Friday, 30 May 2014

Slatewoman; coming to a TV near you!

Pre race accommodation, what a view for £5 a night.
As I was setting up the tent on Saturday early evening, Mick, also racing the Slateman triathlon and occupying the caravan that looked slightly more comfy than my tent, was giving me a run down on the bike course, having just driven the route with his family.
Tent up, scenery admired, having heard Mick's bike course descriptions "only a long drag really, not too steep" I thought I ought to jump in the micra and find out for myself what this bike course was about.

Well, yes it's a long drag al right, not sure about Mick's "reckon you can do it in the big gear" statement!
A hearty evening meal is essential prep pre race, so I sat on the grass by my tent, with my pack lunch box, eating my pork chops, jacket potato and baked beans. Couldn't find the camping stove so made do with a tepid, aka heated on the dash board during the journey temperature.

Thanks Mick and family for providing me with some hot water from your kettle (advantages of a caravan over a tent) for my morning porridge on race day, and with that I picked up my bike, stuffed my wetsuit in my backpack and cycled the 3miles from the campsite to the race start in llanberis.

You know those ice breaker activities, "If you were an animal what animal would you be and why?' or replace animal with colour, vegetable, celebrity, etc etc, we all know the ones. Well, if I was a race, Slateman Triathlon would pretty much be my match. 1km lake swim, a snowdonia lake would be cold and tough, 51km bike including up over Llanberis pass, 11km trail run up through the slate mines. I have always believed the tougher the race, the better for me, growing up my favourite cross country courses were always the muddiest, hilliest. I would welcome a bit of snow, hail, freezing temperatures, the tougher the better.

I had entered Slateman having heard athletes talk about last years race and subsequently watched the TV footage from the race, it looked epic, something I was keen to experience.My aim was to have fun, on a scenic course before I hit the pressure cooker drafting races on city centre courses.
Can't beat the Snowdonia scenery or atmosphere. 
I was ready to jump in and have my breath taken away by the temperature, I had specifically jumped into the River Wharf at Wetherby 2 days previously for some open water acclimatisation, bit of a last minute effort, better late than never I thought. After the inital hit of cold water on the face, the temperature was actually fine, 1km was over before I knew it and I was surprised to find myself exiting the swim at the front end of my wave and 2nd female out the water. All the hard graft of early morning swimming this winter was paying off.

I  was looking forward to the 51km loop, especially llanberis pass, remember, the tougher the better for me! With a trail of men from wave 1 in front of me I had a lot of fun catching them up, and as 1st lady I had the motorbike and TV camera for company. As someone who takes sports nutrition very seriously I had sellotaped my jelly (yes the 33p regular jelly blocks from all good corner shops and supermarkets) and a blob of flapjack to my frame. With the TV camera pointing at me, i tried to subtly pull off chunks of my jelly, while negotiating a fierce headwind, pretending to look all cool, calm and collected.
The amount of support around the transition area was phenomenal and I hurtled out onto the run, only to run 200m down the path, out of earshot of spectators, I took one glance upwards at where I was heading and slowed down! I had a few minutes lead so I knew I didn't need to go crazy on the run, there was however the 'Quarry man challenge', the race within the race. A timing mat at the bottom of the steep zig zags up the slatemine trails marked the start of a timed section to the very top. After the second zig zag all thoughts of this challenge disappeared and survival took over as my quads burnt and my lungs felt like they would pop. Once over the top, we were greeted with yet more stunning scenery and great trail running. The run into the finish was surreal, the loud speaker announced I was first lady and would break the course record, the spectators lined the final 400m, cheering and ringing their cowbells, the level of noise was deafening, absolutely incredible. I slowed right down, had the biggest cheesy gin on my face and soaked up the atmosphere.
Thanks Andy Teasdale for the above photo. Check out his cool website

A huge Thank You to Aim High Events for superb organisation, Chain Reaction for the prizes, the guys I met at the campsite who became my cheer squad and Hannah the marshal who drove my prizes and winner slab of slate back to the campsite for me, as they were a bit big and heavy to carry in my backpack on my bike!
Hopefully I will be back to take on the challenge of Sandman and Snowman later on in the season.
Well done to Natalie Seymore and Jane Hansom who also made the podium, great racing Ladies.

Slateman will be shown on channel 4 in July...keep an eye out! You can read the report on here

Life is full of ups and downs and I returned to Leeds to hear the tragic news of our dear friend Nathan Gopichandran. Nathan had died while rock climbing in the Lake District on Saturday. I sat in the pub, on Sunday evening, still with race numbers tattooed on my arms and legs in disbelief, surround by our group of friends. Life is full of many unexpected twists and turns, the previous Sunday, while out riding I received a welcome text from Nath; 'Suz and Adam, come round for steak at mine,eating at 6.30, bring a chair'. One week on Nathan; the Chef, academic, photographer, climber, cyclist, adventurer, lawyer, and fun loving neighbour was gone, but Nath, you will never be forgotten.
      New Years Day 2013 Nathan And Emily enjoying A breather mid ride!

If you knew Nath and would like to donate to the charities he supported you can do sohere.


  1. Great blog Suzy, unexpected poignant ending. Well done on the fabulous victory and be sure to shout when the TV programe is showing?

  2. Brilliant - you so deserve the win after all the years of absolute dedication, commitment & hard work. The National X Country Championships way back in the stinging hail & zig zags of Ashton Court have prepared you well. Mumx