The best bit about Craggy Island is the sheer beauty and exhilaration of swimming, running and biking around the island. I’ll never forget the view of the castle on the cliffs, and the sun streaming across over the sea, as I came round the top corner of the island.”
I’m definitely an aspiring triathlete rather than a hardcore racer. Craggy Island was my third triathlon with my previous race being the Loch Lomond tri back to June 2018. And then before that, over in the USA in 2008. I’ve always wanted to do more, but having three kids and running a business kept getting in the way.
I first heard about Craggy Island four years ago from some of my neighbours so I googled it, watched the video, and had been keen to do it ever since. After the disruption of the Covid pandemic, I decided this was going to be the year, and managed to persuade some pals to also sign up and make a weekend of it.
The setting is so beautiful and the whole race is a big adventure – swimming across to an island at the start of the race. It doesn’t get any better, it’s completely magical with the island awaiting for you. Swimmers were piped out of the water as we ran up the ferry slip which definitely cheered us on. The bike ride was fun with a few tricky bits of downhill (but nothing worse than a blue run), with a lot of bog and mud to go through. The run starts at sea level and goes up and up – the views from the top as you run along the ridge make it all worthwhile. The final couple of miles of the run are gentle undulating road. The hardest parts are that both the bike and the run go straight uphill from transition, so there’s no time to get your legs in gear before the big push.
The best bit about Craggy Island is the sheer beauty and exhilaration of swimming, running and biking around the island. I’ll never forget the view of the castle on the cliffs, and the sun streaming across over the sea, as I came round the top corner of the island.
It was a really fun and friendly group of people taking part, and the event was incredibly welcoming for a relative newbie like myself. The logistics of getting bikes, children, and dogs to the island could have been complicated, but it was all seamless and the kids had a lot of fun hopping on and off the armada of small boats who ferried us back and forth.
I didn’t manage to get in as much training beforehand as I’d hoped. I run 8.5km weekly with a running group, and tried to fit in a few more hills in the weeks beforehand. I also did a couple of trips to Glentress to build up my confidence riding the trails, and got some tips from a friend who is an experienced mountain biker. I did the odd bit of open water swimming over the summer, and fitted in a few pool sessions in the run up to the race to get an idea of my time for the 500m distance.
Anyone can take part in Craggy, the distances are all quite manageable, and there is a huge range of competitors. I think you need to be a confident swimmer, it can be a bit crowded in the water at the start line, but you don’t have to be super fast (I did breast stroke all the way as my front crawl is rubbish!). But you definitely need to be OK with getting wet and muddy, and there’s a good smattering of sheep dung too! If anyone is thinking about entering and you’re new to the sport, don’t let that hold you back. It’s a really fun race and very welcoming to newcomers.
If you do enter my main piece of advice would be, if you’ve never been mountain biking, do a bit of practice on some trails and get some tips on body position etc. It’s not a massively technical course, but knowing how to manage the downhill will help (although lots of people walk their bikes over the trickier bits, and that’s fine). And wear trail running shoes, I wish I’d thought of that!
This is the first Durty event I’ve taken part of and I’m definitely keen to do more. Craggy Island is going to be a regular fixture. The islanders were brilliant hosts (especially the family handing out jelly babies), and everyone is just out to enjoy the day.
The event was made extra special by having my business Jump Ship Brewing as an event sponsor – I really wanted that cold, alcohol-free beer waiting for me at the finish line and I loved seeing so many others thirsty triathletes tucking in too. As the sponsor, I’ve been lucky enough to get to know Paul and the team. They are a great bunch, committed to putting together the best events in some of the most beautiful locations. It’s all about down to earth adventure. There also doesn’t seem to be any ego involved with Craggy Island – everyone is there to enjoy the event and do their best – whether that’s coming 1st or 249th.
Thanks Team Durty for an awesome event, I’ll be back (wearing trail shoes!)