Race madness?

Artemis Great Kindrochit Quadrathlon

I have signed up for the Artemis Great Kindrochit Quadrathlon in July. I am wondering if this is the best – or most ridiculous – thing I’ve ever done

Photograph: © Malcolm Cochrane Photography

I like to have an outdoors sporting goal each year. 2013 was short and fast, although still very tough – the World Age Group Sprint Triathlon Championships. In 2014 I am going long with the Artemis Great Kindrochit Quadrathlon.

This is going to be a big challenge, especially as I will be racing in a team with my partner, Gordie.

Fiona is set to cycle

The one-day event starts with a 0.8-mile swim across Loch Tay, followed by a walk/run of 15 miles over seven Munros (including the UK’s 10th highest mountain, Ben Lawers), then a seven-mile kayak. It finishes off with a 34-mile road cycle around the loch.

Even as I write this down I think: “Bonkers.” Then as I spend a little time contemplating the event, I scream internally. How on earth will I manage to keep going through so many disciplines and for so long? And in just one day.

There is also the team thing. While Gordie and I are fairly evenly matched in terms of fitness – and we are very fond of each other – we each have strengths and weaknesses that could cause stress for our relationship during the race.

In the swim I will most likely be quicker, especially as Gordie has only recently returned to pool training after a few years away. I’ll therefore need to wait at the end of the swim for him or swim slower. There are a few hurdles, however. I really do not like open water swimming because I get cold and I’m afraid. So I expect I’ll just get in, swim as fast as I can and hope that Gordie has trained enough to join me at the end soon afterwards.

The run section will be super tough and we will need to support each other both physically and mentally as we push up and down each of the Munros. Gordie has been nursing a dodgy ankle for the last year so we will have that to worry about as well. I need to train hard and to learn how to manage my nutrition. If my blood sugar drops due to lack of food I will not finish this section.

Fiona on the slopes with partner Gordie

Picture: Fiona with partner Gordie

Last year, the sprint triathlon was all about short, fast and flat. I ran only 5k in the qualifying events and the world champs. The run did come after a 750m open water swim and a 12-mile bike ride but the run training was only ever shorter and faster.

Now I am facing a long and much slower run, so my training has had to change dramatically. Avoiding injury during long training runs will be key to completing this section. Gordie, have you even started training for this yet?

The kayaking section is a bit of an unknown. Both Gordie and I have kayaked, on the sea and in lochs, but we are not regular kayakers. We see kayaking as more of a pleasurable day out than a regular sport. There will be the added pressure of paddling a sit-on craft and working as a team. We need to find a kayak and practise this event in the next few months.

And after all this, there will be a bike ride. Cycling 34 miles round Loch Tay would not normally worry me but when we reach the bike section we will be truly exhausted. Will Gordie be strong enough to let me draft him? (Drafting is when cyclists sit behind a rider in the front and use his slipstream to make their progress easier.)

By July I will have taken part in several cycling sportives but right now I have done very little cycling for many months.

I confess I am feeling pretty daunted by this event. I have never been a long-distance endurance athlete. I am normally a soloist. I need to focus on a more structured training plan and I am worried that Gordie (a keen climber) has only started training in one discipline, swimming.

We also have some £900 of sponsorship to raise before the event. All money raised goes to two worthy charities, Mercy Corps and Mary’s Meals. Please do sponsor Team FionaOutdoors if you would like to support my efforts and the charities.

I will be keeping you updated on my training progress in the coming months. There are still places available in the Quadrathlon, which takes place on 12 July. Why not register?



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2 comments on “Race madness?
  1. Marc says:

    Hi,

    I did the Quadrathlon last year, and it really was the toughest physical thing I’ve done in my life but also one of the best days. I had only ever done running prior to it (with the furthest prior to training being a half marathon), and decided to do it as other mates had signed up and it seemed like a good idea…

    The toughest part is by far the “run”…but don’t consider it to be a run. It is much more of a hike up the munros (lets be honest, they are mountains), with jogging down them (although that can be hard due to the steepness).

    The best part is the other people doing it – talking to them, them helping you out and then the volunteers, providing food, drinks and loads of encouragement. The cake they provide is excellent!

    I’d recommend going up to Loch Tay and spending a weekend in the area, go up (and down) as many of the munros as you can to get an idea of their steepness (Munro 3, 6 and especially 7 are really tough to go up). And you can also hire kayaks. This is what we did and it really helped to understand it a bit more.

    Anyway, essentially I just thought I’d try to ease your worries slightly – it is an exceptionally tough event, but such a great event to be a part of.

    All the very best of luck for the training and the event itself. You will love it!

    Marc

  2. Thank you so much for your informative comments. We plan to do the Munros route in the next couple of months and I have cycled Loch Tay before. I am most worried about the swim. The kayak will just have to be a “survive”! I will be reporting back on my training as it comes along. Again, thank you.

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