Slateman Race Report and Tips
Where do I begin? I entered the Slateman back in January, I had read a lot about the race; the beautiful course, the toughest triathlon in the UK, running up a quarry, an icy cold swim and a very friendly and well organised race. I’m not sure why but I was drawn to the race. I love Wales, having gone to university in Aberystwyth. It was after entering that I realised the swim was on average 11degrees celsius and for someone that hates cold water I started to panic! Training had had its up and downs as always, a few niggles and a bad case of flu in April had put me out for a good two and a half weeks and it wasn’t long after it was race day.
After a 4 hour drive we arrived to a very pleasant and warm Llanberis. The sprint race was on that day and we wondered around the event village and dipped a toe in the lake. It felt chilly but apparently was a record 13.8degrees celsius.
I registered which helped save time in the morning, the area was buzzing with triathletes and had a great vibe. We had a little wonder around the run course, walking up the first hill on the footpath it was steep! I’m glad we did as I would have thought that was the main hill otherwise which could have lead me to a shocker in the race.
With a belly full of porridge, I headed off to transition at a leisurely time of 8:30am. The sun was behind the clouds and I hoped it would come out in the next hour. Heading to the 1k swim in Llyn Padarn I was nervous, the water felt very cold. As the men went off I tried to get into the water to acclimatise. I couldn’t quite get my breath and before I knew we were off. I started with a strange head above water swim but in a couple of minutes settled into a decent front crawl. Starting at the back of the pack I started over taking and was in a mid pack by the first bouy. Here I panicked for some irritating reason, a lady decided to constantly swim over me with swimmers both sides and in front I resorted to breastroke wanting to be out the group and have some space (though I need to get used to swimming in a pack as this will save a lot of energy in longer races). After dropping back I got back into my rhythm. I’d also forgotten to start my Garmin so had no idea what time I was on. It was great to see James in transition he then ran next to me all the way to transition videoing me which was quite amusing.
T1 was slow and faffy, I was cold and it took me forever to get my wetsuit off. I also added a gilet and arm warmers as the sun still hadn’t appeared…
The bike starts by climbing the Llanberis Pass and totals 51k, Llanberis Pass is in my Another Top 100 Climbs Book so I was pleased to tick that off! The bike course is just stunning, beautiful views of Snowdonia throughout and lovely smooth roads, however there is no flat it’s up and down. It was also windy and during the course I found it was difficult to know where to brake and which direction the road would twist after the next bend. I highly recommend a full bike recce it would have saved me a fair few minutes.
The first climb starts nice and gently but it gets steep very soon and this is all before you’ve had a chance to warm your legs up, I felt a bit flat and wasn’t sure why but looking back it was probably because I wasn’t warm. It took me a good 30mins to get going on the bike, however after an appalling swim I started passing others which gave me a boost. There was great local support, residents had come out to ring bells and cheer us on and a great crowd greeted me as I flew into T2 with a smooth transition, for once I was onto the run.
As I started the run I remembered that I hadn’t had any fuel yet, I hadn’t taken anything during the bike, I couldn’t take my hands off down the hills and uphill I was working (silly I know!) I took two gels for the run and had one at 6k.
The 11.6km run climbs through the slate mines at the back of ‘Electric Mountain’ and I loved it, but it’s so tough. You start with a steep climb up to a castle, then have 1.5 km of mostly flat until the big climb/mountain. The climb just went on and on, it was steep and I just set a goal to get to the next switchback, every part of my body was telling me to walk and just as I was on the brink of walking I saw James pop up (how had he got up there so quickly? I had just seen him in T2? I found out later he had found a short cut) I couldn’t walk with him there so with my lungs feeling like they were going to explode I carried on, James was skipping up and taking pictures of me, it was quite encouraging but at the time when he lied about the top being around the next corner I hated him!
Finally, I reached the summit, the views were spectacular. The rest of the run was very pretty through the woods, however don’t be fooled there’s two very tough hills further down. I felt great constantly over taking people and as I heard the roar of the crowds at the finish I sprinted in.
What a race! Tired yes, broken yes but I had finished and I was pleased with my performance (bar swim and t1) and I have to agree there’s something very special about this race which makes me want to return next year..
18th female / 130 (13th Female Open)
167 /666 total
Here are my first time Slateman Tips:
Get used to swimming in colder water.
Practice transitions when cold with shakey hands!
Try to do a bike recce or at least drive the course the day before.
Practise descending, I could of saved a lot of time with more confidence going down the hills.
Enjoy the beautiful scenery throughout (I mean this is why you entered!)
Pace the run, start the hill very slowly and focus on each switchback.
Enjoy the down hills on the run, just leg the legs go and lean slightly forward. I overtook a lot of runners on the downhills.
Save some energy for the sprint in and enjoy the cheers!