Wow what a race venue it is at Plas Y Brenin when treated to a glorious sunny day like we had, although 2014 was an awesome race, weather wise it was dismal and played a big part in me crashing on the bike.
Always Aim Tri Series
The Always Aim Tri Series consists of three stunning triathlons – the Slateman, Sandman and Snowman! the Snowman Triathlon was the final race and would decide who would be crown the overall individual Always Aim Tri Series male and female champions (fastest accumulated time at Slateman, Sandman and Snowman tri). The prize for the champions would be a trip to Nevis in the Carribean.
The swim takes place in Llyn Mymbyr at the shores of Plas Y Brenin Mountain Centre – home to quite possibly the most beautiful view in the world. The cycle ride takes in some of the best roads, climbs and views Snowdonia National Park has to offer while the run up Moel Siabod is one of the most incredible and challenging runs on any triathlon route in the country.
I went into this race positioned 2nd in the series with a cushion over 3rd but still trailing the series favourite Ewan Brown by 7 minutes.
Ewan is the best and most consistent competitor I have come up against and I hold a lot of respect for him as an athlete and as a person, he has worked hard to get to the level he races at and installs belief to others that one day they can reach the same heights as an athlete with the same comittment he has shown.
Back to the race and one of the first questions I am asked when doing a pre race tv interview is “can you win the series”? If I didn’t believe it was possible to win then I’m prity sure I wouldn’t win, my answer was that Ewan has earned his lead with two dominating performances but this race at The Snowman is very challenging and is a course that allows for big changes on the overall standings, anything can happen in a race and I want to win the race outright without Ewan getting any unfortunate mechanicals.
The Snowman is the last race of my 2015 season, I have raced a lot this year and have finished on the podium at every domestic race I have entered, keeping this going was my aim and I was confident I could achieve this on a type of course which I enjoy more than any other.
The course itself is super tough with a freezing swim, very hilly and long bike followed by a pure fell run up and down Moel Siabod.
I was super relaxed arriving at the race venue, I had a great sleep and was into transition racking my bike nice and early, after a couple of interviews I did a little warm up run with my mate and fellow competitor Lewis Eccleston, he was in the running for the series prize but like me he seemed relaxed about the challenge ahead.
I managed to get a photo at the end of my warm up and I think it shows what a stunning environment I was about to race in:
Swim (swim shortened-approx 400m)
The water temperature had been announced at around 11 degree which is very cold to be swimming 1000m in, the swim is usually a place I would be looking to gain a slight advantage over other competitors but for once I was quite glad it had been shortened and before I knew it I was positioned on the front line ready for the start hooter.
The swim was so short and went very fast, with it being the shortened distance this allowed more swimmers to utilise the draft from the swimmers in front, I was second out of the water and I could literally feel my arms struggling to turn over due to the cold water temperature.
Here’s a video of the swim- https://youtu.be/hRPDGczwrv8
Bike (69k hilly)
I mounted my bike in second place behind Paul Hawkins who had a swift transition, he’s an ex marine so maybe this helped him deal with the cold from the swim, I personally feel he had a race plan of hitting the bike hard and getting clear at the front, Ewan slipped past me as I struggled to get my numb feet into my bike shoes, with the initial gradual climb out of the way there was a long technical descent with blind corners and traffic to deal with, as I rounded one of the fast corners I was faced with Hawkins dusting himself off as he had crashed into the banking, this left just Ewan out in front but I got held up by a car which left the chasing athletes closing in and grouping up behind me, as soon as we got some open road I put the hammer down and broke away from the chasers and closed within meters of Ewan and the camera motorbike but at this point we hit the first tough climb of the course and this put Ewan out of sight and the chasers caught and eased past me, I felt that if I was to work at the intensity needed to compete on the climbs with these lighter athletes then I was be setting myself up for a big struggle later on in the run.
My decision to stick to my own race plan really started to show some positives in the second half of the course, with the major climbs out of the way I found myself working back into contention after dropping down to 5th position.
With 10 miles to go of the 42 mile course I knew this was my time to do the damage, my plan was to make the other guys work hard to stay with me and hopefully make them suffer going onto the run, after a couple of minutes I had a look back and I was out of sight and in a clear 2nd place ready to hit the run strong.
Run (10k fell)
I love training on the fells and do a lot of my long runs through winter on them, I felt confident I could out run the athletes behind me up and down Moel Siabod after some specific training leading up to this race, this left just Ewan to attempt to chase and I initially thought he had a much bigger lead than it actually was, I was told 3 minutes by my supporters, my legs felt good concidering I was running up a mountain that most people would struggle to walk up, the aim was to keep it moving with short strides and manage my energy levels, this run is never ending and you don’t get to see the turn around at the top until you are up and over the steepest section.
Once out into the open fell I could see Ewan in the distance, I was surprised at this and just kept plugging away and telling myself I could catch him, I think I cut the lead slightly after reaching the summit and as we crossed paths we shared a respectful well done as we both knew what effort it had taken to get to this point in the race.
I had said before the race that this run is split into two different races, there’s going up but then coming down at speed is a total different challenge and throws a massive demand on the legs to keep you controlled, there’s are steep descents, big rocks, gravel, grass and bogs to deal with, with all this you also have to contend with the oncoming athletes making there way up on what is also your route down.
Going up I was struggling for grip on the wet rocks, this made me cautious descending and I opted to ulitise the softer ground when available, everything was going great, I was running freely with endless amount of support from the climbing athletes, some shouting “you can catch him” “he’s not far in front”, as I kept pushing I took a tumble on a rocky section, I smashed my finger and looked down to expect it facing in the wrong direction, it didn’t look broken but was very sore and I had injuries down my left leg, I didn’t hang around to investigate the damage and hit the hard trail section of the final 1k, it’s this section which is really punishing as you are running proper for the first time but your legs are smashed and all you want to do is get through the finish line.
After the race it become evident that I had broken my finger and had some nasty cuts on my hip and leg but I will survive and its is something that happens when you are pushing the limits of racing hard.
Result – http://www.tdl.ltd.uk/race-results.php?event=2134
I finished in 2nd behind a formidable Ewan Brown, I was very happy with my performance and to have Ewan tell me I had him worried is kind of a result after his untouchable dominance over these races.
With 2nd place I also sealed 2nd in the series and was proud to see my mate Lewis Eccleston battle through to 4th on the day to move him onto the final series podium spot. 3rd place on the day was claimed by Belgium athlete Tom Vandenbussche.
Massive well done Ewan, much respect.
Also a big well done to Natalie Saymour for dominating the women’s series and winning the trip to Nevis.
Good luck racing over there you guys.
Another Foster getting a result today was my dad, I’m super proud of him for getting on the podium with 2nd over 50yr age group, he trains hard and I know this is one of his favourite races, well done Dad.
The Sandman and Snowman triathlons will be shown on tv in the near future which is likely to be November, I will post further details when the listings are out.
Yet again I thanks my support who turn out at all my races, there the loudest out there and even managed to get part way up the mountain in this race.
Big thanks to friends Sarah and Pete who had only been back from competing at the World Championships in Chicago and was still battling the jet lag.
Massive thanks to the event organisers AlwaysAimHigh, they manage to improve on there very high standards year after year and cater for each individual who’s entered the challenge of there races. We all do these races because it’s what we enjoy and they make sure we all go away with a smile.
Thanks to my team ChampionSystem/VCUK and all the sponsors for providing the kit to help gain results throughout the season:
Club Roost Wheels
Mark Lomax Chartered Accountants