The location really is truly breath taking. Just looking around at the mountains with the gigantic lochs makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up. Aviemore Triathlon feels like the gateway race into Scottish triathlon “
I have been competing in triathlon for 7 years, representing GBR as an elite-level, professional athlete in Off-Road Duathlon & Triathlon – as well as being an Xterra athlete. I also race on-road having competed at the Super Series as a junior athlete – but find myself enjoying the more challenging races.
As Aviemore Triathlon was the Scottish Championship it really appealed to me. Plus, it’s a magnificent location. I received recommendations from athletes based in Scotland – taking part in Durty Events and Celtman are up there on the bucket list. So, with that I entered alongside fellow ‘Race Off Road’ Tri Club triathlete, Lewis Dickson.
I have a real love for Scotland and the great outdoors. The journey north of 550 miles seemed totally worth it to be in a beautiful, remote location in a fabulous place. And with Aviemore Triathlon being the Scottish Championship, I knew that I would be racing some of the best cross-triathletes, not just in Scotland, but in the UK.
Having teammate Lewis Dickson living so close to the event, and coach Doug Hall living elsewhere in Scotland gave me easy steppingstones for travel and accommodation. Plus, Aviemore Triathlon and Craggy Island Triathlon were so close together in the calendar which made the trip well worthwhile.
The location really is truly breath taking. Just looking around at the mountains with the gigantic lochs makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up. Aviemore Tri feels like the gateway race into Scottish triathlon for me. It has a strong flavour of Scotland in one race – a punishingly beautiful location, tough conditions – a feeling of ‘now just get on with it’ that I have only ever had from a couple of races. Scottish MTB conditions are truly epic and far better than the places I have been in England. The course made me feel like I didn’t know how to ride a bike.
From being a full-time student and athlete at University I have been averaging 25-30 hours training a week for the last 3 years. In the lead up to Aviemore I focused on the gnarly stuff. The course is known for having a tough bike course littered with boulders and slippery rocks. Not to mention the polar temperatures of the swim. Having the opportunity to race in a truly remarkable place definitely made it enjoyable– plus winning the overall event, despite going out the night before to a “Peat & Diesel” gig at a mini festival!
Anyone can give Aviemore Triathlon a go as long as that person is slightly mad! But not anyone can finish it! Aviemore takes a certain type of participant that can handle a bike with confidence and control, with a level of fitness that only motivated athletes can achieve. It’s certainly not for a half-arsed Harry.
If someone is thinking about entering, I’d say do it, don’t delay. The event sells out fast for a reason. My advice would be, be prepared for icy cold water and make sure your bike’s brakes work before the race! And as soon as your given your dibber put it straight around your wrist – don’t lose it.
Getting out of the water my arms didn’t feel too bad but I was cold, very cold. I stood up and then the cramp hit me. Both my hamstrings locked up forcing me to fall backwards. I finished the swim in 3rd but not being able to get out of the water put me in 4th or 5th place. I just laughed at myself but also being so cold, it just seemed like fun to me.
On the bike I could hear the two athletes in front of me struggling for breath and I just put the power down to go past them to open a gap and keep it, “out of sight out of mind”. I didn’t know at the time they were in the lead. I asked the race marshal if there was anyone ahead. When they said no, that was a moment and a half for me. It gave me the confidence to power on and the feeling that I might win it. But that is not a feeling to dwell on, the work wasn’t done knowing that Lewis Dickson was chasing.
Running from the top of the course on what felt like a mountain with Lewis all the way back into the finish was a real highlight. We went for 10 to 15 minutes without seeing anyone else which was a seminal experience that you don’t often experience. I hit the sprint finish, pushing all the way, just backing myself knowing that I have good leg speed and my legs were not sold yet.
The hardest part of the race is the gnarly downhill ‘Canadian trail’. When practising there a couple days prior I came off, so the plan was to get through that quickly and safely.
The cramp was also a very tough part.
Only people that have done the event know the feeling. You get pushed physically and mentally: from the biting cold to the dangerous speed, followed by a relentless ‘one foot in front of the other’ never-ending run. At the end of the race there is that mutual respect between all competitors knowing what you have just endured was really tough. Everyone has the dream ambition to complete the race. Only 125 finished in 2022 – a truly unique club. As I said, anyone can sign up but not everyone can finish.
The Durty Events team feel like friends of the family. They are capable of being fair and with the undeniable ability to put on class races with tremendous value.
Comparing with other off-road races in the UK, Aviemore Triathlon is 1st class. In fact, Durty Events’s Aviemore Triathlon is not far away from being a World Class Event and Championship. They have a simple set up (feels like it anyway) that is almost idiot proof. The staff are all professional and come across well informed. The events are beautifully quirky with real personality, free from the BS and politics that surround sport.
The events come across as professional, fun, creative, tough, but with humour! Durty Events know it’s tough, they know the risks, but they do it any way and I love that!