Sorry that I have not been about for a few days. I had a very busy week with work last week and although I managed some training, including a 100km bike ride last Sunday I have not had time to sit in front of the computer until now.
On Saturday I took part in a really interesting and fun event – the Montgomery Canal Triathlon. This was a triathlon with a difference as there was no swim but it finished with a 7 mile (ish) paddle in a kayak – more of that later. It was undoubtedly once of the most friendly and supportive events that I have ever taken part in as it was not a race as such but an endurance event.
The day started early as I took my kayak over to Morton Farm. The gentleman helping with parking was really friendly and encouraging and I was able to load my bike (Susan’s Giant mountain bike) onto the van for the journey to Newtown. Then on the coach to find that my phone which I planned to use to document the day was flat!
A restful journey (two cheese rolls) on the coach and we arrived in Newtown at 8:30 just in time to see the “elite” burst away from the start – including Jean Ashley from the British Quadrathlon Association – my current club.
There was then a big queue waiting to leave and I had to take my place at the back together with a couple of army medics, one of whom had completed many Ironman length triathlons and who seemed genuinely shocked to see that this was a family day.
When our time came to leave, waved off by the mayor of Newton who must have been freezing I was able to overtake a number of groups of riders on the wider path. However we soon arrived at genuine canal tow-path and it became much more difficult as groups became caught up behind slower riders. A lot of shouts of “Passing on your right” but at other times I needed to be patient. The bike seemed to take a lot of pedalling to maintain speed and the flat handlebars meant aerodynamic positions were difficult. We crossed several roads and busy junctions and I can only thank the marshalls who provided safe crossings. At one stage we had to wait for about 15 motorcycles but I was able to sneak in front of the group and not be hindered.
I think the scenery on this section was really good although I shall have to revisit it as I was concentrating to avoiding falling into the canal particularly on some of the bridges where the towpath turned sharply under a low bridge.
All of a sudden, it seemed, I saw Morrison’s in Welshpool and after fifteen minutes arrived at Crowther Hall, near Pool Quay for the first “transition”. This was not the frenzy of a competitive triathlon but a relaxed – check in, chat, rack bike, chat, check out. Susan had arrived with my running shoes and so I left the bike with her and began the 11 mile run. I was passed after about half a mile by a couple of other runners but then was alone for long sections of the run as the canal meandered towards Llanermynech. The path was clear but mainly just on grass with overgrown sides. The canal looked lovely although the male swans had an air of challenge about them, particularly the one guarding his 6 cygnets. Why did I not have a camera?!
The Vyrnwy aqueduct was really interesting and the canal scenery was spectacular. Again very helpful marshalls guided us across the roads and offered their support. After the LImeworks the canal disappeared as it has been closed for many years and I made my way through woodlands and over stiles (none of these on the London marathon!). I finally mastered the art of climbing without having to put both feet on each step. Then the canal reappeared to my left and I began the final mile to Morton farm including overtaking someone in the final ¼ mile.
Once again a leisurely check-in and check-out process including a chat with the Ironman veteran who was waiting for his companion before setting off in an open canoe. I managed to get my boat in the water just in front of another competitor in a sea-kayak and Susan informed that Jean Ashley had departed a long time before in her K1. As I was embarking another competitor was also getting into the water in his sea kayak.
I had not given any consideration to how difficult it was going to be to paddle. I thought it would be easy as my legs would be able to rest and my arms would be fresh – I was completely wrong. I could barely manage to paddle twenty strokes before having to rest. All of a sudden 7 miles seemed a very very long way indeed. At one point I told myself that it would be OK because it would be downhill after half-way then realised just how ridiculous that was. The first mile was really hard despite encouragement from walkers on the tow-path and some people on narrowboats. The I arrived at Aston Locks (three locks) and was humbled by the help provided by the marshalls who helped lift and carry the boat and hold it to ensure that I did not add a swim to the event.
I shortly reached Queens Head and passed a lady who was taking part in a coracle and suffering as the wind was very strong against. Shortly after this the other competitor in his sea kayak finally overtook me and for the next three miles acted as a incentive to keep going. He initially pulled away but I managed to slowly gain on as I did more paddling and less complaining. We arrived at the final lock within a minute of each other and just 200 yards further on we reached the finish. Climbing out here was the highest bank yet and once again I would have won the award for the most inelegant way to get out of a kayak. A cup of coffee and cake and a medal awaited.
The whole day had been a pleasure and interesting challenge and I would like to thank the organisers and particularly the marshalls who gave up their time, and their effort to help us complete the challenge. I shall be back next year. I apologise for the lack of images on this post – my phone died and Susan’s was full – I hope perhaps to get some from those taking pictures on the route.
I shall be completing a further update over the next few days as I embarked on semi-serious preparation for the London to Brighton Challenge.