Another weekend spent in Scotland for racing. This race was Iron Monster, a race that is normally a relay around loch ness. This year, however 28 loons stood at the startline along with 275 relay team members with the intention of doing it all. Roughly 40km run and 80km bike. The first 2 run sections were pretty easy and didn’t have too many relay runners overtake me. The third section was a little tougher but still pretty runnable while the final run section was the toughest and longest out of the lot. It finished with a pretty steep downhill section into the first bike transition.
The solo competitors were given race numbers that stood out from the relay ones, relay being 1-275 and solo 1001-1028. This meant that every time you came into a transition area you got a big cheer from everyone who thought you were a little bit crazy to be doing it all. In some of these transition areas other competitors, who had either finished their leg or were waiting for their team mate to arrive, actually took my water container to fill up, handed me food etc and generally gave me loads of encouragement to carry on. I probably wouldn’t recognise them now if I saw them but I was very grateful for it all!
Once the last and toughest run section was done one of the race officials took us to where our mountain bikes were. They paid special attention to the solo runners, getting us food and filling up our water as well as bringing a hot sweet tea for us to the transition area. It was also a chance for them to check us over and make sure we were ok to carry on. I had a 5 – 10 minute break here while I got changed into my bike gear and refuelled. I wasn’t brave enough to clip myself into the bike for this section so stuck with the trainers. It was a good choice as I was forced off the bike on a couple of the up hill sections as it was pretty steep. Once this section was over I took advantage of some of the hot food they were offering at the next transition area. (see, I do eat in races sometimes). I swapped my mountain bike for a road bike and changed into my bike shoes. The next bike section was a fairly tough one too. It started with a long, steepish climb but then there were some great downhill sections. It was a bit unnerving doing some pretty fast downhill sections on a borrowed bike especially as the brakes were in a different place to on my bike but I soon got used to it. The following two road sections were very fast and I even managed to overtake some relay cyclists which I was very happy with. Given I’m not a great cyclist and don’t enjoy it as much as running I was happy with how it went and surprised at how much I enjoyed it.
I crossed the finish line in 10hrs 8 minutes knowing that there were still relay teams and other solo competitors to finish yet.
This was an outstanding race. We had great weather for it too. The organisers did a great job and were happy to fit around me when I said my flight would not get me in to Inverness in time for the briefing and registration. They told me they would wait for me and give me a one on one race briefing, as I was on borrowed bikes (thanks to Ant for managing to get those for me) we had to set them up for me before handing them over on Friday evening which added on extra time so thanks to the organisers for waiting around while we faffed about with pedals etc.
By the time I had finished they had already transported my mountain bike and drop bags bag to the start/finish area for me so didn’t have to wait around. Saying that, if I had to wait around there was plenty to keep me occupied with some hot food (free to competitors) and beer on offer.
The route, organisers and fellow competitors really did impress me and have already pencilled it in for next year. Maybe if I get some more cycling training in I’ll go for a win this time round, as it was I think I was 3rd woman in the solo.