It would be nice to say that at the break of dawn the sun was glistening on the still waters of the Conway River for the start of the Fabian 4 Mountain Triathlon, but it would be a lie!!!!!!!!!!!!!
In fact the heavens had opened all night and the wind was howling at gale force from a southerly direction making for wind against tide conditions on the Conway, not ideal to say the least.
Luckily, the highly experienced team at Fabian 4 were switched on and had changed the paddle route from the proposed start at the Conway Bridge to an out and back course starting from Dolgarrog Bridge, it was still going to be a daunting paddle. However, this meant that we were paddling out against a fast flowing incoming tide and back against wind gusting at 50mph. The wind against tide was quite interesting and the Conway was no place for a novice or anyone in a K1, apart from a few experts that took it in their stride [I am glad I was in a sea kayak]. It was the hardest 8km paddle I have done for along time.
I was certainly glad to land and get out of my wet layers for the start of the hilly [a little understatement] 13km X/C [fell] run. Let’s not forget that we still have
horizontal rain being pushed in by a relentless gale. After 1km we were heading
out of the Conway Valley and started up the steep slopes of the hill side, did I mention that it was about 1 in 3 and went on for ever. I must say that after a few hundred meters my calves started to scream, so walking was in order [which was in fact faster then those running up]. Once on the top the gradient relaxed but we were fully exposed to the enraged elements. We must say a special thanks to all the marshals standing out on top of the mountain side, hero’s! It was hard to tell if I was running on flooded paths or swollen streams. In some ways the descent down the steep slippery slopes was worse [certainly more dangerous] then the gruelling ascent. By the time I got back to transition [the Conway Rugby Club] my legs were totally shot and I still had 19km of strenuous & hilly mountain biking to complete on forest fire breaks and single track.
After a quick energy gel and a dry layer it was out on the bike, guess what, it was still raining and the wind had reached new heights. After 1500m of flat road the course swung uphill in to the mountain forest again, with a long steep strenuous hill that left me gasping for breath and my already tired legs were ready to explode. On the plus side the dense woodland provided some welcome relief from the wind & rain. The bike route was a mixture of forest access road and
single track [some shared with the infamous Marin MTB trail]. Even though the
forest was a maze of different tracks and trails it was extremely well signed
and almost impossible to get lost, thanks Fabian 4, I had nightmares of riding
around the woods all day.
The bike leg seemed to pass quite quickly, maybe because I was in an exhausted daydream by this stage. The final steep descent to the finish line involved peddling through two swollen streams, just in case anyone had managed to stay dry. It was with a big sigh of relief and a large grin that I crossed the finish line. It was the hardest race that I had completed in a long time, but also the most enjoyable. The bad inclement weather could not etract from a fantastic race in a fabulous location. In fact in some perverse way the weather will make it more memorable, long after the aching muscles have recovered. This race makes Bude [up to now probably the hardest quad race] like a Sunday stroll in the park.
I must say a big thank-you to the team from Fabian 4 for not
being phased by the crap weather and putting on an excellent and exciting race.
The marshals and helpers braved the elements to allow the solo and team
competitors to safely complete the course.
Mark Pryor BQA Chairman