Once again I took part in the Cairngorm Adventure Triathlon yesterday in near-perfect conditions, in the heart of the Cairngorms National Park. The event includes canoeing 3km around Loch Morlich in Canadian canoes, mountain biking 25km on forest trails and quiet roads and a 5km trail run around Loch Morlich. Competitors take part in teams of two. With my niece unable to take part owing to illness I was lucky to find a new partner on the morning of the race.
There was hardly a breath of wind at the start with Loch Morlich calm and still, a far cry from the strong winds and waves of last year when the canoeing section was almost cancelled. I found it much easier going that last year when you needed to battle against the winds just to keep going.
Again, with little wind the mountain biking section was quicker than last year. This time I didn’t go over the handlebars in the grassy ruts at the bottom of The Sluggan (!) but stayed in the saddle. I really enjoy the cycle route – there can hardly be a race anywhere in the world to beat the fantastic scenery of the Cairngorms, with its 4000-footer mountains, ancient Caledonian pine woodland and picture-postcard rivers and lochs.
Once back at Loch Morlich it took the first 1km into the run before I found my running legs. The transition from bike to running is really tough and with my ‘jelly legs’ it felt as though I was running with heavy boots on. I soon got into my stride and even managed to pass a few competitors in front of me.
Once back to the beach at Loch Morlich I found a burst of energy, managing a short sprint to shake off a challenger on my tail …. followed by a l-o-o-o-o-o-n-g and much-needed drink to quench my thirst.
I was really pleased with my time – a full 35 minutes quicker than in 2012. However, I was still not in the first half of the leaderboard and will clearly need to get out on my bike more if I’m ever going to beat this year’s time. The triathlon is won or lost on the mountain bike section. I know I’ll never be an elite athlete (too old for that now !) but for me the CAT is all about the enjoyment of an event in a superb location.
A huge vote of thanks go to the team of volunteers who organise the triathlon, to all of the competitors who make it such an enjoyable event and last but not least, my race partner who enabled me to take part.