Neal Robertson gives his thoughts on winning ArranMan Standard Triathlon 2017
“Thanks for a great event Alan. Even inspired to do a wee report if you’re interested.
I never do race reports but given the result I’ll make an exception.
Originally I was due to do the middle distance as a free entry following my 3rd place from 2 years ago (I was away last year). However, with a 16 month old and a lack of volume training I decided to drop down to standard (Thanks for letting me Alan!). Obviously that’ll be easier right? Then I cycled up The Ross climb on Saturday as a reccy….bugger. The fact I hadn’t been able to fit my TT bike in the car was looking like a blessing in disguise.
So race day was the usual bag of nerves and self-doudt. Made all the worse as I heard cries of “jellyfish sting” from transition after the middle distance swim exit. Bugger again…
After a talk to myself I got on with it and manned up. Swimming has been the area I’ve neglected the most this year as it’s always been my weakest and least favourite so usually the one I sacrifice if time constrained. I’m at the point I know it’s going to be slow so I just stay steady and accept whatever time I get. I made a conscious effort to stay in a pack though to aid drafting and hopefully avoid jellyfish! Out the water and a quick glance showed 30mins for a swim about 1750m. If that was accurate distance I wasn’t too unhappy and thought the leaders would be within reach. Just.
Knowing the climb was just a few miles into the bike I tried to get the legs going as quickly as possible and spun a gear to get warmed up. Being so far down also had the advantage of giving me plenty of people to chase down so I just went really hard up the climb picking each person off one at a time knowing I could recover on the descent. In the distance of the climb and just before the trees I saw one person way ahead so I focused on chasing them down. The descent is a horrible twisty bumpy road but I felt oddly in control and just went for it trying to gain as much time as possible. After being slowed by a car for a bit I eventually had an opening and passed it as well as the rider I’d seen in the distance. At this point I had no idea how many were in front as the roads don’t lend themselves to seeing too far ahead. That being the case it was head down and batter on as best I could. My cycling has improved massively the last couple of years so although it was a really hard course I felt strong on the hills and really picked up speed on the flats. Having ridden alone for virtually the whole ride I finally saw another rider way in the distance on the descent into Lamlash. With renewed impetus I cracked on to limit the gap on the run.
Heading out of T2 I heard shouts of 3rd place aimed at me. I could see one but no idea how far I was behind the leader. The benefit of a course with U-turns is that you can see exactly where you are on the road in comparison. On this occasion when I saw the gap I almost gave up and accepted my fate. It seemed insurmountable after 1.5 miles. At that point I decided to just run as hard as felt manageable and not worry about pace, hoping one or both leaders cracked. By the second turn the lead had changed and I could see I was well within range of both. Again this gave me an added boost. Passing second place I was in the zone and had first in sight. Finally I was believing I could win. When I did reach the leader I decided to sit on his shoulder letting him dictate the pace rather than go past and risk blowing up. After following for a few minutes I decided I was really comfortable and I had much more in the tank so with a mile to go I broke clear. I could here him trying to go with me but after a few hundred yards the footsteps disappeared and I’d gone clear. I still ran like I was being chased and didn’t look back until just a few hundred metres from the finish. When I saw nobody I could finally enjoy the victory.
It was a really tough race and coming off the back of a disappointing year it was surprising and wonderful to get a win. Terrific event and everyone involved was fantastic. Onwards to Ripon!”
There’s bound to be a few wee issues please get in touch with us asap to correct.
ArranMan winner Peter Fenwick leaving T1
ArranMan Middle Distance Male Winner Peter Fenwick (4:30:04) from GSquad smashed the Middle Distance record by over 21minutes, much of which was gained on the run, because his new record time bike ride round the island (2:34:46) was only 26 seconds faster than Andrew Scott’s bike record from 2015.
To put both these times into perspective, Scottish Cycle Time Trial legend Jim Cusack of Glasgow Couriers holds the round the island record from 2006 for bike only round the island in a time of 2:30:00… This winning triathlete did his time after swimming 2km and keeping enough in the tank for a half marathon run.
The first 3 ladies out the swim all together in T1
Sarah Leaky (also of GSquad) won the female Middle Distance race, coming 5th overall!!! in a time of 5:12:04. Almost 3 mins slower overall than Siobhan Prise record time last year featuring a phenomenal swim last year when she was first out the water, however Sarah’s T1 & bike time is 2mins 22secs faster giving another course record bike time.
The hottest competition of the day was definitely the Standard Distance race. The top 3 finished within 2.5 minutes of each other, however on the run course the lead changed twice, and at the Claughlands Farm turn point, 4km from the end, all 3 made the turn within 15 seconds of each other.
ArranMan Standard Distance podium (Rhuarraidh, Neal, Anthony)
Just like last year, Glasgow University Triathlon Club’s Rhuaraidh Wells was first out of the water, over a minute ahead, and first off the bike – taking 90 seconds off his own bike split from last year. As usual however he faded in the run, with Northern Ireland’s Anthony McDonald taking over 4 minutes out of him on the foot race, and both of them overtaken by Glasgow Triathlon Club’s Neal Robertson, the new ArranMan Standard Distance Winner and Course Record Holder (2:22:57). This time is 1 min 46 secs faster than Graeme Crolls winning time from last year. Yesterday Graeme finished 5th male in the Middle Distance, however it was Neal’s record bike time of 1:12:32 and long course experience that won the race for him after a sluggish swim. In 2015 Neal took 3rd place in the Middle Distance, so Arran is becoming a happy hunting ground for him.
I have a long drive back to Glasgow today, featuring 3 ferry journeys, so it will be later tonight when I get the chance to do full race reports for the triathlons and the Swim and runs.
MASSIVE Thank you sooooooooooo much to all the athletes and families for making the effort to get to the island despite the ferry failure. I hope you had a great time, we certainly loved looking after you.
Also a massive thank you to North Ayrshire Council and the Emergency services for all their help and rigorous scrutiny in the planning, and the people of Arran for being so welcoming.
Finally… if you see any of the event team at another race give them a big cheery smile, buy them a coffee, a pastry or a pint, because they put in some mammoth shifts this week.
This weekend just over 350 swimmers, cyclists and runners will come to Arran for the 4th annual ArranMan Triathlon Festival, Round 2 of the Scottish Triathlon Series, based at Lamlash Green. 250 of them will race all 3 disciplines as triathlon and 100 of them either swimming or running only.
The racing takes place on Sunday 18th June starting at 7am with 100 hardy triathletes swimming 1.9km in Lamlash Bay, then cycling one full anticlockwise loop of the island, returning to Lamlash to run twice round the school 10km loop.
At 8.30am over 150 triathletes will take to the course that features an anticlockwise loop from Lamlash over The Ross to Lagg and back via Whiting Bay.
The early Sunday start times have been arranged to hopefully cause minimal disruption to other road users, particularly the island’s service buses and traffic going to / from the ferry and church.
Lamlash will be busy on Saturday afternoon / early evening with 280 of the athletes registering and receiving their pre race briefing.
Separate running and swimming events take place at Lamlash on Sunday afternoon from noon until 5pm.
Parking restrictions along the Sth Bound / Shore side only of the A841 in Lamlash will be in place from Saturday afternoon. The junction with Benlister Rd & Old Pier will have parking restrictions from Friday evening. North Ayrshire Council will provide a detailed map and times later in the week.
Viewing guide for Sunday
7.15am swim start Middle Distance Tri
7.40am First swimmer out of water and onto cycle course towards Brodick
8.30am swim start standard Distance Tri
8.50am First swimmer out of water and onto cycle course over The Ross
10.15am First cyclists return and go onto run course
11am First finisher Standard Distance Tri
12noon First finisher Middle Distance Tri
12noon start of Marathon
1pm start of 5km swim
2pm last cyclist returns and starts run
2.30pm Middle & Standard Distance Prize Givings
4.30pm Marathon, 10km run & 5km swim Prize Givings
Scottish Triathlon Series Round 1 winner Mirjam Allik
8am First cyclist arrives Brodick heading towards Lochranza
8.40am Last cyclist arrives Brodick heading towards Lochranza
8.45am First cyclist arrives Lochranza heading towards Blackwaterfoot
10.30am Last cyclist arrives Lochranza heading towards Blackwaterfoot
9.30am First cyclist arrives Blackwaterfoot heading towards Lagg
12pm Last cyclist arrives Blackwaterfoot heading towards Lagg
9.25 First cyclist arrives Lagg from The Ross heading towards Whiting Bay
9.50am First cyclist arrives Lagg from Blackwaterfoot heading towards Whiting Bay
10.50am Last cyclist arrives Lagg from Blackwaterfoot heading towards Whiting Bay
12.30pm Last cyclist arrives Lagg from Blackwaterfoot heading towards Whiting Bay
Whiting Bay Timings
9.55am First cyclist arrives Whiting Bay heading towards Lamlash
1.30pm Last cyclist arrives Whiting Bay heading towards Lamlash
All the above times are approximate and depend on the cyclists having a favourable wind on their backs.
The weather forecast is looking good. We can’t wait to join you on your island. It would be great if you could come out and support the athletes. Here’s to a brilliant weekend of safe, but demanding fun for the athletes and by the looks of it hopefully some good weather.
There will be No Parking Restrictions in force at Lamlash Green. All athletes and spectators should park at Arran High School 300m from Transition / Race HQ. This will be well signed.
Registration & Race Briefing
2.30pm – ArranMan Middle & Standard Triathlon Registration
4.30pm – ArranMan Middle Triathlon Race Briefing
5.30pm – ArranMan Standard Triathlon Race Briefing
Due to the later race start on Sunday Morning and increased field sizes we will not be offering onsite overnight bike storage this year.
PLEASE BRING PHOTO ID / RACE LICENSE WITH YOU.
If you entered with a TriScotland / BTF membership number, but you do not bring your VALID Race License you will be charged an extra £7 CASH to collect you number / chip etc.
Bike racking will take place on the morning of the race from 6.00am
Transition will be on Lamlash Green immediately in front of the Lamlash Bay Hotel.
Transition will be open from 6.00am
Middle Distance Transition will close at 7.00am
Standard Distance Transition will close at 8.15am
Only store race equipment at transition. Any other kit bags etc can be left in our Bag Van.
Triathlon Swim Briefing
A pre Middle swim briefing will take place on the beach at 7.00am
A pre Standard swim briefing will take place on the beach at 8.15am
After each briefing athletes will be counted into the water via the designated zone and given a 5 minute warm up period before each race starts. Do not enter the water until directed by the officials.
MIDDLE Race Start – 7.15am
STANDARD Race Start – 8.30am
Race start will be in chest deep water immediately off shore from transition
Neoprene swim hats, gloves and boots / socks will be permitted
Swim Course – MIDDLE 1.9km STANDARD 1.5km
Wetsuits are compulsory. Race numbered swim cap (provided) are compulsory.
Depending on sea conditions you will either complete 2 large triangles or 3 smaller triangles. This decision will be made on the day along with direction of swim. Both are dependent on the wind / wave direction.
A team of 2 RIBs and 10 kayaks are looking after the water safety.
If you get into any difficulty please float in your back with one arm in the air and a kayak will come to you.
Full details of the swim course will be given to you at swim briefing.
— SWIM CUT OFF — MIDDLE 1.5hr —
If you are not out of the water by the cut off you will be escorted from the water by our safety crew and withdrawn from the race.
Transition is on grass on Lamlash Green.
Upon exiting the swim you will clamber up onto the beach & walk / run into transition.
At the Transition exit Marshals will control your crossing of the road to the northbound carriageway. Marshals do not have the power to, nor will attempt to, stop traffic. You must adhere to any Marshals crossing instructions. Failure to do so may result in a DQ.
Cycle – 89.38km
EU approved cycle helmet is compulsory.
In case of emergency, mobile phone is strongly advised.
The bike course will be Marshaled by moto mrefs and volunteer marshals, many of whom will have island wide radio communications. But due to the length of the course, in case of emergency or mechanical failure please take your mobile phone with you. If you see a fellow competitor in physical or medical trouble please assist and inform the next marshal.
Drafting – don’t do it. We have a motorcycle marshal who will be on the look out for those breaking the BTF rules.
Turning RIGHT out of T1 you must not mount your bike until the Mount Line which will be situated 5m down the road from T1 exit. Marshals will be on hand to show you exactly where it is.
The cycle is an 89.38km ANTI CLOCKWISE loop of the island’s A841.
The road ranges in terrain from wide, flat, well tarmac’ed stretches with great sight lines in the north of the island to narrow, lumpy, poorly surfaced tarmac with blind corners and blind summits in the south of the island.
Although we are starting early, as the main road on the island it can get very busy in places, notably Lamlash, Brodick and at the ferry ports.
The road is frequently used by service buses and lorries. The 323 bus from Blackwaterfoot to Brodick Ferry will be on the course at the same time as the rear 50% of athletes. Please allow it to pass.
PLEASE TAKE GREAT CAUTION THROUGHOUT but especially in all residential areas and narrow descents.
Be aware of other cyclists, pedestrians and animals on the road throughout the course.
The route will be signed with direction arrows and caution signs.
The use of earphones, ipods etc is strictly forbidden and will result in an immediate DQ.
RELAY TEAMS – cyclist must wait beside cycle with helmet secured. timing chip swapped from swimmer before cycle removed from rack
Enter Lamlash – Be aware of pedestrians and parked cars entering the road
Enter Brodick – Be aware of pedestrians and parked cars entering the road
At bottom of descent possible queueing traffic in road turning right towards ferry port.
24.78km ***EXTREME CAUTION***
Boguillie Summit:4km downhill 12% steepest.
25.8km ***EXTREME CAUTION*** – Marshal Point
Witches Bridge:Road narrows with small chicane into and out of brigdge. Turn is off camber.
26.9km ***EXTREME CAUTION*** – Marshal Point
Humped bridge on right turn
Enter Lochranza – Be aware of pedestrians and parked cars entering the road
27.4km FEED STATION
LOCHRANZA OUTDOOR CENTRE CARPARK
Likely queueing traffic in road turning right towards ferry port.
42.27km ***EXTREME CAUTION – 17% descent ***
Fast descent which finishes with narrow corners and likelyhood of oncoming vehicles in the road.
50km FEED STATION
Enter Blackwaterfoot. Be aware of pedestrians on the road.
Narrow Bridge – Give way. Oncoming traffic have priority.
Sharp right turn. Be aware of fast moving traffic entering the road from the left.
64.47km ***EXTREME CAUTION*** – Marshal Point
Sliddery – Fast downhill with left hand turn. Apex has 3 drain covers. Middle of road has a large pot hole.
Fast descent with sharp left turn prior to bridge.
65.6km – Marshal Point
Standard Distance Triathletes merging from left
72.3km ***EXTREME CAUTION – 20% descent *** – Marshal Point
Lagg Bridge – Fast descent which finishes with tight left / right chicane on 20% downhill gradient.
Sharp right hand turn over narrow bridge at bottom of hill. Beware oncoming traffic in road.
Whiting Bay – Be aware of pedestrians and parked cars entering the road
Steep fast descent into Lamlash. Be aware of vehicles entering road from residential lanes.
87.7km – Marshal Point
Sharp right hand turn with narrow bridge at bottom of descent BEWARE OR RUNNERS
Beware oncoming runners on pavement to your left.
88.2km – Marshall Point
Runners crossing road.
89km – END OF CYCLE
Dismount prior to line and cross road to Transition. This crossing will be marshalled. Follow their instructions. failure to do so may result in a DQ.
CYCLE CUT OFF @ T2 – 6hrs 30mins
Listen carefully for instructions from Marshals
Taking care to look out for pedestrians, other athletes, marshals and oncoming vehicles dismount bike before Dismount Line which will be 5m prior to Transition entrance.
RELAY TEAMS – Runner must wait beside cycle space. Cycle must be secured on rack before timing chip swapped from cyclist to runner
Once your bike is racked proceed to T2 exit. Turning right to begin run course.
SWIM BIKE ATHLETES YOU ARE FINISHED – NO NEED TO RUN.
In transition there will be an aid station with water, gels and premixed powered drinks.
Exit transition and turn right running in a southerly direction.
The run course is on paths and rural roads that are frequently narrow in place with high hedgerows, thus poor visibility of oncoming traffic.
The use of earphones, ipods etc. is strictly forbidden and will result in an immediate DQ.
Advance notice signs will be in place for other road users. Wherever possible please run on the pavement side of the road facing oncoming traffic. There are a few exceptions to this.
The Middle distance will do two loops of the run course.