My first season doing triathlons was spent off road as I have always owned a mountain bike. Mountain bike triathlons are far less prevalent than road tris. This is probably due to a number of factors one of which is finding a lake close enough to a worthy MTB course that is worth racing on.
This race was on the scottish borders at a lake called St. Mary’s Loch. They offer a sprint (750 swim, 15k bike, 5k run) and a standard distance (1500 swim, 30k bike, 10k run). The location was absolutely fantastic and the atmosphere was really great. Most people racing camped by the lake the night before, there were BBQ’s going and it was a perfect chance to mingle with the potential winners and the guys who were just there for some fun.
I gave the standard distance a bash since a sprint doesn’t warrant a drive to Scotland! Only 94 people took part. About 120 did the sprint. I’d only ever done one sprint road tri on a borrowed road bike and didn’t train with any real conviction or goals in mind. My aim was to see how hard it was and make sure I completed it. I had confidence in my swimming and running but wasn’t sure how racing on a mountain bike was going to pan out.
The swim was 2 laps in a lake surrounded by hills so green I felt I was in a painting. Water was fresh (14 degrees) and I came out the water in 23:45 which I was pleased with. My transition entry/exit involved a “dibber” which I had never seen before or since but worked well.
Got on the bike and straight up a big rocky hill. I really was not prepared at all for what was in store on the bike!! The first downhill section was in long wet grass and people were dropping left right and centre! I came off my bike 4 times on the first lap (one great one where I went right over the handle bars!). There was a very steep rocky section which most people walked. The second lap was a little better since I had some idea of what was going on. Plus we were lapping the sprint wave (they started after us) and being able to pass some people as opposed to getting overtaken boosted my confidence. I realised that my bike could handle a lot more than I could and that I am a pussy cat that needs to train harder! But it was fun nonetheless. The views were really breathtaking from the top! Rather not reveal my bike time!
Came into transition and went off on the one lap trail/fell run course that went around the lake for about 3km then UP! Up for ages. By this time my lack of training had really exposed me and my running turned to jogging then to fast walking up the fell. I felt happy that I hadn’t set myself a time to beat because I would have most definitely been disappointed. I reached the summit and ran down the hill with a big smile on my face posing for the camera guys dotted around the course.
Crossed the finish line at least!
I definitely need to pay more respect to these races and have since joined TriLondon, got a road bike and have my winter goals set up and a training regime that I hope will yield better results next season!
I highly recommend the Durty Triathlon as a fun race to do if you have the time to drive to the Scottish borders!
Thanks for reading!