Aberfeldy 70.3 Triathlon - Notes to Self

August 20th 2017 saw the 21st Aberfeldy Triathlon, but the 1st run by Durty Events, and the first on a brand new course.

Which doesn't go within six miles of Aberfeldy.  Is this the RyanAir approach to triathlon naming?

The over riding impression of this triathlon is of outstandingly beautiful countryside.

I say this as someone who lives amongst lochs and mountains in the Scottish Highlands, so it takes a lot to impress me.  This course did.  If you're from anywhere in England or Central-belt Scotland, this course will blow you away.  In a good way.

Although I didn't tackle the previous course, the new one is clearly much improved, centred around the village of Kenmore and the grounds of Taymouth Castle.  There's still a split transition, but they're  easy walking distance apart - less than a kilometre - compared to the previous six miles.  You still have to register on the Saturday but can't rack until early Sunday, so that brings some money into the local economy for meals and accommodation.

I didn't do particularly well.  6:19 is back where I started two years ago at Lanzarote and it was a hillier course, but I think my personal woes are for a different post.  This is more about the race itself.

The swim is in glorious Loch Tay.  It's great to swim in fresh water for a change, and a setting like this is hard to beat.

Forget the reservoirs and wee lakes down south - this is full on mountain country.  The starts and finish is at Taymouth Marina and the swim follows am anticlockwise, triangular course.

It's sponsored by my friends from Lomo, Mark and Bruce, with whom I need to have a word because I found it pretty hard to see the buoys.  There were no intermediate markers, just three big orange buoys marking the turns.

Like a drunken duck
While I swam a straight line to the first, my GPS track shows I was then all over the place.  I couldn't see the second buoy until I was half-way to it, instead aiming for the middle of the pack in front.  I was in the third age group wave, so there was always people in front.  I knew that sighting would get even harder at the second buoy as we had to swim directly into the sun.  I thought I was being smart by sighting on the sun itself (I thought I had lined it up) but turns out I wasn't.  Consequently, although I swam at a decent pace for me (1:45/100m) I actually covered 2400m, that's 500m more than necessary.  OK, some of this might reflect the be GPS accuracy, but still...  My learning point from this?  I was wearing smoked lens goggles to shield me from the sun, and I suspect the orange tint made the orange buoys harder to see - I'll try clear goggles next time.

The bike goes through achingly beautiful country.  I rode this in July and barely saw a soul, either in cars or on foot, so the need to close the road just isn't there.  That said, part of the route is also used by the Tape Caledonia, which I did a few years ago, and for that they do close the road.  There's a big difference between thousands of sportive riders and a few hundred triathletes.  All credit to Durty Events for putting in effective traffic management for the short moments when we had to tangle with traffic on right-turns.

A Tri-bike certainly helps.  It's essentially two climbs, two descents, and a flat-ish time-trial around a loch which will almost certainly have a headwind in one direction.  A word of warning about the final descent, which was also the initial climb.  Cyclists have been seriously injured and, I believe there has been at least one fatality on this hill.

The run now goes through the grounds of Taymouth Castle, which frankly puts Shrugborough Hall on Ironman Staffordshire 70.3 in the shade.  What a spot.  Mostly on tarmac, with a little gravel track, there's just one medium sized hill, although it grows in height and severity by the third and final lap.

I didn't have a good run.  Just as at Staffordshire, my guts started cramping the moment I got off the bike and didn't ease for the first hour.  I had to disappear into the bushes for a call-of-nature to try to relieve some pressure.  That's not easy, or fast, wearing a Trisuit.

Wonderful encouragement and support from the aid station crews helped get me through, as well as seeing Liz and our wee dog Maggie on each lap.

The finish to a local triathlon like this is never going to have the Razamataz of an Ironman branded event, and frankly I prefer that.

I prefer to stroll across the finish line reflecting on a good day, rather than run a gauntlet of dancing girls.

Aberfeldy Triathlon - highly recommended.

The official video is below

No comments: