A 1:30am alarm meant a long day ahead!
We were staying at the Gairloch Hotel which was an hours drive away from the start. I had left booking accommodation to quite late in fear of another Covid travel restriction so it wasn’t easy to find anything closer. Plus there was 9 of us; a family entourage!
Cobus, Jules and I left the hotel at 2:15am. Fortunately since it was mid summer is wasn’t pitch dark but the cloudy skies did make it a bit eerie. Bikes had to be racked and trackers collected between 3am and 4am before jumping on the bus to the swim start.
We stood in the field waiting to be led toward the water. There was about 3 of us not wearing booties – maybe would have been useful for not just the cold water but for the sheep shit in the field! And most people were wearing neoprene gloves too – in hindsight maybe I should have bought some as my hands were so cold they were like curled up claws when I got to T1 and I was completely unable to use them!
The water fortunately felt fine when I got in. My Garmin said it was 10c.
And we were off. I put my head down and just swam, following everyone else. And then…there were jelly fish. Millions of jelly fish. It was too amazing to be frightened by them. They were just everywhere; all sizes. I scooped them as I swam. You couldn’t avoid them! The second half of the swim took forever and I kept getting pushed to the left by the current/wind. And I had no idea what I was aiming for. I’m sure they had told us to aim for the white house…all I could see were white houses! I could see the odd pink swim cap here and there. Finally I could see the swim exit. I knew I must be near the back of the field. I struggled to get out the water, slipping on all the rocks and ended up with lots of cuts all over my hands and feet; another reason why gloves and booties would have been a good idea. Since I couldn’t feel my hands and feet I didn’t notice the cuts.
Volunteers helped me up the rocks and then Jules grabbed me. Only one helper per athlete was allowed in T1 so Cobus was helping from the other side of the rope. I drank some warm coffee and got warm water poured over me. Jules and Cobus stripped off my wetsuit and dressed me in all my layers, on top of my trisuit; long sleeve cycling jersey, windproof jacket, waterproof jacket and gilet. It was hard to get gloves on as my hands were still curled up from the cold. Heat packs were shoved into the gloves and also into my cycling shoes. My T1 was way too long; almost 15 minutes!
To be continued…..