• The Big Ben Nevis Challenge – What to expect …

    Here’s some advice I prepared for the staff at PhysioRoom.com – Team Emotional – in light of our upcoming Ben Nevis triathlon. Use wisely and enjoy!

    Team Emotional. Ben Nevis Triathlon 2010

    To the 11 Ոardy Warriorsՠpreparing to lay it all on the line for Team Emotional @ PhysioRoom.com.

    Please accept the following as official confirmation that this year’s Big Ben Nevis Challenge is only 60 days away! Factor tapering into your current training programme and effectively this leaves you with approximately seven full weeks to get you to a level of fitness which will allow you to complete one of Britain’s hardest triathlon challenges.

    You should all be well into a sports specific programme tailored around addressing each of the three disciplines within this sport, and if not please please get moving! If anyone would like any further guidance / support from myself just give me a shout and I will endeavour to help where and in whichever way I can. I hold an extensive portfolio on training plans / sports specific drills / diet & nutrition / race day preparation / transition / open water swimming and loads of other stuff.

    For the newbies to this year’s event, this may serve as a reality check on what to expect and for those who have taken part before it will evoke the feeling of ‘why on earth did I say I would do this again?’

    First and foremost, this is not a FUN event. Forget any preconceptions that you may have about competing in this event, the streets won’t be lined with people cheering you on, the sun won’t be shining as you take a leisurely stroll up Nevis and quite possibly the most important thing to remember – without the correct training and preparation there is a strong possibility you could endanger yourself.

    I’ll try to outline what to expect on race day in order to help you understand the enormity of the event:


    4am – Wake up (light breakfast, typically a pack lunch prepared by the B&B)

    Expect the weather to be pretty bad, anything else will be a bonus! Last year although extremely wet for the first few hours, it was quite good, temperatures on Nevis can plummet – wind / rain / sleet / snow are not uncommon.

    5-5.30am – Register and place your bikes in Transition Two

    I would recommend a full bike service before September to try and avoid any mechanical failure and ensure you’re comfortable with some of the basic maintenance principles, just in case: Tire puncture repair / Brake adjustments / Gear alterations.

    6-6.30am – Transition One: prepare and make sure all your kit is ready

    I would advise that the night before you pack, check and re-check everything you need for the big day. Make sure you know where everything is and layer or structure your packing around the times you need it. For example, bike kit on top with running gear.

    Another massive piece of advice I can offer, bring a sealable waterproof container – a plastic storage box is ideal. Last year competitors were given rubber bags with no lid, they retained water so your kit along with everything else was soaked …

    6.45am – Race Start

    My worst nightmare, I֭ not a strong swimmer. The water is cold, dark and can be fairly choppy … Seaweed and jellyfish are not uncommon, add the possibility of some of the stronger swimmers climbing over the top of you, stray arms / legs and you get the picture. At just under 1km its not the longest of swims but the current can make it feel like more … Expect times to range from 25 mins for strong swimmers up to 45 mins.

    You should look to complete around 40 lengths of a standard indoor pool unaided to know you’re on track. Front crawl is the preferred stroke unless youֲe decent at breast stroke. Wearing a wetsuit will make you a lot more buoyant and therefore make the swim slightly easier.

    I would recommend that you do at least one open water swim before the event, which means you should also have your wetsuit – do not leave this until the last minute, you can either buy an entry level one for around ñ00 or rent for õ0.

    7.30am – Transition One: Swim Done!

    Dry off, take in any energy gels / liquids and get ready for around 3-4.30 hrs of peddling.

    Initial road climb for about 10 mins will lead onto an off road slog up the side of Glen Nevis, all in all you’re looking at around 45-50 mins I reckon. Then downhill with a few tricky technical bits before heading back onto the road to Transition Two. We complete two laps of the course with the second differing slightly, because this is the longest leg of the event you should be focusing a lot of your training around this. Hill climbs are essential, this type of fitness is completely different to running / swimming.

    11am – Transition Two: Bike Done!

    The path to the base of Ben Nevis is fairly flat, use this as an opportunity to help circulate the blood in your legs – you’re probably feeling tired and heavy at this point – expect around a 2hr run / climb … Terrain will vary from shale to rock and unless you’re careful it could be easy to fall and break a bone. You must carry a backpack with first aid kit and warm clothing, multi terrain footwear is advisable. I have been battered by 60 mph winds, driving sleet and melted in a hot sun while climbing this peak so expect the unexpected. And, just when you feel you can’t go on anymore, you reach that half way point and you’re on the way back down – energised, enthused and pushing for the finish!

    I do have a Ben Nevis treadmill programme allowing you experience first hand the demands your body will put through. Your training should be incorporating weekly hill climbs and Fartlek programmes as well as steady state …

    Please work hard, prepare well and make this event one you can enjoy and complete with a smile on your face. The last thing anyone wants are serious injuries, lets get it done and reap the rewards of a few beers afterwards …

    For now I bid you farewell, happy training.

    ‘aut viam inveniam aut faciam’

    Cheers, The Gaffer


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