Llandudno Sea Triathlon / Sea Duathlon / Sea 5k

Due to my laissez-faire attitude to blogging, most of you will already know this event was a bit of a washout.  Despite this, you’re getting a full blog-up of my weekend 🙂

We arrived on Friday, and had time to take a little drive around the Great Orme to check out the bike course.  We paid the man in the booth (turns out the Orme is a toll road!) and set off.  The first stage of the bike looked like quite the drag…

…but, in a perverse way, I was looking forward to it.  On our drive, we also learnt that the Welsh word for “triathlon” is “triathlon”.  Funny that.

The descent on the other side of the Great Orme proved to be nothing short of terrifying.  Steep, winding sections of road, peppered liberally with potholes and other road furniture would prove to be quite the challenge come race day.  Combine that with the potential for a tumble over the sheer cliff faces at the side of the road, and a plunge into the depths of the  Irish Sea, and you have one terrifying bike course.  The road markings also seemed to be offering some advice…

We had to go to register at a hotel on the prom in Llandudno on Saturday.  A lot of people were annoyed by having to register the day before the race, but it wasn’t a problem for us and in some ways I prefer it – it’s half an hour extra in bed on race morning in my mind!  You could also register on the Sunday by appointment if you needed to.  We picked up our chips and got our numbers marked on our arms and legs by a lady with the largest Sharpie I’ve ever seen.  This proved a little problematic for me, as I was wearing skin tight jeans I couldn’t roll up – so I scooted off to the loo with a spare Sharpie and marked my own legs.  I ended up looking like I’d been scrawled on by a 6 year old; who’d have thought writing on your own legs would be so difficult?

During registration, Royles were also handing out a free number belt or water bottle for signing up to their mailing list.  As you may have noticed, I like a freebie, so I pocketed a bottle and the boyfriend snaffled up a number belt as he’d forgotten his. The bottle came in handy back at the campsite, as we’d not packed any cups…

Sunday morning soon rolled around, and torrential rain and dense muggy fog threatened to put a damper on proceedings.  Despite this,  the majority of those registered turned up to race and there were only a few empty racking spaces in transition.

I’m not a particularly keen sea swimmer, so Llandudno was going to be a key part of the build up to my 70.3 race in Ireland.  I donned my wetsuit well in advance of my wave start (to keep warm and dry!) and went down to watch the wave ahead of me kick things off.  Everyone queued up on the slipway to begin the swim, and the majority of the people in Llandudno seemed to have turned out on the pebble beach to watch the start.

The sea looked menacing; as the first wave waited to start, the wind changed.  The swell rose, the safety kayakers rising with the waves and disappearing as each one passed.  The first wave waited.  And waited.  And then waited some more.  From my vantage point on the beach, it became obvious that the swim would be cancelled. The swell was tipping the kayaks about like loose change in a washing machine, and eventually the inevitable announcement came: the swim was cancelled and we’d be running 5k instead; it was duathlon time.

I was relieved, to say the least.  I went back to transition and  changed out of my wetsuit and back into my trackies and waterproof coat to wait while the race organisers set out a 5k run course on the promenade.  The wind picked up further, and the rain really started to pound.  In transition, I attempted to fashion some sort of waterproofing for my kit – my bike shoes, run shoes, gels and towel were all getting soaked as we stood around waiting to start, but my shopper bag I use to carry all my gear down in wasn’t going to cut the mustard.  I used my race belt to strap my helmet to my handle bars and hoped it would all still be there when I got back.  It seemed to take forever for the organisers to set out the extra run course, and by the time my wave was called to the start, I was frozen to the bone.

The gun went off and I began my two laps which made up the 5k run.  I went out quite hard in order to get warmed up, which was working for about the first 3k.  Then something went “PING!” in my back.  It was agony.  I didn’t know you could hurt your back running!  I was hunched up like a little old lady as I shuffled into transition.  I looked at my bike shoes.  There was about half an inch of water in the bottom of them.  I looked up at the Great Orme, and couldn’t see the top of the first climb due to the fog.  I stretched out to try to ease the twinge in my back, with little success.  At that point I decided to call it a day and slunk off back to the van, having completed the world’s most expensive 5k run.

In retrospect, the organisers made the correct choice to cancel the swim – the kayakers were struggling, so how would the swimmers have coped?  There was a lot of bravado in transition, but it just would not have been safe to swim.  I was disappointed to see a few people, both competitors and their accompanying spectators, getting mouthy with the organisers.  The organisers had to make a tough decision, considering the abilities of the weakest swimmers, and they did what they thought was right – who are you to question their decision? Add in some quite frankly disgusting language, and you have an ugly scene.  Most people who were annoyed and no longer wanted to race managed to leave without throwing their two-pence in. If you weren’t one of these people, I say “TUT!”.  You know who you are.

Even though I felt like a complete wimp for not toughing it out and getting the job done, there was one saving grace – at least the goody bag was ace.  There was also a delicious Clif Bar in there, but I couldn’t control myself, and ate it before I had chance to snap this piccy!


About Sophie

I'm an aerospace engineering postgrad student with a passion for triathlon and the great outdoors...
This entry was posted in Race Review, Races, Triathlon. Bookmark the permalink.

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