First triathlon of 2018 and a race I had wanted to do for a while. I had heard a lot of good things about Harlech triathlon, the scenic course and the iconic finish line at the top of Harlech Castle. This race was all about getting that competitive edge back after a long winter of training. I knew the competition was going to be fierce, as there are a lot of talented athletes in and around North Wales. It was a very cold morning in Harlech, but the sun was out and minimum wind, so I was really looking forward to the race.
I didn’t have an aim for this particular race, I just wanted to put in a strong performance and see where I was over this distance. Pool swims are always difficult and I’m not a big fan of them, as there are two other people in your lane, who may be a lot faster or a lot slower than you. This was the case in Harlech. Swimming around, over and even under other swimmers in my lane was something expected to do and without doubt, this is what was required come race day.
My swim time was a bit off where I would have liked to have been, but I came out of the pool in a time of 5.35 (including T1) The transition area was on the grass, in the field next to the pool, so out of the fire exit I went and onto my bike. I chose to ride my new Giant Propel Advanced Pro 0 Disc, as this was the first opportunity to test the bike out in race conditions, to see how fast it actually is. The bike leg was an out and back course, with a steep climb up to the turn around point. I felt pretty good coming out of the pool and quickly got into my rhythm, pushing down on the cranks with every ounce of power I had. I came into T2 in a time of 33.52 for the 21km bike leg.
I knew the run was the toughest part of the race, as it takes you along the beachfront, over the sand dunes and back to the foot of Harlech Castle. Once you get to the bottom of the castle there is just a small matter of famous steps up to the finish inside Harlech Castle. I felt decent coming off the bike and I knew I had to run hard to have any chance of a podium. It’s difficult to know where you are actually placed during the race, as it is a staggered start, so pool swim triathlons are basically a race against yourself. Running along the beach front on the soft sand was difficult, but I didn’t hold anything back and a quick glance at my watch, my heart rate was 194 bpm. Anyone that knows me, knows I always race a sprint tri in Zone 5. #Zone5AllTheWay. I approached the foot of the castle and saw the famous steps staring back at me. I put my head down and attacked the first 10 steps, then boom, I was done. The first time I have ever walked during a sprint distance triathlon. I had underestimated the run course and paid the price. I pretty much walked to the top of the steps with an HR of 190. Ouch. I saw the finish line and jogged a few paces over it to finish the 6km run in a time of 24.25 and an overall time of 1.05.11, which was good enough for 2nd place.
A brilliant course and very well organised. I would certainly recommend Harlech triathlon for any triathlete out there. The course is one of the hardest around, but the finish line makes up for all the pain you go through.