The Seriously Brutal Duathlon (half) lived up to its billing, helped considerably by some appalling weather at the start. If fact conditions in Snowdonia were so bad that the start time had to be delayed 2 hours and during the pre-race briefing we were informed that due to very high winds the third stage of the event, the ascent of Snowdon, would be cut slightly to avoid the most exposed section of ridge. We were all initially disappointed to hear that news as the ascent of Snowdon is the signature part of the challenge. Several hours later I was grateful for that decision.
The race started in truly dreadful conditions with very heavy rain and strong winds. The 5 mile run around Llyn Padarn was how shall I put it, unpleasant.
Everyone was like a drowned rat getting on the bike for the double lap around Mt. Snowdon, which totals 58 miles, and crosses Pen-y-Pass twice. Obviously, the environment is incredibly beautiful to cycle through, but the route involves several steep climbs and a very long climb from Llyn Gwynant to Pen-y-Pass. I think I enjoyed it, well there were certainly parts which were lovely. The climbs were challenging and at times painfully hard on the muscles when you run out of gears. To add to the challenge, the final stage of the climb to Pen-y-Pass exposes you the worst of the wind when you are at your most fatigued. Crested, the pass should have been a great relief as you get to speed down the other side for 3 miles, however, the wind was so strong we had to pedal down hill otherwise you'd slow down. I think I managed to get a top speed of 25 mph, compared to 39 mph when I descended it previously in good weather!
I completed the bike stage in a little over 4 hours, but didn't rush through transition. Taking the time to change from damp cycling kit to more suitable clothing for the 'run' up and down Snowdon. Christine elected to join me as a support runner on the mountain, which was lovely as I wasn't going to be running up. Like all the competitors around me it was a walk up the mountain.
That's me in the beautiful landscape of Snowdonia
Walking up the mountain as fast as your legs will go was hard work. By the time we reached the turn around point, at the top of the steepest section, I thought my legs were about to give up. Obviously, with gravity as your friend, the descent is much, much quicker but you know that every stride you run down batters your leg muscles, particularly for a flat lander. I completed the challenge in about 7.5 hours in beautiful sunny conditions. There's no pomp and ceremony just the knowledge that you've overcome a real challenge to your will power and stamina, not to forget that your legs will be incredibly sore the next day. If fact they were sore until the following Thursday, just in time for the Great North Run !