Lakesman Tri – Graeme Reid
Having recently re-entered the Triathlon world after a short hiatus of 20 years I have realised that my strength (such as it is) lies in going long and slow rather than short and fast. My wife says that it is an age thing but I think it’s just because I’m a stubborn bugger who doesn’t like to give up.
I completed IM Bolton last year in a somewhat disappointing time after being plagued by two dodgy Achilles tendons for several months so decided to seek some kind of retribution by entering this years Lakesman Triathlon after reading lots of rave reviews from its inaugural event last year. Although not an official “Ironman”, it is still “an ironman”.
Originally, this was going to be a family affair with a nice weekend in Keswick but son Nr. 1 had decided to disappear to Canada for the Summer (working apparently!), son Nr. 2 was on a school trip to France, daughter Nr. 1 was going to a concert so that meant wife Nr. 1 had to stay at home to look after dog Nr. 1 and daughter Nr. 1. And so it was that I headed down on Saturday morning with my tent and bike for company.
Registration takes place on the Saturday and is easy, and well set up. The race organiser (Phil) has taken his cue from official Ironman branded events as the Athlete’s Guide is a cut and paste job from Bolton and the blue bag, red bag and white bag transition set up is the same. I should say right from the start that this is a fantastically well organised, friendly and athlete focused event and whilst it takes many of it’s cues from IM events, it is far more relaxed with absolutely no ego at all.
Bike racked, transition setup and tattoos and numbers applied, it was back to the campsite for a relaxed evening and early night. The event at the neighbouring rugby club had other ideas however and whilst the band were very good, loud 80’s cover versions until midnight did not make for a peaceful night – especially with the alarm set for 3:45am!
Sunday morning dawned (just) and we arrived on the shores of Derwentwater for a 6:00am start. Not a breath of wind or a cloud in the sky meant the swim was simply stunning. There were around 300 starters and I positioned myself towards the front on the far right of the pack (One day I’ll learn to bilateral breath!). Off we went with a drone filming overhead and as I turned my head to breath, I was meant with stunning vistas of the Lakeland fells on a 3.8km single loop of the lake. I came out of the water in 1:11 which was only a couple of minutes down on my target time but I was feeling good and really enjoyed the swim.
A short run into transition and I was off on the bike into the building heat of the morning. Rookie mistake – no sun cream!
The bike route is billed as a fast course and with only approx 4,000 feet of climbing over it’s 112 miles, it certainly is – unless of course your bike breaks! 43 miles in, feeling good and I stand on the pedals coming out of a roundabout when one of my cranks slipped. If your cranks should be at 12 o’clock and 6 o’clock, mine were now at 12 o’clock and 3 o’clock. I tried swearing at it and kicking it but that didn’t seem to work so, long story short, a friendly spectator went home, retrieved an allen key and we managed to fix the crank – 33 mins of standing by the roadside watching dozens of riders fly past. Putting my mechanical misery out of my mind I pushed on and really enjoyed the rest of the route. I could sense my shoulders were starting to fry as the temperature continued to rise but a stiff tail wind and beautiful views kept my mind distracted. My targeted bike split of circa 6 hours had stretched to 6:28 but given my prolonged spell by the roadside, I was happy with how things had gone.
Back into T2 and a change of shoes and liberal application of sun cream, I headed off on the 5 lap, 5.2 mile run loop around Keswick.
Within 5 mins of setting off, my right quad decided it didn’t like the heat and cramped in protest. I stopped to stretch it out but in doing so my hamstring cramped in sympathy and thus the pattern was set for the run. I could run for about 2 minutes then just before the cramp hit I would stop, walk for 30 seconds or so until it eased and allowed me to start running again. Aid stations were every couple of miles and they spent most of the time pouring water over rather than into the runners and their enthusiasm and encouragement were fantastic. The start of each lap was rewarded with a wrist band and once you collected all five, you were on your last lap. Despite fleeting thoughts of mugging some of my fellow runners to steal one of their bands, I plodded on and eventually collected my full set and headed onto the last lap.
I crossed the line in 12hrs 50mins which was some way off my target but given my earlier mechanical misfortunes and the oven like temperatures I was happy to finish at all and it was 50 minutes faster than Bolton.
Once over the line, I was presented with a large lump of Lakeland slate masquerading as a medal, a very nice tee shirt and several photo opportunities before heading to the Athlete hospitality tent for a bewildering selection of food. Hot food, stick toffee pudding, cheese and biscuits, tea, coffee – the best post-race offering bar none.
Part of the reason I wrote this report was to recount my own experience but I also wanted to make people aware of this fantastic race. It has all the organisation and set-up of a big budget event but with none of the ego. It is very good value – you can pay your entry fee in instalments, you get all the goodies you would normally expect, all the high res photos taken by professional photographers on the day are free to download and it is in a beautiful part of the world only 2½ hours from Glasgow. Next year they will run a Half distance event as well and entries open next week. It’s growing reputation means that this will sell out so don’t hang around if you want some Lakesman action.
posted by Graeme Reid on 21/06/2017