One of Wales’ best kept triathlon secrets…
Paul Hayward took part in The Slateman Triathlon for the first time this past weekend, and once again found that Wales delivered another “special” triathlon.
If brutal AND beautiful appeals to you, read on…
There is something about triathlon when it takes place in Wales; something special. I cannot quite put my finger on it as I am unsure if it is the locations, the locals, the competitors it seems to bring or just the atmosphere at their races. However, I have always been blown away by the whole experience when I have raced in Wales.
I should say though that this feeling was previously limited to the South of Wales until I took on the “Slateman” triathlon by Always Aim High Events. In doing so I found an event that is possibly one of Wales’ best kept secrets and something very special.
The Slateman is held in Llanberis, adjacent to Llyn Padarn (a 2-mile natural lake) and in the gaze of the iconic Mount Snowdon and the surrounding Snowdonia National Park over the course of two days. Saturday offers a sprint triathlon (400m swim, 20km bike and 6km run) while Sunday provides the standard (ish) distance triathlon (1000m swim, 51km bike and 11km run), with both races offering the swim in Llyn Padarn, a cycle through Snowdonia National Park and a run through and around the slate mountains. For the hardened competitors (or simply crazy), Always Aim High Events offer the chance to race both days and earn the title “Savage”.
From the moment you arrive to transition to the moment you cross the line, you cannot help but be blown away by the beautiful scenery, stunning location and fantastic atmosphere. Such is the pull of this race that on speaking to some fellow athletes whilst racking my bike, I found myself alone in racing this event for the first time as it draws back competitors again and again, hungry for more of this race and enthusiastically reminiscing about previous years. This is quite something given the “legend” of the nine degree swim (or colder) some years, the immediate hill climb to Nant Peris on the bike (which is both beautiful and challenging), from transition or the simply brutal trail run through, around and up the surrounding mountains. It is not an easy race by any means.
You often read that races are set in “outstanding countryside” but this one really does deliver, the location and the routes are simply epic. Such is the beauty of this race that it is easy to forget the 2,056 foot of elevation gain as you cycle in and around Snowdonia Park or 520 foot of elevation through and around the mountains as you take on the standard distance, and instead you curse yourself for not bringing a camera or stopping for at least one picture as the views mesmerise you.
On making the final run back down the slate mountains to the finish line, you are met with a wall of noise from the locals, the supporters and the volunteers all cheering for you and screaming your name which just increases the smile on your face (despite the pain in your legs) and this is before you even hear the music and the announcer at the finish line.
I was asked by the race announcer, as I pretty much collapsed after two days of racing by the finish line, how the event was and the “Savage distance”. I smiled and said “brutal” to which he laughed. This was possibly due to every ounce of energy being left out on the course, this being said what I should have said was “brutal but beautiful”.
Such is the magic of this race, I am converted and I will be back next year without a doubt. Just do not tell too many people about this race as it is one of Wales’ best kept secrets.