I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned it on my blog yet, but if you follow me on social media you will have seen that my main race for this year is the Brutal Extreme Triathlon (half distance). It was voted as ‘The World’s Toughest Triathlon’ and is set in the stunning scenery of Snowdon, Wales. It’s a pretty big challenge and one I’m not taking lightly!
Over Easter, I got in some training for the Brutal on 4Performance‘s first triathlon training camp in Snowdon. I’ve been having coaching with Jon from 4Performance since the beginning of the year, and having completed the Double Brutal (!) last year, he’s the best person to help me train for this challenge.
Most of the training was based around the course for the Brutal triathlon. There were 4 of us on camp who are doing the race this year (various distances), so the idea was to get to know the course in advance of race day. I’ve trained on the course twice last year, so I know the routes pretty well by now, but I wanted to see how I’d improved since last time. We were based in a cottage near Nantlle which is approx 3-4 miles away from the Brutal bike course.
Expecting the usual Welsh weather of cold and rain, we were surprised to have beautiful sunshine for the entire weekend. I wasn’t very well prepared- I’d packed mostly winter kit, so it meant hand-washing my only cycling shorts to wear again the next day.
Here’s what I covered over the weekend…
35-mile ride including recce of the Brutal bike course, then 5-mile run including hill repeats and speed repetitions.
14-mile run/walk including recce of the Brutal lap lake, then ascent and descent of Snowdon.
58-mile ride with 5000ft of elevation, then 1.5-mile brick run.
5-mile recovery run along the beach, then a much-needed sports massage.
29-mile ride including another lap of the Brutal bike course, then 2-mile brick run.
We didn’t fit in any swimming (the lakes are still quite chilly at this time of year), but we got in plenty of bike and run miles.
The race finishes with an ascent and descent of Snowdon, so one of the key sessions was running up and down the mountain. I’ve hiked up Snowdon several times before but never attempted to run it. Being an unseasonably hot Good Friday, the Llanberis path was packed with walkers and particularly busy at the summit. My strategy was to power-walk up and then run back down trying to avoid slipping on the loose rocks- this took me just over 3 hours.
On race day, we need to carry a bag for the mountain section with kit including compass, whistle, map, blister kit, foil blanket, waterproof trousers and jacket. Training camp was a chance to test out my kit for race day, I was gifted the trail running bag, soft flasks, waterproof trail trousers and compass by Decathlon. Everything fit perfectly in the bag and it was comfortable to run with, however I got through the 1 litre of water quickly and had to buy more drinks on the way back down Snowdon.
Another key training session was a long, hilly bike. We planned to follow a route called the ‘Snowdon Dog’, named because the map draws out a picture of a dog. Laura and I ended up doing the ‘Limbless Dog’ to make the route shorter, whilst the boys did the full dog. Even without the dog’s legs and head, we still covered some pretty tough hills including one which kicked up to a 20% gradient (I must admit we did end up walking)! It was a long day out on the bike but a great confidence boost knowing that I was able to complete such a tough ride (and even follow it up with a brick run).
The weekend reminded me why I signed up for this crazy race… Snowdonia is simply beautiful. You’re surrounded by stunning views throughout, from crystal clear lakes to green fields dotted with grazing lambs, and the rugged mountain peaks towering over the horizon. I’m looking forward to going back in August for the event and hoping the weather is kind to us again.
Snowdon is a great location for a training camp, whether you are training for an event based there or not. There are so many routes to run and ride, plus plenty of other activities if you have enough of cycling and running.
Have you ever trained in Snowdon?