The Snowman Triathlon
1 August 2017 - By James Montgomery
It’s billed as one of the toughest triathlons in the country, The Snowman, based at the Plas-y-Brenin National Mountain Centre at Capel Curig, giving a hint to what to expect for the day…. On the Saturday night before, sitting in the bar of the Royal Oak were 4 nervous looking WRC male members. Stuart Mills, Alex Stuckey, myself and the protagonist whose “great idea” this was, Tony Wallen were being heckled by our respective better halves, Wendy, Liz, Theresa and Brigid, who seemed to know more than we did on the pain and suffering we would be inflicting on ourselves in a mere 12 hours time.
Cometh the hour…. the 1000mtrs swim took place in one of the Llynnau Mymbyr lakes and with the temperature at 14 degC, wetsuits were compulsory also, with a strong wind blowing up the valley from Snowdon, rising majestically in the not-too-far disance, the lake had kicked up a bit of a chop by the time of the 8:30 start. Tony and myself were off in the second wave; Alex and Stuart were off in the third wave at 8:40. Predicatably, Stuart was out of the water first, followed closely by Alex, both having passed both me and Tony. I was having leaky goggle issues and had to keep stopping to sort those out, loosing several minutes in the process.
Staggering out of the lake and somehow making our way to T1, Stuart, having had a fast change and Alex had already flown off on the the 70kms bike leg, Tony was just about to set off While I was trying to put some life back into my frozen hands so I could attempt something resembling a transition! Then off onto the bike. The course can only be described as seriously tough, with two pretty major climbs and several other tough drags. The first section was rolling but into a strong headwind which I found particular hard going, but there were some good fast sections where you could really crank up the pace, a steep technical descent and a super-fast 50mph+ descent. In short, for a bike rider it had everything – it was a fun course. Stuart was unsure about how to pace the ride until Tony caught and passed him and he then decided to follow at Tony’s pace, mindful to keep the regulation 10mtrs behind. We all finished under the 3 hours, which while discussing race tactics the previous night thought that would be a reasonble target to meet, with Tony putting in the fastest bike leg, Stuart a few minutes behind, Alex a further minute back and myself, evidently having spent far too much of the route enjoying the scenary about 20 minutes off the others.
Onto the run, which was more of a 9kms walk really, although I managed a run of sorts as far as where Brigid, Wendy and Liz were standing to look good for the photos. The route was basically straight up the side of an 872mtrs mountain, Moel Siabod, and back down again. The path was very rocky and steep in places and quite boggy and peaty in others. The views on the way up were simply stunning, but sadly the weather closed in at the summit and visiblity at the top was very poor at best. Stuart put in a stunningly good run, pulling away from Tony early on the climb and finishing the leg in a very respectable time. Tony and myself pleased with a sub-two hours run and Alex not too far behind.
Afterwards, getting our gear together in transition at the end and it has to be said, we were all in bit of a state to the extent that Alex was completely oblivious to the female competitor who was comprehensively de-robing herself right in front of him!!
A great weekend away, we’re all glad we did it, but not sure that any of us would want to do it again, I’m sure we’ll all be feeling the effects in our limbs for a few days to come. Also, a big thank you to our support crew, aka the “bag ladies”, Brigid, Liz, Theresa and Wendy. Your enthusiastic shouts were most welcome, especially as we set off on that “run”!!
Swim: 1000 meters; Bike: 70Kms; Run: 9Kms
Stuart Tony Alex James
Swim 00:22:24 00:28:49 00:23:19 00:32:21
Bike 02:35:10 02:32:04 02:36:20 02:57:16
Run 01:30:23 01:51:25 02:13:25 01:52:13
Overall 04:34:15 05:00:17 05:24:00 05:38:18