Slateman Race report by Anne Johnson – 1000m swim, 50k bike, 11.6k run
I first heard about the Slateman three years ago from a race report in 220 magazine. Coming from a fell running background and just able to swimming 400m in the pool, the event appealed to me as a future goal.
On the morning of the race, Bill and I set off for Llanberis at 5am. Bill, not yet as enthused by triathlon as me, but there for much needed moral support. I felt as prepared as I could be for the swim and my cycling had improved a lot. The run should have been my strongest discipline, but having had so much problem with my knees and calfs, I didn’t know how it would go. The rain was meant to hold off until late afternoon but the heavens opened as I registered . Hadn’t taken any wet weather gear to registration so everything was soaked in the transition area , as it was for most of the other 800+ competitors. Nearly didn’t get in the transition area as I’d thrown my wristband away. Spent 5 minutes rummaging through the bin for it!
Waiting to be called for the swim was as always nerve racking. Laura and I had been standing in the rain trying to keep warm for half an hour. Laura had a last minute panic when she realised her trisuit was still round her waist under her wetsuit! Shivering, I delayed getting in the water until the last minute. The water felt surprisingly warm at 12.4 degrees, probably warmer than the air temp. All the mad cold winter swims with Louise and Caroline must have helped. Very excited to be swimming in the beautiful Lake Padarn, no waves like Gaddings the week before. Swam as well as I could for the 1k and hoped for a swift transition.
My hands and feet were so cold, they weren’t working. I remember looking at my bike shoes thinking if I take my foot off the ground to put it in a shoe, I’m going to fall over, which I did. Sat in the mud and sheep poo for 5 minutes trying to put gear on.
So relieved when I finally got going on the bike route. I’ve run all the mountains in Snowdonia but done very little biking there. Still raining hard and slightly concerned my fingers still weren’t working. Changing gear was a struggle, left hand not working! Overtook lots of people going up the Llanberis Pass, amazed how many were struggling. Setting off down the other side, my fingers were still blocks of wood. Still couldn’t use left hand to change onto the big cog. Eventually managed it on the 3rdattempt with my right hand. The rain finally stopped at about 25k and the sun started to come out. The route was fantastic and the mountains as always magnificent. Loved it.
Transition 2 wasn’t as bad. Feet still frozen but hands now working. Set off on the 11.6k run hoping for the best. Started reeling people in fairly quickly. Loved the climb up the slate quarries, fell running legs came into play. Bill was there cheering me on as we started descending. Ignored complaining knees. The route through the wood was twisty and slippy. Had a good somersault fall on the wet slabs onto bad knee! Told myself, get up and carry on, you’re a fellrunner. Quads started to seize up a km from the end. The lack of running at any pace or distance above 8km was taking its toll. So glad when the finish came into sight. The atmosphere and cheering running into the finish was uplifting. Spent the next 10 minutes grazing on the oranges, bananas, nuts and pic ‘n mix. I’d only eaten a tiny cube of flapjack since starting and had one swig of water.
It wasn’t long before Simon Fox came flying into the finish who’d started well behind me. A much more impressive finish than mine, followed by Louise, Caroline and Laura. I didn’t know how I’d done but Bill and I stayed for the presentation just in case. I was over the moon when they called me up for 2nd FV50. Really pleased to finish 33rd female overall out of 166 in a time of 3hrs 26 mins. A great end to an amazing day. Would recommend this event to anyone who wants a bit of an adventure!