Go Further’s Paul and Angela organised a unique triathlon last Saturday at the west end of Loch Maree at Tollie Farm between Gairloch and Poolewe. The event combined a gruelling 10km hill run with a 22km bike ride. After that, all the entrants had to complete at least one roped climb at Creag Nan Luch – one of Scotland’s best sport climbing venues. Combined personal times for the run and cycle were reduced depending on the hardest grade climbed by the competitor in under 5 minutes.
Local and not-so-local climbers, runners and cyclists turned out to compete or to enjoy the atmosphere at the crag. Although the wet conditions the night before didn’t make it perfect for climbing, at least there was no rain and the craic was awesome.
The difficult run from Tollaidh to Slattadale was made even more strenuous by the overnight rain. The route climbs around 250m over a very rough and rocky path before descending to the banks of Loch Maree and the Slattadale Forest.
First back by some margin was Graham Bee (pictured above) who finished the run and cycle with a time of 1 hour 27 minutes. The cycle route climbs out of Slattadale before following the River Kerry back to Gairloch. From here, there are two strength-sapping hills before the road drops steeply down back to Tollaidh. Unfortunately, the wind was head on for most of the route.
Also at the head of the pack at the end of the cycle were Paul Tattersall, Steve Hammond, Alf Chammings (pictured above), and Ray Wilby (pictured finishing the cycle leg, below).
After the cycle the focus then shifted to the crag where the damp conditions on some of the routes made it tough going. Quick draws were pre-placed in routes graded from 6a to 7b+. Competitors could choose to finish the event by top-roping an easier route or going for time deductions by choosing a harder lead climb.
The Macrae family surprised everyone by bringing along a barbeque which kept the chill from the crag and gave people some sorely needed energy to try the harder routes. The slippy conditions and the strict time limit of 5 minutes for each lead climb attempted proved to be a real challenge. Despite the pressure, all but two of the competitors completed at least one route.
After adjusting the times to take account of the climbs completed, the award winners included Kirsty Noble (first Veteran), Megan Macrae (first female) and winner of this year’s Golden Carabiner was Paul Tattersall with an adjusted time of 1 hour, 31 minutes. Steve Hammond came in second (1.39) overall and Colin Meek third (1.41).
Plans for another Golden Carabiner are already underway. Go Further’s Colin Meek (pictured swimming, below) tested the water during this event with a 700 meter swim in Loch Maree before the run. He had hoped to make it 1km but was driven from the water by the cold. Given the freshwater temperature in April, any future event that includes a swim will have to be held in summer or early autumn.
Thanks to everyone who took part and helped organise the day and special thanks to: Jim Buchanan, Terry Doe and the gang from Gairloch climbing wall for all their time and effort on the day; Helen Meek (pictured on the fiddle below) for these pictures; and, of course – to Paul and Angela for the inspiration and slick organisation.
Special mention here as well to Rich Betts (pictured climbing left) who, after completing the whole event, still had enough energy left to cruise the tough 7b Shotabeena – one of the best routes at the crag.
A few more pictures from the day (and the evening) below.
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