After a winter of very successful training and hard work it felt great to be back racing again. Such an amazing race to kick off the season as well, loads of hills and a very technical course, another HighTerrain Events masterpiece, it certainly lives up to its name and has to be the hardest (most fun?) of its type in the U.K. It was also my first multisport race since the Wasdale Triathlon way back in September, so I felt a little more nervous than usual standing on the start line. I knew the field had some great athletes racing this year so it would be a very good test of where the winters work had left me.
The format is 9km fell/mountain run, 25km MTB and 9km trail/fell to finish, with over 1600m of ascent/descent. The summits of Grisedale Pike, Seat How, Lords Seat and Barf are all visited on the runs.
I think the rustiness and lack of racing showed from the start, my warm up was not great and I was not fully switched on and ready for the fast 2km loop to start. A gap opened up to the leaders quickly, I decided not to spend any more than I was already. Never the less my head was down a bit, the race plan was to be out front and I thought I should have been. This is not something I usually worry about when I am into my racing more, much better to race your own race than someone else's and its pretty much essential to do this for the longer stuff. I settled in for the rest of the run, but never felt I got going till the final technical part of the descent. Single track down into the woods, steep and twisty, I finally felt I found my legs and had warmed up.
A bit of faffing in transition (its hard to undo laces with MTB gloves on, more rust!) and I headed out onto the bike leg. The trails at Whinlatter forest are great, but I have not been out on the MTB too often recently and do lack a bit of skill so I was pretty happy to make up some places early on and only lose a couple coming back into transition. I felt great on the ups, all the threshold work over the winter has left my biking legs in good shape, good news for the seasons main races. I enjoyed the bike but its hard to tell how you are doing, the trails are in the forest and twisty. On the way into transition I saw Dave Wilby (last years winner) just in front, so I had an idea the ride had been ok, I now wondered if holding back on the first run would pay off heading out onto the the final leg.
I knew straight away I felt good, I love running up hills, I enjoy it even more off the bike. Don't know why, something about the extra challenge of keeping the legs turning over, battling gravity at the same time and fighting the feeling to give in and walk. I know made up around 3 places on the run and actually felt stronger the further into it I got. More good signs that the diesel engine is waiting to be revved up for Celtman and Norseman. A very solid run split confirms I was right to hold back, it was close in the end, under 1min30 to first place and seconds between the rest.
Late to the party but a good performance for the first race of the season and great signs that all the training has paid off. Great to be back racing, time to build and tweak before the Slateman in May.
Recovery has been great, off to Torridon for 4 days end of this week, a little bit of training on the course and chance to get some mega miles in the legs after Sundays speed session!
Congrats to James Walker and Marie Meldrum, winners of Whinlatter Extreme.
Massive thanks to Dave at DPB Images for helping out with a lift to the race, he also took all the awesome photos :). Thanks to Zone3Wetsuits, LaSportiva, Blair Davies Coaching, CurraNZ , TrecNutrition and Designed2Run Sports Therapy as always, helping me concentrate on the training and racing!
Race results here.
MovesCount of the race here.
Strava Bike route here.
Next stop Torridon with Steve from MovieIt!
New Zealand blackcurrant supplement CurraNZ, from Health Currancy Ltd