The second annual Snowdonia Slateman Triathlon took place over the weekend on the picture perfect banks of Llyn Padarn, North Wales, with 750 triathletes taking on the challenging course.
It was a fantastic day of racing as CRC PR Manager Simon Cordner reports:
"Triathlon has clearly grown in popularity in recent years with everyone from under-16s to over-70s sliding into a wetsuit, jumping on their bike and pulling their lock-laces as fast as they can. With this popularity comes hard-fought competition; not only are more people showing up but more triathlons are also starting up too, and they have to be good!
The swim leg was reduced to 750m due to the low temperatures on the day.
2011 saw the inaugural Snowdonia Slateman Triathlon with 400 people braving a terrible weekend of weather on the banks of Llyn Padarn at the foot of Snowdon.
Born as a result of a conversation in the pub between organiser Tim Lloyd and a friend, the event was the first of its kind in Wales taking in some of the biggest climbs and highest passes in the UK around the beautiful surrounds of Llanberis.
The Slateman was dubbed one of the most exciting events on the triathlon calendar hosting 400 entrants in its first year, and 2012 saw the event double in size with 750 triathletes traveling from all four Home Nations and across the continent to compete.
Conditions could not have been better with set-up on Saturday taking place under blue skies with only a light breeze. We arrived on-site to be greeted by a sea of transition racks, a buzzing registration area and a great bunch of helpful volunteers ready to assist us. Everything ran like clockwork during the build-up and the race itself, which is testament to Tim, Kenny and the crew from Always Aim High Events who seemed to have all bases covered.
The bike transition area was a well organised setup, reflecting the whole day's events
The race course took in some breathtaking scenery, starting with a 1000m swim in Llyn Padarn. From there, competitors took a run through the adjoining field into T1 – a regimental maze of bike racks, all numbered and correct! And onto the bike run! Here the course got interesting. Being at the foot of Snowdon can mean only one thing – mountain passes! Heading from T1 the route took in the Llanberis Pass to Pen-y-Gwryd on to Capel Curig and along the Ogwen Valley. After riding through Tregarth the route climbed up to Beran before a fast descent to Brynrefail and back into the race arena. 51km done and dusted (or should that read 'you will be busted'?).
The trail run route was equally as challenging, leaving the lakeside through the Dinorwig Power Station site alongside Llyn Peris to Nant Peris taking a zig-zag up the route to the bus stop quarry and into Padarn Country Park. From here the route climbed up a further 500m past Antur Fachwen, across the river and back toward the Quarry Hospital to the finish line.
Time to get changed, pick the bike up and take on some energy before the next leg of the race…
The course was set and race day arrived. Transition started to fill up at 7am and the CRC Events trailer was placed in position beside the finish. You could tell that everyone – semi-pros and newbies alike – just wanted to get going and take on the Slateman Challenge.
With 750 entrants all raring to go, getting proceedings underway was going to require an orderly queue. Set off in four waves, the swim started at 0930 with the first batch breaking the water under the careful eyes of the Surf Lines crew who provided official lifeguard support. With a mild day on Saturday and some breaking sunshine from early morning the water was a balmy 11 degrees – fuelling the decision by the organisers and British Triathlon to shorten the swim leg to 750m.
Crossing through the CRC archway onto the bike leg of the race. Ready for the hills!
First out of the water was David Langston in 11:21, followed by Owen Mitchell from Manchester Tri club and defending champ Peter Brook who was around two minutes off the lead coming into T1. In the women's main event Bethan Hughes from City of Chester Tri Club and Edinburgh RC's Rosemary Byde were closely tied – completing the swim sub-16 minutes.
The bike leg didn't disappoint with Peter Brooke making up 12 places to move into second position behind the now leading Mitchell (who covered the distance in a blisteringly quick 1:30:28). Bethan Hughes managed to pull out a very solid two minute gap over Rosemary Byde during the 51km, but at the midpoint neither was in the category lead which was testament to the challenging course.
CRC staff athlete Andrew Hassard crosses the line. Perfect training for the upcoming Decaman
With all to play for T2 was going to be a frantic opportunity to make up some valuable time that could make all the difference.
As you can imagine, Snowdon is a busy place in the height of spring and the sight of 750 people running about in wetsuits, on bikes (of all shapes and sizes I may add) and running in every direction was enough to fool many a bus load of tourists!
In the end defending champion Peter Brook took the honours in the men's event with Bethan Hughes just holding off Rosemary Byde to take the top step on the women's podium.
Peter Brook and Bethan Hughes celebrate their respective wins at the CRC Events trailer
Speaking after the race Brook said:
"The final leg was brutal once again this year, but for me a tough trail run suits my strengths very much. This is best race that I have ever done, the attention to detail on the organisation is just brilliant too and I would love to come back next year for the hat-trick!"
Speaking about the outstanding success of the 2012 Slateman, Always Aim High Events director Tim Lloyd commented:
"We could not have hoped for a better event this year. The weather was perfect, the crowds of spectators in the finish arena were just phenomenal, and it was topped off with some brilliant racing from all of the triathletes taking part."
A highlights programme be shown on Channel 4 at 7.45am on Sunday 3rd June. Full timing and results are available at http://www.tdl.ltd.uk/index.php
It was a fantastic day of racing in Llanberis, which saw an amazing field of athletes from across the country coming together to support this top class event. It was easy to see why this event has very quickly become a 'must-do' on the UK Tri Calendar.
Our thanks to the Always Aim High crew for their hospitality. Next up in their trilogy of events is the Sandman Tri on September 16th – make sure and get your entry in NOW! Click here to enter. Or if you fancy a great bike run the Etape Eryri – The Snowdonia Sportive powered by Chain Reaction Cycles gets underway on June 17th. Click here to enter.