Updated: Aug 31
The Helvellyn Triathlon was to be my one triathlon outing this summer. What a bonkers event, one I highly recommend. If the thought of a run up, around and down Helvellyn with compass, map, mountain foil survival blanket in a backpack doesn't put you off. Don't worry, I only utilised the Jaffa cakes and Kendal mint cake from the contents of my backpack on the 'run' leg.
I finished 2nd female, being caught and quickly showed a clean pair of heels on the descent from Helvellyn. Showing up my poor trail running descending skills.
Here are my top tips for this race:
1) Adaptability is key: Be prepared for all weather conditions.
On the morning of the race, it was raining, cold and overall the weather didn't look too good.
I placed gloves, a short sleeve gabba cycle jersey in T1. I decided to wear arm warmers from the start, under my wetsuit. They dry on the bike and it's far easier wearing them under a wetsuit in the swim compared to trying to get them on when wet in T1.
As the photo shows, I wore the gabba jersey and arm warmers for the bike. However I choose not to use the gloves.
Photo nearing the top of the struggle climb.
2) Use a TT bike if you have one,
Yes the course includes the struggle climb and after the initial 1km along the lake shore on the A592, you climb up to the A66 but the A66 can be FAST, and then when you turn just after Threlkeld onto the A594 you can get aero and really put the hammer down, here the TT bike will really benefit you. The struggle climb comes next and it is fine on a TT bike, if you have a decent gear ratio. Bike route can be seen here
3) Practice some trail running, especially descending.
If you can, get off-road and practice running up and down trails. I lost a lot of time on the descent due to not having done enough practice on steep trails beforehand. Ideally find someone who is confident at descending and practice following them running downhill.
4) Have a rear light
This is in the race notes, but have a bright rear red light for the bike leg, the roads are open and cars can be travelling at speed. The weather is highly changeable so don't be caught in the clouds/ fog on your bike without a rear light.
5) Pack more food/fuel than you anticipate for the run.
'It's only 9 miles' but it's not a flat 9 miles, i took kendal mint cake, Jaffa cakes and filled my camal pack with energy drink. It is mandatory to run with a backpack, map, compass and foil blanket (map and foil blanket available at registration) therefore i thought, if i am carrying a bag, i may as well put tasty food in it. A 9 mile mountain trail / fell run is very different. I walked sections, especially over swirral edge, so I was able to chew and digest solid food fine. The weather changed considerably on the way up, clouds came over and as soon as I slowed to a walk, I could feel the cold so arm warmers were great. Run route can be seen here.
I camped at the campsite in Glenridding. Lots of others racing were camping here, it is really close to the race start and the run route run/s through the campsite. For convenience and price, you can't beat it.
I highly recommend this race, it is super well organised, TriHard are one of the best race organisers in the business. It is a beautiful location, I would take advantage of being in the Lake district and making a weekend of it.
If you decide to race in 2020, have fun out there and remember to look up and enjoy the scenery!
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