order of the day. To the nice Welsh ladies at the drinks station who said "nearly there, just round the corner" when there was 4 miles remaining, I don't know what kind of game you're playing but it's an evil one.
One last tough section of single track through the woods and then the finish line came into view. All in all it was a great day, 18th overall and 2nd V40, so even won a prize. The rest of the sunny afternoon was spent eating ice cream & hog roast, playing on the bouncy castle and then going on a little steam engine around the lake. Tim Lloyd and the team put on a great race, there's a sprint on Saturday and the full is on Sunday. When the sun shines, it's great for families with lots going on at the start and finish. If you're looking for some new races next year, put this into your calendar.
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