Helvellyn Triathlon – 2nd September 2012

Helvellyn triathlon is billed as one of, if not the toughest races in the UK triathlon calendar, having previously raced it in 2010 I knew what was in store, or so I thought.


My race weekend started on the Saturday with a drive up to registration at a field in Glenridding. The weather report was promising and the lake was a tepid 14 degrees.  Sunday morning came around so I checked into transition downed a can of red bull and was suited up ready for the off. I was placed in the second wave. My plan for the day was to go off at a suicide pace on the swim and bike then see what happened on the mountain. Fortunately I managed to get away from the usual carnage of the swim start and kept going as hard as possible, I came out of the water feeling good but then spent 2 mins trying to put on a pair of socks in T1.

Swim time 26mins 36 – T1 2mins 48

The bike route was on open roads and there was plenty of holiday traffic about. This was a no drafting race between competitors so I sat in behind a caravan (about the only thing on the road big enough for me to draft off) and put the hammer down out of Glenridding. From past experience of the race I thought it was quite a fast route except for the struggle out of Ambleside onto the Kirkstone Pass. Being two years older and having a failing memory didn’t help, the route was defiantly NOT flat, after about 15 rolling miles and a fast section into Ambleside the struggle appeared. This section of the road was closed and just as well. I knew to take it easy in the lower section and started passing people who were either walking or zigzagging on expensive TT bikes. The most difficult part was the last 100m when it winds up to the Kirkstone Inn, the crowds at this point were amazing and about 10 deep, this pushed me on to the summit and a left turn onto the Kirkstone Pass. 6 miles remained to T2, a fast careful decent and then back on the gas into transition.

Bike 2hrs 12.14 – T2 2.18

Just the small matter of a run up a 3118ft mountain over 9 miles, I rattled off the first mile with relative ease to the bottom of a stone staircase which rises up to a large tarn. Fast walking was order of the day.  It did occur that maybe the stair masters I see in the gym are not such a bad idea. 1hr into the ’run’ and I knew things weren’t going well I could see Swirral Edge above me, a tricky single file climb to the summit. After reaching the top and dropping down there was two more smaller ascents and I walked every rise, my plan was to let the handbrake off on the decent. The route down was steep and tough under foot with the last mile on tarmac, which was very welcoming. The crowds again were great at the finish line and although disappointed with my run/walk I felt like I had left it all on the course.

1 mile swim in Ullswater, 
 38 mile cycle (including the struggle) and a 9 mile run up Helvellyn (at 3118ft England’s 3rd highest peak).  Run 2hrs 14.36 – Overall 4hrs 58.30 – 293rd from 740 – 134 in category.

I can’t recommend this event enough and its getting more popular every year especially with top athletes, 18 of which going sub 4hrs!  This event is already in my calendar for next year so if anyone else fancies a different sort of tri I’ll see you on the start line.