Aberfeldy Middle Distance Triathlon

Dave’s Report from Aberfeldy where he won his age group to become Scottish Champion

Not a great start in the Aberfeldy Middle Distance Triathlon on 19-August 2018, awaking to rain at 5:30am and 11⁰C as a light breakfast was eaten before heading off to T2 to drop off training shoes for the run – Aberfeldy uses a split transition with T1 at loch side and T2 in Kenmore. Arriving at T1 some 10-minutes later I found that a fellow competitor had racked their bike and kit in my slot. That meant a trip to find an official to let them know and then some further hanging about while a decision was made what to do with their bike and kit as we didn’t want to spoil their race. Problem resolved but now somewhat later than hoped. I tried to keep calm and complete my orientation before head down to the water. With 15-min before my start I pulled my wet suit up and realise I’d left my Glide at T2, some 10-min walk or 5-min run from T1, but I still had time to send a runner (my trusty supporter and wife, Helen), 7.05am and the announcer was telling yellow hat to get to water’s edge, “that’s me”, still no Glide, 7.07am Glide on and straight to water’s edge and in. A few seconds to acclimatise to the warm water, settle my breathing and make my way toward the start line, BANG!, the start gun goes off some 6-minute early and I’m nowhere near the line – no option other than “get on with it”.

One 1.9km lap meant some tricky spotting as buoy two was around 1km away and, due to the misty rainy conditions, nothing to spot on the horizon either. I soon became aware of an orange flash next to me as swimmer in a bright orange coloured wet suit came past, I thought “hop on their toes” but they were gone in the muddle of swimmers ahead. Finally, after some time of following swimmers I finally spotted the buoy and thankfully wasn’t too far off the line, buoy two done and just the last buoy to spot, or maybe I could just spot the Cranog Centre as it should be easier to see, but again weather conditions limited visibility and had to adopt a follow strategy.

Exiting the water, I glanced at my Garmin and read 30-min and was delighted thinking I’d had a great swim, little did I know that that zero was in fact an eight!. Into T1 and there was clearly an unwritten agreement from almost all athletes to wrap up for the cold “it’s the middle of August” but I did the same, going for a sleeveless gilet before jogging down to the mount line.

Schiehallion twice, once on the way out and again on the way back, some 2000 feet of climbing. Bike legs seemed to kick in nicely for the first climb and I started overtaking many of the faster swimmers, the descent was something else though. Wet roads, corners and gravel washed on from the rain made me cycle in “extreme caution” mode, covering the brakes, keeping the speed down on the descents and keeping off the tri-bars. On some flatter sections the power could go down but that was often short lived approaching the next corner and unknown surface conditions. On the last ascent of Schiehallion the rain stopped, and I could finally feel my hands some two hours after starting the cycle. Another super cautious descent down Schiehallion and I got caught only to re-take and drop the rider over the last 10-km in to Kenmore. The bridge in Kenmore was the trigger to loosen the shoes ready to get my feet out for transition. Feet out and on top of the shoes with a few sleeping policemen to negotiate before hopping off at the dismount line.

Straight to the rack and thankfully nobody else’s kit at my number, calf guards on, shoes on, gilet off and kick off on the run leg. A different run course this year, not the out and back that used to be used when based in Aberfeldy instead through the grounds of Taymouth Castle, and not flat, accumulating some 900 feet of altitude over the three 7-km laps.

The weather now was dry and really quite warm for running so I was a frequent visitor to the many aid station wearing part of the water and drinking the rest. The multi-lap format made the run feel much shorter ticking off sections of the lap and convince myself of only one more trip up that hill, but of course more cheers of those supporters. The final lap came soon enough and I was happy with the continued pace and general feeling, down the grassy slope for the last time and finally got to take the “straight on to finish” sign rather than the “next lap”, a slight increase in speed and an attempt to hold form for the photos and I was done, some 5hrs and 1-min since starting. A few more lessons learnt today take those and be ready for the next one in 2019.