Lakesman – Full Distance Triathlon

As part of an ongoing series of events leading up to the main CastleTrek, our guys have been completing various activities. Below is a write up by one of our team members when he took part in the Lakesman he completed in July 2018.

It is the kind of grit and determination in both training and execution that are the backbone of both the team and the challenge ahead.

2.4 mile swim  |  112 mile cycle  |  26.2 mile run

The Lakesman is designed to appeal to both the experienced or novice endurance athlete. It is a full-distance race based in Keswick, with a superb transition area at The Theatre by the Lake. This was my first full-distance triathlon and was the culmination of over a years worth of training. Being from Cumbria, and with family in the local area, I knew I would get some great support as I spent a day taking part in this brilliant event.

The swim starts at 0600 and takes place in the crystal clear waters of Derwentwater, generally regarded on the Lake Districts most scenic lakes. Once you are done in the lake, the bike route makes its way to the west coast of Cumbria where competitors get to experience a side of the lakes often unvisited by tourists, with mountains on one side and the sea on the other.

After some 7hrs in the saddle, you get to start the run stage where athletes will have the opportunity of running through the superb countryside with views to the likes of Skiddaw as well as a spectator-friendly section through Keswick town centre.

Derwentwater is generally regarded as the area’s most scenic lake and swimming in its crystal clear water is something all triathletes should get the chance to experience. A single lap swim commences with a mass start from the shallow water by the boat launch. The guys on the middle distance take a right turn early so the field thins out giving you plenty of room to manoeuvre.

You don’t really have the time to take them in but the views from the water are simply unbeatable! The claxon sounds and away you go. I found some space off to the side as I knew this wasn’t my strongest discipline. I had entered the lake with a friend I was racing against. Once in the water I immediatley lost sight of him. Though I had a solid swim, I knew he was ahead of me. I had been  sighting well until I was corrected by one of the supporting kayakers. Review of my GPS tracking later would show a bit of a squiqqle!

1hr 36mins later, the longest swim of my life was complete and I was out of the lake, onto a short carpeted spectator lined run to transition which is adjacent to Theatre by the Lake.

With legs of jelly, I ran to the change-over area to stuff a banana down my throat and get out of the swim kit ready for the bike stage.

Departing Keswick and heading immediately west you will see one of England’s highest mountains, Skiddaw to your right followed very quickly by Bassenthwaite Lake. The course makes good use of the A66 at a time of day when traffic is light, travelling towards Cockermouth before heading south-west on to the A5086. This undulating section affords stunning views of the Lakeland fells to your left before emerging from the village of Rowrah to the spectacular sight of The Irish Sea and West Cumbrian Coast.

An out and back section on the A595 brings the course back north, skirting Whitehaven, with views across to its historic harbour, before turning left through the former steel town of Workington. A flat and fast section between Workington and Silloth promises to be one of the quickest parts of the course as I was able to get the benefit of the prevailing south-westerly wind. From Silloth a loop around West Newton and Allonby reminds you that the wind that is your friend when heading north is not so much fun when heading south! After completing the 16mile loop I headed inland through the small town of Aspatria before heading for Cockermouth through a number of villages along the way, again the Lakeland fells come into view. I made use of all of the fuelling stations set up at regular intervals around the course. It was taking me approx 1hr to cover the distance between them and I used to this help keep my pace steady as well as managing my fluid intake.

A town centre pass through of Cockermouth is next which should provide a focal point for spectators before heading back to Keswick to begin the marathon. All in all, I covered the 112 miles of superb Cumbrian countryside in 7hrs 4mins.

The bike stage finishes back at the main transition site in the event centre. Leaving transition the route takes in some little known hidden areas of the town before heading North on the Cumbrian Way.

I had done a great job managing my legs and fuelling on the bike. I got into the run stage feeling strong and fresh. The run route is flat and fast with a mix of surfaces. The course loops out to Portinscale, with the mighty Skiddaw coming into view in all its 3,053ft of glory. The route then utilises the A5721 for an out and back section, which is closed to traffic allowing athletes the chance to keep tabs on their competitors and also enjoy support from friends and family without worrying about cars. It was here I caught sight my nemesis/friend I was racing, he was 30mins ahead of me at this point. I had just over 20miles left to make up the distance.

Back to route, it heads back towards Keswick town centre, once again passing through Elliot Park before crossing The Heads where the breathtaking lakes view reappears.

The course is a loop that allows for some great support by friends and family. Martin, one of the CastleTrek Team, came to show his support with his bagpipes!

I caught up with my adversary towards the end of my second lap, I was running strong and on track for a sub-4hr marathon, he was in poor shape and struggling with injury. I wasn’t going to run past him in that condition, it wasn’t the way we wanted the race to go. We spent the next 15miles moving as fast as we could, talking about the race keeping each other motivated as the miles pounded on.

Five laps and 26miles after starting the run, I was entering the magical red carpet finish chute. I started my race at 0600 and it was now 2020, some 14hrs 20mins had passed and I was now a Lakesman.