Harlech is one of my favourite triathlons; so much so that it is the only pool swim that I will tolerate. I love my wetsuit and salt water.
You are given a start time loosely based on your estimated swim time; however it really is only a “latest” start time; if you want to go earlier then nobody has ever objected. So I decided to abandon my 10.58 time and get there early and go with Mike.
Over the years (18) the weather has been unpredictable to say the least, we’ve had sunburn, frostbite, hailstones, fog, people blown off their bikes (Jason) and just about everything you can imagine. This year it was bright, moderate sea breeze and a tad nippy.
Into transition, bike racked, put finish clothes in bag to be transported to the finish ( in the Castle) and try to get to the pool ASAP. Nice to be recognised every year by the lady who marks on your race number, she likes my new tattoo. Into the race briefing, same as the last 5 or so years since they changed the bike route and onto poolside.
Good system for the swim, 3 in a lane, one out one in, works as well as any system but relies on similar swim abilities. Unfortunately the lady in my lane was doing a tortoise medley, one length backstroke, one length breaststroke, one length front crawl (at least it looked vaguely like front crawl). I tried to see the funny side but did have a slightly interrupted swim as she was in several minutes before me and was still going when I got out.
Outside; bloody hell, time to get dressed, no lightning transitions today, socks on, shoes on, jacket on, gloves on, helmet on, shades on and away we go. Cold legs take a while to get going and unusually an offshore cross wind, deep rims make it a bit twitchy but you know me, it’s tri bars all the way to the hill up to the castle. Haven’t seen Mike, he beat me on the swim, nearing the top of the climb and there he is, very happy with his lead. Push on and maybe gain a bit on the downhill, apparently not he told me after that he didn’t touch his brakes coming down, very un- Mike. Keeping it together on the way back to Harlech, try to push on but lack of significant training beginning to tell.
Into transition, off with the coat, on with the shoes and away. Running like the wind, if the wind is trying to blow an Artic up a hill in loose sand. Keep telling yourself you love running, not working, scenery is nice though, up the dune, down the dune and onto the beach. A quick wave to Mike who has made the turn and is about 4 minutes ahead, he looks a bit worried.
I can honestly say that the run on the beach is the only time that I almost like running, except for all those streaming past that I beat on the bike. Having only run a handful of times since September (Tenby) and not much before then, 6.5 km is feeling like a very long way. Still I can see the Castle so it can’t be that far. I must be the only person who is glad to get to the steps that climb up the castle, it means that I can stop running and use my arms to haul myself up the handrail. Up to the top and across the line.
Another slate coaster ( nearly a full set now), find Mike, go to the Memorial Hall, get clothes, a complimentary bacon barm and a cup of tea, what more could you wish for?
Head back to try and catch Rob and Tilly finishing. Rob already gone, Tilly just finished, interestingly sans shoes. Terminator Tilly did 6.5 km on every surface imaginable in socks (don’t ask), still won her age group and beaming widely as usual.
Well - Mike beat me, for the first time at Harlech, I shouldn’t make excuses but will anyway. I can count on my fingers the total number of swims and runs I have done since Tenby, so wasn’t exactly match fit which is entirely my own fault so good on you Mike long may you reign (until next year).
Harlech is a great event for beginners right through to the Tilly’s of this world I recommend it highly, make a day out of it or even a weekend.