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Slateman Savage by Camilla

Falling injured last year following the fittest period of my life was hard, very hard indeed. Mentally it was tough as I quickly reverted back to my old ways of inactivity, excessive food and alcohol consumption. What the hell was I doing? Stop feeling sorry for yourself, get on with it. Swimming have always been my weakest discipline. This was my chance to finally focus on it and get my technique improved. Timing was good as OTCF was just starting their swimming improvement course and having trained with Steve before, I joined up. My confidence and motivation was returning fast. Around this time I was scrolling through social media, as you do, and a friend was rallying the troops for a weekend away in Wales for Slateman Triathlon. Full of said confidence, my finger slipped and there it was, confirmed, I was doing Slateman Savage, I.e. both days. Better shift my gears… I’m coming back! As people were preparing for Christmas I was preparing to get back into training again. Oh my goodness, my former fitness had gone quickly, this was going to be tough. With Steve on my team I knew I had the right support to make it happen. Let’s do this.

Following several months of hard work, hills & mountains later, I finally stood at the start line, this was actually happening. Standing in the valley of Llanberis, time had come to take the plunge, literally. Enter the cold spin of a washing machine. Swim was cold but the water was beautifully clear. Hands & feet everywhere and suddenly it was over. T1 went great and straight onto the bike and the climb, 10km to the turnaround point. I took time to enjoy this bit. The view of the valley and mountains were unbelievable and the atmosphere was really friendly. As I bantered my way up I kind of forgot the race part of this day. Big grin riding up and unfortunately a grimace descending. Not got used to this yet, it was scary. Finally back into T2 and our support crew were loud and cheering, pressure was on! Stuff off, the trainers made it on, out on the run. As I headed to the hills a guy fell over right in front of me through the fields, I helped him up and we did the run together and we got each other up and down that run. I’ve never used hands during a run in a triathlon before, some parts were so steep, still, it was great. It may have been a race by name but it was joy by nature. Another big grin and day 1 was over.. I was left wanting more. Less than 24 hours later I knew my wish would come true. Double up and my first standard distance was waiting for me but it was not going to be anything standard about it!

Woke up with a strange feeling of calm, nerves were gone. As my friend, Jane, rightly said.. no need to be nervous as your race have already begun.

Back to the start line and day 2. Transition was now rammed and buzzing. Rain was coming down and I was ready for the swim. Goggles on and this day is about to get busy. And we were off again on a longer swim this time. I lost my head a bit towards the end of that swim, maybe the cold, maybe my awful sighting skills? My breathing was a little all over the shop but soon I saw the exit buoys… yay! Up and out and the support crew were loud and cheering. Swim done, yay!

Now back on that climb from the day before, race face came on and I got up that climb much stronger and faster than previous. The rolling hills, scenery and road was just amazing following that first climb. My fears of descending were gone and I pedalled hard down the hills and up them until we all grind to an unexpected and brutal halt. Lots of riders in the road, stopped due to a road accident. This was like a coffee stop now but with no coffee, we ate & drank. I had to keep moving to stay warm as I was quickly cooling down in the wind, few minutes later and we were setting off again on a massive group ride, some serious drafting was inevitable. About 15min later normal order had resumed and the race was back on.

2 hours it took to do the bike leg but it felt like an hour, I would happily have done that loop again!!! T2 and onto the run. Sun was coming out. It took me around 5min to find my legs. I knew it was 3km to the slate mine and up the zig zags so I let my feet fall to an easier pace waiting for the climb to start, and boom, there it was, like a monster staring down at its victims. This was not going to be easy. I was running behind an athlete with a Welsh Ironman tattoo, he looked strong and as soon as he started to walk I took that as my cue to do the same. Ironman John and another chap called Ben became my zig zag friends and we helped each other up to the top. The place is like no other, think Lord of the rings or any other fantasy story setting. Unreal!!! Quick selfie and the race was back on. Ben had quicker legs and I tagged on. This was the last part of the race, let’s have it. Skipped and jumped through woods and paths and back up again through vegetation and gorgeous landscape. Made up good time and I could hear the finish line tannoy getting closer. At the last turn to the final descent I couldn’t help but to let out a scream of joy. Last 5 min to go… I was in touching distance of finishing this. I gave everything I had as I pushed it to the end. That’s it.. Savage done!

I knew I was going to enjoy this race but I had no idea how much I would love it. Big thanks to my coach but also to my family. They have been subjected to many hours of me being away training and they continually put up with my crazy tri goals as they know how happy it makes me. I’m really grateful I got to experience the Slateman Savage, maybe next year I’ll do the Legend…

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