Sunday 8th was the Dyffrn Conwy Mountain Triathlon – a brilliant race organised by a very enthusiastic team of dedicated kayakers, runners & mountain bikers.
http://www.map17events.org.uk/ The organiser, Ellie Salisbury who is part of Fabian and processes our Four Villages entries, encouraged me to take part despite me not having been in a kayak for 20 years. Ellie put me in touch with Chester & Conwy Canoe clubs and over the last month I have been encouraged all along the way by the most friendly club members who have taught me the basics over 6 sessions on the Dee (thanks to Jean & John et al), River Conwy (thanks to Penny & James et al) and Manley Mere (thanks to Dave Feakes for the loan of his 2.3m pyranha).
On Saturday tea time, Bill & I met up with Penny from Conwy Canoe club who had kindly arranged for us to pick up a 5.2m Kirton Tempest kayak. It didn’t fit in the camper van so 3 other competitors, who were also there picking up their kayaks, helped us attach it safely to the high roof of our camper van. We overnighted at the race base, Trefriw Rugby Club. Following a team brief at 9:30 there was a mad dash to the RSPB reserve at Conwy. After launching the kayaks we lined up on the start line at the bridge embankment with the iconic Conwy Castle looking down on us.
Weather was mixed with sunshine and showers with a southerly wind. The start was 1 hour before high tide. A 13K open water estuary paddle followed. I could not believe the different conditions met en-route; choppy wind blown waves, made worse by a passing motor boat, whirl pools, faster flowing currents, interspersed by tranquil patches. The notes said follow the scum for the best current! This was a good tactic but in that scum was a lot of debris including seaweed and floating logs, which caused a wobble when the paddle caught. All this was a bit nervy for me who was paranoid about capsizing – I have not got the greatest affinity for water ! Under the Tal y Cafn bridge for a photo shot and onto the finish at Dolgarrog. The river was quite narrow and it was the most amazing feeling paddling, alone by this time, but not quite at the rear. The silence was amazing, alongside the most gigantic reed beds (SSSI) wafting in the breeze. A muddy reception team dragged me up the slippery bank and took care of the kayak.
A quick stretch, then off on a 13K fell run. There was an early steep climb up to the Llyn Cowlyd Reservoir following the hydro pipeline (yes it’s got to be steep). Lots of encouraging marshals along the way, and the provision of drinks & jelly babies at the dam before a further climb to 500m (in heavy rain). Despite the rain and drinks I could not get rid of the dry salty taste from the kayaking. Bog and slippery paths down through bracken and bramble in parts followed. Yes summer is over and the ground is now back to normal after the dry spell! Finally crossed the Crafnant road for the final steep drop down to the Rugby Club.
A quick changeover, more jelly babies & a banana, and a thankful sit down on the bike. Then up the steep tarmac road to the Marin Trail Carpark for an 18K ride, dodging on and off the Marin Trail. A figure of 8 route around Lynn y Park. A mixture of forest tracks and narrow single track, current forestry operations making some of the wide tracks very muddy and hard work especially as by now it was pouring down. Managed to ride more of the Marin than I imagined, and have now got over my phobia of riding through deep puddles you can’t see the bottom of. An enforced rest to release a jammed chain, before a final series of slippery slate drops defeated me and I ran with the bike instead. A muddy track with fords and finally down to a waiting crowd at the muddy finish. A fabulous quick hot shower at the Rugby Club made me look more respectable; rugby showers are obviously designed for mud ! Into the bar, just in time for the presentation, a delicious veggie curry and cuppa + pint of shandy.
All in all a brilliant experience in an amazing location, just 1 hour from here. A very well organised complex event with a incredible number of marshals and helpers on the day + it must have taken many hours to plan. So a big thankyou to the Ellie and the organisers, marshalls & helpers at Map17 events + a very big thankyou to all those friendly paddlers at Chester & Conwy for all the encouragement and help along the way this last month.
Mens solo winner 3:28 Adam Norfolk London Fire Brigade Tri
Ladies solo winner 4:47 Caroline Dallimore Mynyddwyr De Cymru
Team winner 3:14 Team C T & C * There was also a team event with individuals competing each leg, to include one lady per team
My time 5:37 Kayak 1:34 Run 1:55 Bike 2:07
Only 4 solo ladies and 3 of those were V50+ !!!
Cheers and thanks again
P.S. Hope to be back next year with a bit more training and experience !