Swim: 30 mins (1.5km)
Mountain Run/Walk: 5hrs48mins (26km / 2500m of ascent/descent)
Kayak: 1hr36mins (11km)
Cycle: 2hr13mins (54km)
Position: 4th team of 118 / 7th individual of 235
Scotland is a long way to drive so we set off on the Thursday night after work and drove up to a Travel Lodge on the M6 just south of the Lake District. This meant only a 3-4hr drive on the Friday morning and we were in Killin for lunch. Lovely fish and chips and onion rings in Smiddys.
Spent a bit of time packing the various bags needed for the different stages, had a snooze and then met Justin for dinner at the Falls of Dochart Inn. We then drove down the loch for the safety briefing and gear check. We both passed the navigation check and had all the required gear so we handed across the bags for T1 and T2 and picked up our numbers 1 and 2 (best do those numbers proud), before turning in for the night.
Alarm at 4 am and wolfed down two bagels with peanut butter and jam and a nutrigrain bar before returning to bed. The alarm went off again at 5:30. Quick dress, organise and we were off at 6am for the quick drive to Kindrochit. Helped Justin pump his tyres on his overkill Cevello P3 - by some distance the best bike in transition.
Went to the warm-up tent to don my wetsuit and engage in by far the most warming up I had ever done. Unfortunately Justin informed me that his back had popped when putting on his wetsuit......how would this impact us only time would tell.
We were lead down to the loch by a Piper (and also across the loch too). We were off at just after 7 and I was surprised to see that not many people were in front of me. Comparing this to every triathlon I had ever taken part in confused me. But for some reason it took a few more strokes before I took a proper look around and worked out that everyone else barring me a couple of others were heading across the loch to the west of us. I readjusted slightly and headed for the tent on the far shore.
Swim took 30 mins and was long enough as my hands and feet were getting cold by the end. Into T1 and Justin was already there, so while I changed he went to the medics to get some codeine for his back....things were not looking so good.
We unfurled our poles .... walking poles..... and were off up the first Munro. The going was tough but it always is with Munro'ing. You need to on average climb 900+ metres and it's more often than not....a straight up slog.
We made it to the top of the first one and took a couple of photos before starting the fun bit. Running down! We ran everything that was flat or down and pushed hard up any slopes.
Munro 2 came fast after the first after another slog up. Justin was suffering with his back on the downs and was slowing up. We scrambled up An Stuc (Munro 3) and checked in again. I put some duct tape on my heal that was heating up. We stopped shortly afterwards to try to find some pain killers but to no avail. Soon after on the way up Ben Lawers we got some of some fellow competitors. However, when we got to the top of the 4th Munro, Justin called it quits. His back was causing him a lot of pain on the downs and he couldn't move comfortably.
I asked if I was able to carry on solo, and was told yes. In fact I was looked at oddly for asking the question. They were going to radio down to the lochside to enquire about a single kayak. I sure as hell wasn't going to kayak a double one all the way up the lake. 3 more munros to go and I went off hard. I caught the two brothers and stuck with them for a short while before pushing on. Hit munro 5, checked in and just ran straight on down to the col before punching up to number 6. Between 6 and 7 was the big descent down to the reservoir. In the briefing they described the fact that the runners would just go straight over the top and down, rather than using the path. So as I was running I did just that and cut cross the heather and straight down. Poles flying to ensure I didn't fall and ran down to the reservoir.
Quick stop at the check-in refilled on High 5 and a banana and ran out of the tent passed and official telling me to join up with someone. I pushed across the damn and up the last munro. Caught up a couple of fell runners we had spoken to earlier and over took a load more people. Felt a bit weak towards the top so stopped at the top and took on some more food and a lot of scottish tablet. So 2500m climbed and now it was all down hill (c900m to lochside). After the initial steep descent i was off and firing. As far as I knew this could be the end of my race. I didn't know if there was a single kayak or if they would let me continue.
Ran all the way down and arrived at T3 to lots of applause and to Em, which was really nice. She told me they had a single kayak and that she had convinced them that I had lots of paddling experience. Nice work.
A quick repack of the bag and on with the life jacket and spray deck and I was into the kayak. All i wanted to do was to hold the paddle correctly so that they wouldn't haul me out. I managed that and was away. It was a lovely paddle along the northern side of the lock to bikini beach and then crossing the loch back to Kindrochit. I over took two double kayaks and was maintaining a good rythm and cadence.
Arrived into the beach to more applause and Em and Justin both cheering me on. They both helped me in T3 (far more friendly than many a triathlon). I was then out on the 54km bike around the loch. Hit a hill and ran out of gears instantly. I had nothing in my legs. All the down hills had ruined my quads and they had nothing to give. The road on the south side of the loch was really bad and a tight single lane. But once into Killin the road improved and I could use the TT bars. Which I did as I flew passed the fish and chip van - another optional feed station. The north side of the lake was much faster going. I rolled into Kenmore and stopped for some water and a banana. Then turned to the home straight on the south side back to Kindrochit. Oh no more hills. I had nothing left, i was feeling ill, like i was going to throw up. Cadence was slowing, no more gears. Had to keep going, eventually realised I hadn't eaten enough so forced down and bar and things got a bit better. Struggling up what I thought was relatively low incline hill at 10km/hr, it was going to take ages to get home. A local shouted to say I was at the top and it was all down hill from there. All I could muster was a pathetic "please".
It was though and I was not much more than freewheeling now. But the kms were ticking by.....
Finally the farm and tents came into view and I cycled across the field, dumped the bike back in transition and ran to the finish line. Checked in one last time and I was done 10hr17mins. Em and Justin were there to congratulate me, but first I had to slice the melon with the claymore. It was only after that I was handed my result 7th of the 21 people home so far.....eh? But I set off in the second wave?? an hour after the first wave?? It then turned out I wasn't the 7th team home but the 7th person home and therefore the 4th team home....so 4th!!! Awesome!
Shower and then a massage and a whole chicken to celebrate before heading back to Killing with Em for dinner.
A great event. The scenery is fantastic, the event is super well organised and really friendly. There are loads of people doing it for fun and some trying to go hard. But as it also raises a lot or money for charity so lends a different feel to the whole event. I thoroughly recommend it and would be happy to do it again.
I found that I actually pushed myself harder than in my ironman last year (and my avg HR backed that up). Loved the off road running, the added discipline and the variety. I also like coming higher up the field...... I reckon that fell running and adventure racing could be the way forward! And the secret, definitely the week mountaineering a fortnight before....see previous post.