Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Coniston Old Man triathlon, the best, most under entered event in the UK??

I had heard great things about this very local event from various friends and past competitors. Once described as the toughest 70.3 in the country, until Wasdale tri came into existence, it had been on my list for a few years. I had heard it was a well organised event with a friendly atmosphere that seems to accompany all My Tri Events but always a little low on entries. I knew I would enjoy the course, 33% climbs on the bike and a proper fell run with an awesome descent from the Old Man of Coniston.

Almost perfect timing for a last stretch of the legs before the Celtman in 10 days time. It was a tentative decision as its a little closer than I would have liked, but my recovery has been great so far this year (Berry Power;)), I feel fit and decided if I did not feel good I had no worries about pulling out or easing off. Its all training after all. :)

There is no doubting the course suited me, so I had some expectations going into the race but did not want to bury myself for a result and risk injury or a slow recovery. I wanted to feel in control and smooth for the whole race, so I had to manage those expectations and accept the outcome. This was all going to plan, until the final 2km of the run, but it all turned out very well in the end.

The Swim-

Kind of less said the better for this really, cant work out if it was slightly long or I was very slow but its just one swim in one race. If it was long I swam well, if not, I was well off my normal tempo training pace. Anyway, chimp aside (Thanks Blair!:)), I missed the start as I was making my way back from warming up to find some faster feet, lesson learnt. With no one to draft at least it was a nice clear swim round, I came out of the water in 6th place, but already 6mins down on the leader, Sam Steele from Newcastle University Tri.

The Bike-

I love this bike course! A steep, hilly start with my 2 favorite Lake District passes ;) (Wrynose and Hardknott), followed by the awesome Birker Fell interspersed with some flat to rolling sections at the back end. Oh and one more hill, Kirby Moor. 1500m of climbing in about 70km, is it possible to save the legs for the run with 33% gradients thrown in? Sort of, but those hills never feel any easier, I find a HR monitor really useful for this, early on  its easy to push on a bit to much with the adrenaline. Each hill passed in control and below my pre determined HR. I planned to ride around the 2hr.40 mark and came into transition just under. Very happy with this and knowing I was clear in second place, I asked Jo how far in front the leader was. 12mins now! Sam had put in a super bike split for that course, a really good effort. I knew I had my strongest discipline to come, a proper fell run, so I thought I might catch him, but it was quite a lot to make up.

The Run-

Awesome does not do justice for this run! Basically following the Coniston horseshoe, over Wetherlam, Swirl How, Brim Fell and lastly the Coniston Old Man, before a rocky, technical slate descent, another 1000m of climbing. Starting the run I knew my legs felt good, a nice flat run out for about 2km before climbing onto the ridge leading to Wetherlam. This is steep in places, but I was happy to run most of it and felt good doing so. I kind of forgot about chasing anyone and just enjoyed moving smoothly over the technical terrain, enjoying being in the hills despite the clag and mist. The course was superbly marked so no getting lost to worry about. I felt sure footed on the greasy rocky sections and soon reached the summit of the Old Man. No idea how far I was behind, did not even bother asking, too busy enjoying the excellent running. The descent was fantastic, I felt smooth and relaxed, not pushing and knowing that I was in 2nd and could relax to the finish, saving the legs for the next race. Then I spotted Sam, about 3km from the finish, not moving great, I knew I was going to catch him, it had to be quick, decisive and ideally on the last bit of technical trail before the road. I did not want be racing someone clearly as fast as him on the final flat section! I put in an effort, opened a gap and that is how it stayed. He did not break though, I had to keep on the gas till the final 400m into the finish line.

Movescount Link for the run

It was a nice confidence boost to pick up the win and a great little battle with Sam at the end. I learn more every time I race and the relaxed feeling having let go of a few expectations before I started meant I enjoyed every bit of the race. Certainly something to bear in mind for the future.

Thing is, I cant see why this great little event does not get more entries. I have seen this written in the past, now I understand. It adds adventure to your standard triathlon, with a very well organised and friendly feel. Hopefully it will get the attention it deserves next year, Its part of an amazing weekend of swim events and triathlons put on by My Tri, perfect for a family weekend, running commentary, stuff for kids to do, food on site and even camping. Long may this race continue. You could even do the double, Standard Triathlon the day before then the Old Man....There's an idea :)

Next up its the first of the big ones. Cannot wait :)

Massive thanks to the team at My Tri, TrueMountain and all the amazing marshals that made the event possible, 10/10 from me, great job, see you next year!

Photos are courtesy of MovieIt and TrueMountain, thanks guys!

As always thanks for the support from Zone3, CurraNZ, Eleven Sprocket, La Sportiva, Blair Davies Coaching, TrecNutrition and Designed2Run.

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