Home » Uncategorized » The Brutal Extreme Triathlon, LLanberis, Snowdonia – half ironman distance (plus a few extra miles) 15th September 2018 – Linda Roberts

The Brutal Extreme Triathlon, LLanberis, Snowdonia – half ironman distance (plus a few extra miles) 15th September 2018 – Linda Roberts

I’ve just been reading other people’s race reports online of the Double Brutal (double ironman) – the 2nd lady (there were only 2) finished in around 46 hrs… Puts my effort into perspective! The one thing about doing a Half if you’ve already done a Full is that when it gets tough you can say to yourself “it’s only a Half” and “at least you’re not doing the Double” – these thoughts got me round!

I entered somewhat last minute, wanting an end of season finale as it were, and figured my training for IM Nice and a couple of recent recces of the Velo South route with Lizzie would get me round, which they did. Booking accommodation is always a bit of a nightmare if you’re not quick off the mark (I hear Wales has already sold out of rooms for 2019!?). The whole of LLanberis was fully booked, but there was a last minute cancellation at a cosy B+B near race start, so that was a relief – Jules wasn’t up for camping.

We drove up on the Friday, missed the turning to Llanberis because we were too busy stopping to take photos of the stunning views, and ended up driving round the whole bike route by mistake just to get to our B+B. A 5.5hr journey took us 8 hrs with all the stops! The bike route kind of encircles Snowdon, and is 3000m elevation for the full iron distance.

As usual I tried to eat porridge on race morning – as usual I resorted to brioche and a banana. I put my wetsuit on early to keep warm – plus a neoprene wetsuit vest, neoprene boots and gloves, and 3 swimming hats (I hadn’t been able to find a neoprene balaclava to fit in time). The 3 swim hats gave me a head ache as they were so tight. Apart from the boots and gloves, I hadn’t ever swum in the vest (or 3 swim hats) before (probably no one has ever swum in 3 swim hats) – the vest worked a treat – although generally best to never try anything new on race day!

People were saying that the 16 degree temp was positively balmy for Lake Padarn. Jules kept questioning why I’d entered a triathlon with a notoriously cold swim. Anyway, we were told to get in the water 5 mins before to acclimatise, which I know is excellent practice, but I couldn’t bring myself to fully submerge until about 2 minutes to go (I realise that 16 degrees isn’t cold for most of you hardy swimmers reading this). I kept intentionally wide of the pack, and ended up with a longer swim than advertised. At several points I was drafting red hats (all the green hats were doing the Half or Full – only the red hats were doing the Double). I felt bad drafting someone who had to do 8 laps of the chilly dark waters, whilst I was only doing 2, but they were speedy. Those doing the Full and Double also had to get out after 2 laps, to allow them a cup of tea to warm up, and apparently there was cake. The medics were observing all the Full/Double athletes as they got out, to check they weren’t too cold before they got back in for another two or six laps.

Tempting? …..

Onto the bike, with a waterproof coat, winter gloves, shorts and overshoes. Never ridden with shorts and overshoes before, but it wasn’t a time to be fashion conscious, and I was glad of them when the downpour started. It didn’t last long, the sun came out, and I loved the first lap, including the long drag up Pen y Pass and flying down the other side, watching out for wayward sheep on the road. Onto the 2nd lap of the bike, and half way up the steep hill near the start I noticed my front tyre looked a bit low – “Looks like that needs some air” I thought to myself, willing it not to be a puncture… I pulled over, and was just trying to force those tricky tyre leavers in, watching others that I’d previously overtaken go by, when a car drew up, and Welsh guy shouted, “Do you need a hand?” He had a car full of bike gear, wheels, track pump etc., so I thought he was the race mechanic, but he was just a supporter, and having completed the race last year himself he was pleased to be able to help. In other ”branded” events having any outside assistance would have resulted in a disqualification, but The Brutal is a friendly, “let’s try and get everyone round” type of a race.

The easy-going nature of the race worked again in my favour, as after the first 8k of the run I realised my favourite race socks had a hole in the heel, and I’d got a blister! I had to go back into T2 anyway, as after completing a hilly 8k lake lap, you then collected your mountain rucksack, before embarking on Snowdon. The mountain kit included coat, waterproof trousers, space blanket, map, compass and a mandatory blister pack! I’d never taken Compeed with me on a race before, but was so glad that I had them. Jules came into T2 with me, gave me his hole-free socks, helped me put the Compeed plaster on, and after a quick check in with the medics (all from Llanberis Mountain Rescue team) I set off determinedly up the Llanberis Path to conquer Snowdon.

Last time we went up Snowdon was in winter several years ago – we had three 10 year old children with us and had to abort mission near the top as we couldn’t stand up in the wind and should’ve had crampons to walk on the ice; so I was looking forward to less extreme weather this time. It was ok in the time I got up and down (14k total – 1 hr 30 up, 1 hr down), but then the Mountain Rescue guys said the weather was too dangerous and they stopped those doing the Full and Double from going up Snowdon – glad I got to do it though. They also changed the bike route for Full/Double athletes, due to the wind.

Sowdon was SO busy with members of the public enjoying a leisurely walk up – I zigzagged my way up, running when I could, mainly fast walking when it was too steep for me to run, trying to get through the crowds of people – it was ridiculously busy, and I was almost queuing to get to the top. There was a lonely medic/Mountain Rescue guy at the top, with a tent almost flattened by the wind, taking people’s time and numbers – tough job. I enjoyed the descent (although my quads took a few days to recover) and didn’t get overtaken by anyone going up or down Snowdon – in fact I overtook quite a few guys, which always feels good. I think my ironman training earlier in the year gave me the endurance, as apart from feeling generally tired and thinking I’d never actually reach the summit as it seemed so far away, my legs held up well, and I finished fairly strong.

One thing that affected me mentally was seeing lots of women ahead of me on their way down Snowdon, when I was just going up – I had completely forgotten about the Duathlon, and just thought I was really slow compared to all the other ladies, but in fact they were doing less! A reminder to always “race your own race” and don’t worry about what other people are doing.

I finished 5th lady out or 12; 43/113 overall. I was happy with that. After a pub dinner, a good sleep, and a cooked breakfast it was crazy to see people still out on the course the next day, fighting through the wind and rain to try and become Double ironman finishers – not something I aspire to, but huge congratulations to all those that did it!

I 100% recommend this race (the Half, nothing more – well maybe the Full another year…) – Brutal Events were brilliant. #thebrutal#mostbrutalistbrutal