ROC 2021 Race Review

5th September 2021 – The Day I Faced Up To The Mountain

ROC Triathlon - Snowdon
Yr Wyddfa, ROC Triathlon Snowdon 2021
The ROC Triathlon Review

“A demanding 115km race rich in challenges & crammed full of inspiring terrain. Starting on Abersoch beach, reaching the summit of Snowdon and back, The ROC showcases the best triathlon arena Wales and its breathtaking landscape has to offer.

Commencing on the golden sands of Abersoch beach the race starts with a 1.5km sea swim in the village’s idyllic bay before heading off on a 50km fast and progressively undulating bike route into the Snowdon Massif. The race then heads on foot via the toughest route up Wales’ highest mountain along The Watkin Path, 6km of 3,330ft formidable ascent to the summit where you can absorb those exceptional panoramic views before heading 6km back down, 50km return cycle, culminating with a 1km run along Abersoch beach before crossing the finish line.” –

The sky had a lingering dusty pink from the recent sunrise as I stood in my wetsuit on Abersoch beach, looking out along the sea towards the iconic misty mountain in the far distance knowing I’d soon be standing at the top of that peak, the very distant Snowdon. The tallest mountain in Wales and standing 50km away from where I was stood, and I was terrified. The mountain disappeared in the haze, and I shivered despite the warmth of the sunny glow. It was bizarre, I had set up my bike ready in a chilly transition 1 and yet that short 50 metres from transition onto the beach I was hit by a surge of warm air. I turned to face the start line, the beach seemed packed with athletes, and they seemed like “real” athletes, not me. I told my husband Andy I felt like an imposter, like I shouldn’t be there and that I wasn’t deserving in some way.

“Don’t be silly, you deserve to be here, why wouldn’t you deserve to take part?” He asked.

I didn’t have an answer, I just looked out sadly towards the first buoy I would soon be swimming around. It’s true that at registration the day before I had been standing behind what seemed like countless uber-lean athletes, most had Ironman tattoos on the obligatory calf muscle. I had seen the Saturday athletes crossing the finish line, and it dawned on me exactly what I’d signed up for. We had passed some of them on their bikes when we were driving to our B&B, and then passed the same ones after we had checked in on their final miles of the bike route. The ROC is normally raced twice a year, a date in May and one in September, but because of Covid they had put the two dates together on 4th and 5th September 2021.

I often get nervous and anxious about going to new places, but this was taken to new heights. I wanted to sit down and cry, but I knew that if I did that, pulling myself together in those final few minutes before the start whistle blew was just not going to happen. I messaged my friend Simon and told him I wanted nothing more than to run away, I was well and truly trapped in flight or fight mode. He told me the weather will be perfect, and after I said I was close to bottling it, he replied “stop delaying and get your head under”. I picked up my brand new googles, I’d got them for my birthday, imported from America and pretty pricey. I’d only worn them once in the sea, I noticed they still had salt in them, so rookie mistake number 1, I spat in them to clean them, rubbed and realised the salt had scratched them. I was gutted, but I didn’t have spares, and as long as I could see the buoys it wouldn’t matter if my vision wasn’t crystal clear, it wasn’t going to help much.

I took a deep breath, and the elite athletes were called to the start line. A Geordie lad must have sensed my terror, and said “Come on, that’s you and me!”. I laughed, and instantly the sound made me feel massively better. I waited whilst everyone started slowly making their way towards the start line. I stared at my feet as I shuffled forwards at the back of the group. Although my swimming isn’t too bad, it is also not too great. If I attempted to start further in front I’d risk getting kicked in the face or swam over, and I was really not in the mood for a battle so I decided to hang back. It would mean I wouldn’t get a draft and I was guaranteeing a slower swim, but I would come out with my mind intact.

“5 Seconds…” I took another deep breath. All of a sudden everyone was running. My legs started to follow, just a walk, but it was one foot in front of the other and that was all I needed.

Into the water, waist deep, everyone was swimming, everyone but me. A third deep breath, and a little jump into front crawl, and I was away. The water was warm, there was a steady flow of waves but they weren’t pummelling me like they had a few weeks earlier when I attempted my final sea swim in training before the ROC. I hadn’t had much experience swimming in the sea, and I was even more nervous because I didn’t breathe bilaterally, so after the first buoy I would be breathing into the waves heading towards the beach. Luckily they were gentle and not breaking. I was very lucky because the swim the day before had a massive swell and quite a few athletes pulled out. I enjoy swimming in the sea, I could just about see the bottom of the seabed despite the water looking black and my scratched goggles. There’s something humbling and spiritual about the waves lifting you up and down, like mother nature is showing you her power and reminding you of just how small you are.

The first buoy took forever to get past, although it was only 200m from the beach, it took a lifetime, I battled with controlling my breathing and forcing myself to relax and find a rhythm. Once around it I saw a guy swimming to the side of me, he swam all the way along the first stretch and although I have no idea who he was, he was a calming presence to have. I knew that as long as I had him in my sights I wasn’t going too far off course. I would look up for the buoys as well to make sure it wasn’t a case of blind leading the blind, and when the waves were a bit too large I’d do a patter of breaststroke so I could get my bearings and make sure I knew where I was heading. It wasn’t long before I was turning around the far buoy and on my way back to the shoreline. I climbed out of the sea, undid my wetsuit and saw Andy standing with a massive grin shouting “You did it!”. I had a beaming smile as I ran to transition, that was the first fear over, I’d soon be on the bike and heading to Snowdon. I downed some water to get rid of all the salt I’d accidentally swallowed in the swim. Wetsuit off, goggles and swim cap off, helmet on, sunglasses on, race number on, feet dryish and the sand was being stubborn so socks on, cycling shoes on, and finally bike removed from the rack and towards the mount line I went.

The bike was relatively flat and straight forward, I had a few people pass me but not many. I took it steady and kept smiling. I was thinking about my friend Marie when I got to Pwllheli. She was someone I’d put in the “naturally fit” category, you know the type I mean, they do zero training, then rock up and nail it! Marie had been up the Watkin Path a few times for her ROC training, but in recent weeks she had done nothing. She had messaged me on facebook a few days earlier after trying to sell her ticket because she wasn’t ready. We had a chat and I said it’s just a 30-40 minute swim, a 2 hour bike, then her Snowdon training route, then another 2 hours on the bike, the final 1km could be walked if needed. I said if she was happy to throw in the towel if she was pushing too hard, or wouldn’t be upset if she didn’t make the cut off time up Snowdon, then she should consider having a go and just taking it steady. She had a think and decided she would give it a go. I wondered how far ahead she was, when she went whizzing past shouting “Keep going Jen! You’re doing great! My swim was awful! We’ve got this!”. I grinned with a big smile, it was nice to know she was nearby and although she soon disappeared ahead I realised she potentially wouldn’t have been there if I hadn’t given her that bit of encouragement.

It was on the bike that I started weighing up my place in triathlon. Facebook and instagram are crammed with triathletes on podiums, proudly displaying race times and places in their Age Group. I’d got caught up in the desire to one day get a Team GB spot or snag a place at the Ironman World Championships at Kona. I wanted to prove I was good, that it can be done, I wanted to inspire others than former 19 stone mums of 4 can stand first on a podium. But what then? After every podium, there’s the fear of losing it, the fear of no longer being good enough to keep it, there’s the desire for a bigger podium, a bigger challenge, maybe even a pro contract if you’re young enough. But what is it all for? Why was I chasing that podium? Why do I need to prove “I am enough”? I don’t have an answer for that yet, I just came to an understanding as I saw Snowdon getting closer and closer, that what I was seeking would not be found on a podium or in the top 10 of a results sheet for my age group.

I thought about Andy, and my kids. I thought about how what I did inspired them. Andy had completed his first triathlon in July, he is naturally fit too and brilliant on a bike and fast at running with very little training. Swimming however is a completely different subject. I took him to the pool to teach him to swim, and when I saw the fear in his eyes at putting his face in the water I knew this was going to be a long journey for him. A week later he was filling a bowl of water at home and putting his face in, blowing bubbles to practice. He completed the 200m pool swim in just over 6 minutes, with very few melt downs. At the time of writing he still has a long way to go, but he is about to sign up to the Harlech triathlon in March and he well and truly has caught the bug. When we were at our caravan a few weeks earlier, Matty had been playing in the sea and had finally started taking an interest in water and learning to swim. He was riding his bike up and down past the caravan with another boy he had just met at the caravan park, he told the other boy his name and then proudly said “My mum does triathlons, first comes the swim, then the bike and then the run”. Shortly after he put his bike down and started running and came over to me and asked if that was far enough for his triathlon or did he need to run further. I was doing this for them, to inspire them. Maybe not to do triathlons, but for them to realise they can achieve anything they want to in their lives if they do the work for it.

That was when it hit me, yes I could achieve the podium or top 10 finish, but what was the cost? What time and energy will I need to give from myself to achieve it? What would the kids lose from me for me to gain the achievement and recognition I craved? Was it worth it? The answer was no. I love training, and I love triathlon. But I was only prepared to give so much of myself and it wasn’t likely to be enough to achieve the times I desired. I decided I wanted to get faster, because I wanted to be done as quickly as possible! However trying to compete wasn’t going to be an option for a long time, possibly ever. And that was fine. Today, the objective was to finish with the completion medal. To get to the cut off and complete the whole route and be proud.

Snowdon was getting closer, it felt like I was Bilbo heading to the Lonely Mountain as I would catch glimpses of it every now and then. Had I eaten enough? Was I feeling ok? Had I drank enough? I felt great, and then I saw Marie just in front with another lady called Louise. I passed them both as we were cycling past Llyn Dinas just before Transition 2. We all got to transition at a similar time, Marie went for a toilet stop but I was eager to get to the cut off point before midday so I set off first.

The ROC is a mammoth challenge, you need to save your legs from the first bike ride for the trek up Snowdon, but stay light on your feet for the descent, and still have it in you for the bike back. To make the challenge even tougher, you have to get 4km up Watkin Path before midday. I had 1 hour and 10 minutes to get to the 4km marker. I had never been up to the Snowdon summit, it wasn’t because I hadn’t wanted to. Due to family commitments, snow,  Covid, and lack of signal (it felt too risky without company) it had all meant I had never once managed to get up there in the two years I had spent training. I had done a lot of training up steep and scuzzy trails in Llangollen which was better than nothing, but none of them had fully prepared me for the constant “up” that Snowdon brought. It was also very bloody hot. 

I started to run knowing it wasn’t flat for long, but the heat and lack of shade meant I had to think tactically. I was worried I would run out of water, especially because two of the guys from Wrecsam Tri who had raced on Saturday had told me they’d run out of water up there and it was much hotter today. I decided to “walk with purpose” and just repeat placing one foot in front of the other. All was going well for the first 2km, then I came across the first medic. I said a cheery “Hello!” as I walked up to him, all clad in green and with a friendly smile. He replied “Is that right knee giving you some grief?”, his eyes glinted at the opportunity of assisting a poor wounded runner. “No, no! My back’s aching a little from the bike, but my knees are all good thank you!” I replied to him as his face fell in some form of disappointment. I told him I just wanted to make it to the checkpoint before the cut off, and he responded with a thoughtful “ahhh, hmmmm, well you’ve got half an hour to do 2km” and gave a nod at the steepness of the upcoming terrain. My heart sank. Although 2 km in 30 minutes is quite achievable, the terrain and incline was ramping up and I immediately felt defeated.

I had been in good spirits and was keeping my mind focused and positive, and instantly it all came crashing down. There was no way I was going to make it. All of the lead runners had started to feather their feet down the mountain towards me, and I was having to go to the side to make way for them. I’d try my best to smile and tell them words of encouragement, “Well done!”, “Keep going!” and many of them would smile and say “Thanks, you too!”, and then every few runners they’d just blank me completely, not even a thumbs up, but I’m sure they were having their own mental battles on that mountain too. My mind wandered ever so slowly to a very dark place. The terrain got rougher, the incline got steeper. I’d have a choice of narrow grassy patches at the side of big boulders, and I’d have to work out which way the oncoming runners were planning on going so I’d take the other way.

I caught up and passed two hikers on a day out going up the mountain, and I started to get worked up, I knew I didn’t have much time, and every corner I went around still didn’t produce any sign of the checkpoint. I cried out loudly “Why did I think I could bloody do this!”, ok I admit the word bloody may have been replaced with a different expletive. I even started shouting about how everyone was lying to me and there wasn’t even a checkpoint. The poor couple on their nice hike up Snowdon must not have known where to put themselves, seeing a fully grown woman stomp her foot, swearing, and then promptly sitting her bottom on a rock and stuffing her hands in her face making wailing, sobbing noises.

The sad fact was I was already so dehydrated that no tears would come. I knew sitting down wouldn’t get me to the checkpoint, I wasn’t likely to make it in time and that was that, no point attempting to cry about it. I’d get to the checkpoint and get turned around, I’d soon be going down the mountain, back on the bike, and I should be finished as an official DNF by 3 o’clock. At least I’d be able to go home sooner I thought, and then I felt thankful. It was so hot, and it was a blessing, getting through that checkpoint would add an extra couple of hours up and down Snowdon, I’d definitely not have enough water, I had been told there was a scramble at the top, they said I’d have to be on all fours and slide down on my bottom, and I supposed that I could easily slip and injure myself. But I still needed to make it to the checkpoint so they could turn me around and I’d get an official time. An official “Short Run” with a medal albeit a different colour ribbon to highlight I didn’t actually make it to the summit but still completed the race. I stood up and took a deep breath, I couldn’t turn back now, not just a few more minutes from the checkpoint and I hadn’t truly expected to get to the checkpoint by the cut off time deep down, but I had to just keep going that little bit longer.

A few more corners and then I saw it, the checkpoint! I approached the checkpoint and a young man called out “39, 12” whilst a lady wrote the numbers on a notepad and smiled at me. I surmised that 39 was obviously my number and after a puzzled moment I looked at my watch, it said 12:00. It was midday. I was confused, “Did I make it?” and the lady smiled and said “Yes! The cut off is actually 12:05 today so if you want to have a breather for a few minutes before you set off again that’s no problem”. I broke down and cried. Again it was more like crazy wailing because no tears were able to form. I expected to feel some sort of elation at getting to the checkpoint and being able to finish, but instead I actually wanted to turn around and call it a day. I didn’t know what lay ahead, I knew I was running low on water in my hydration back and I’d heard so many descriptions of how tough the scramble was at the top and how steep it would get. I didn’t feel like I was capable of doing it, I had struggled so much to get to the checkpoint, there was no way I was skilled enough to make it to the top. Someone had told me that the path wound in different directions and you can easily take the wrong path or get to a dead-end. What would happen if I got stuck? What if I didn’t know which way back I had to go, or what if I slipped and needed the mountain rescue service and Welsh Air Ambulance all because I took on a challenge that was too big for my capability. Fear made me take a moment to think, I should really turn back round, it wasn’t safe to proceed, I was out of my depth and risking my life all for a silly black ribbon on my medal. 

I asked if I could have some water from the checkpoint crew. The lady shifted a little uncomfortably and asked if I definitely really needed the water. I was aware there were no water stations on the mountain but the checkpoint had emergency water. I said yes, I needed the water and apologised at the same time in the typical British manner. I don’t like asking for help, but I knew if I was going to continue then without that little bottle of water to hydrate me, I’d likely end up being an emergency case at some point up the mountain. She smiled and passed me a bottle of water, it never tasted so good. I downed the whole lot. I passed the empty bottle back, took a deep breath and continued reluctantly up the path.

After the fear subsided the elation began to trickle through like bubbles popping inside my stomach. I did it. I really did it. It didn’t matter about pace now, it was just a case of one foot in front of the other and keep moving. The pathway was tough and as I rounded a corner, there it was. The summit towering above me and it was within reach, it was steep but close enough to see the people clustered at the top waiting for their photos to be taken at the cairn, I could even hear them. Fear began to flood back along with a thousand questions. What if I lose my way? What if I slip? What if I take so long the marshals have all packed up and gone home?

Runners were still scurrying down the mountain past me, and I started worrying more that I was going to take too long, that I would run out of water or food, or hit the wall, I was so scared that I had made the wrong decision, when a friendly voice chirped up ahead of me.


I looked up at the lady standing in front of me whilst feeling quite puzzled.

“My name is Suzie and I’m here to make sure you get to the summit safely.”

Suzie turned out to be my wonderful guardian angel. All the way from Warrington which isn’t too far from my home town of Northwich, she was there as a tail runner to make sure the last athletes got up the final scramble in one piece. Immediately the warmth of having a companion at my side made me feel instantly better with a more positive outlook at the journey ahead. There were a couple of times where the path snaked into several trails to choose from, all had the same destination, but it was a relief to have Suzie there advising on which one to take. There were a few times I was climbing up boulders, I remember being very grateful I had good trail shoes on and it wasn’t raining because at one point there was quite a large, slick boulder I had to climb up. I saw Louise run down past me, and started wondering where Marie was, she should have surely gone past me by now but I figured she must have taken a side path and I would have missed her.

As we approached the end of the final scramble there was a young man dressed in red, sitting on a rock at the side, nursing his head in his hands. Feeling much more positive I called out to him to ask if he was ok. His name was James and he waved his hand looking slightly dazed telling me and Suzie to go on past him. I laughed and said she couldn’t because she was the tail runner and needed to look after us both. I was quite happy waiting with the pair of them whilst he took a few more minutes to prepare himself for the final section of the mountain that is Snowdon. Even though there was absolutely no pressure, James stood up and didn’t want to hold anyone up, so started to take one step in front of the other with us at his side. 

I noticed I had started to get slightly ahead of James and Suzie, they weren’t far behind but I could see the flag for where we needed to get to and I was filled with excitement. I would soon be going down. I finished the final corner, and there it was! The top of Snowdon! Standing next to the ROC flag wafting in the breeze was Marie.

“I hope you haven’t been waiting for me!” I cried to her as I got in earshot. I had the biggest smile on my face knowing we had both made it to the top.

Marie laughed and said “No, no, I just wanted to have a breather for a few minutes before heading back down.” She was drinking some of her water from her mountain pack. One of the marshalls tugged at my bag to inspect how much water there was left. She pulled a face and told me to go easy, I didn’t think I’d drank too much so thought maybe she hadn’t got a proper inspection, there should have been quite a lot left so she must have been wrong.

I looped around the flag so my chip was logged, and was slightly disappointed I’d reached the summit but couldn’t get a photo of the cairn. Getting a photograph would have meant a few more metres and some queuing which most years during a race would be fairly unacceptable. With the pandemic however, Snowdon had seen huge numbers queuing for that famous photo and the current queue was expected to take around an hour. Really not acceptable mid-race!

Setting off back down the mountain with Marie next to me I was swamped with feelings of relief. I had got to the top of Snowdon. I had done what I had set out to do. That fretful moment of looking along the coastline to the distant mountain seemed a lifetime ago, and now I was standing on top of it. No car, no train, no assistance, just me and my legs and my faithful bike. I looked across towards the coast from the summit, and knew that was my way home. That cluster of white dots along the coast was Abersoch and where Andy was standing waiting for me.

I bid Marie farewell as she dashed off down the steep and windy paths, I took a photo of her as she descended down the mountain far ahead of me. James shortly followed, he had soon found his running legs again and dashed past me and moments later was gone. The downhill was a bit too technical for me, I didn’t want to risk an injured ankle or busted knee, trip or a fall, just to save a few minutes off my time, so I decided to take it easy and think carefully about my descent down the scramble. I ended up walking alongside a guy from Sandbach, also not too far from my hometown. He was up the mountain for the day and hadn’t expected so many runners going up and down the trail. We had a good talk along the way and as I was getting ready to run again after the scree section he paused and said he had intended to follow me back down the Watkin path, however after talking with me he was now debating continuing up a different path to Bwlch Ciliau. I asked him “Why not?” and he replied “I don’t know if my legs can do it.”

I replied, “It’s not whether your legs can do it, it’s whether your mind can do it.”

A man’s voice spoke up from behind us “Right, that’s made my mind up! I was debating the same thing, and that is what I needed to hear, I’m going up!” 

I laughed and waved farewell to them both as they carried on their adventure up another bloody big hill, and I began to jog downwards on my way back. It wasn’t far before two ladies stopped me asking how it was. I laughed and told them it was great to be coming down! They said I’d done so well to have done all those miles so far. I was quite surprised, most of the hikers didn’t have a clue what we were upto on the mountain and most asked what we were doing. It turned out the two ladies were booked onto the ROC for 2022 and were doing a recce of the run. We had a quick exchange about the event, and then I wished them well and carried on my way.

I pulled my phone out and recorded a quick video; “Just coming down Snowdon, I have run a bit, I swear. I got through the checkpoint, I’m really happy about that, I was last through. I’m currently in last place, but I did it! I did it…” Then I clicked stop before the tears came! I was so proud of myself, I put my phone away and sucked some of the water from my hydration bag. Empty. It was bloody empty. I started to laugh and wondered if I would have been as happy as I was on the video if I’d tried to drink from it before I had pulled my phone out!

I passed a man running down with walking poles, I wished him well as I passed, and I came across the medic that had been determined to fix my knee that wasn’t broken. I asked him how much further it was to the checkpoint this time and he said it was 2 or 2.5km depending on who you asked. I thanked him and carried on down. It wasn’t far to go without water, and running downhill was a lot more economical than uphill! I had a bit of a battle with myself, worrying again whether I would turn into a skeleton at the side of the trail like a cartoon from the 80s. I told myself it wasn’t far, I could top up my water bottles and drink whatever I needed when I got to transition before the ride home.

The trail wasn’t too bad for running down, some sections were quite technical and it was quite common to take a little trail that ended up in a problematic place. At one point I was about 6ft higher than the other people walking the trail, and the only way down was either to go back, or down a 6ft drop over slick boulders. Being scared of heights, but also very tired at this point it became a bit of a difficult choice! I figured however that I was quite tall, and just by sitting on the rock and dangling my legs down, I wasn’t actually that high up. So sliding down it was!

About 1km from the transition I spotted James walking. I ran towards him and he ushered me past. I laughed and said I’d prefer a chat, I’d run out of water so didn’t want to flog myself silly anyhow. We had a good chat about the ROC and why he was there. Turns out he was from London but his folks lived nearby, he was suffering with achy legs and niggles in his knees and he had been really worried about pushing it with the upcoming bike ride back to Abersoch. He said the bike was his faster discipline, and as we approached transition I told him I expected him to chase me down.

I got back to the tent, replenished my water supplies and downed a litre of water. I overheard James saying he didn’t know how he managed to do it and he was so glad I’d been there with him. I grabbed my bike and set off. It was a lonely ride back, I knew I wasn’t going to be catching anyone up at that stage, and there was only James and the other chap behind me. My thoughts turned to James shortly after and literally right then I heard a “Well done Jenny! Keep going!” just as he whizzed past me. He was gone moments later, he was like a rocket! 

It was still so hot, and near the halfway point my legs started to get tired. My brain would say “I have tired legs” and I would say out loud to myself “No! I have strong legs!”. I would have appeared to have lost my marbles, let’s face it, talking to yourself might be the first sign of madness, but then I suppose it depends what you’re saying to yourself. I find sometimes the nasty, negative voice in my head gets so loud, that actually speaking out loud to it seems to make it less real, and helps it shut the hell up or at least pipe down. I kept asking myself if I’d drank and eaten enough, but I’ll be honest I couldn’t face another bike of Kendal Mint Cake, but I kept munching out of fear I’d hit the wall and not make it. I also shortly after ran out of water again.

I had decided to stop off at the water station at Criccieth and fill up, but when I got there, it had sadly gone. A pit of sadness filled up inside me. I had taken too long, the marshalls were all going home and I was a hindrance. I decided the dregs of water I had in my bottles would suffice, and there was only around an hour left now. Most hour long training sessions I wouldn’t drink water, and I’d drank plenty all day I supposed. I’d just have to get by and keep my legs going round and round, one foot in front of the other, and I’d get there eventually.

Getting into Pwllheli and the first marshal was sitting down and looked surprised when I approached, so I knew I definitely wasn’t catching anyone. I must have been incredibly far behind. It was difficult to stay in good spirits, it had been a very lonely bike ride back. A couple of vans had gone past beeping at me and waving through the window so I figured they must have been part of the race crew. I was checking the cars going past expecting them to have bikes on the back or the roof, the people who had finished hours ago, but in truth I didn’t see a single one. Giving up now however was non negotiable. I kept going. I got out of the saddle at every hill available so I could wiggle my pelvis and try to ease my aching back. I knew I was dehydrated, I had started to read signs wrong and my brain was playing tricks on me like thinking a sheep was a polar bear at one point. 

Into Abersoch, I made poor judgement with road traffic, nothing dangerous, but I had expected to turn quicker and my energy had just gone. A lot of people stood at the roadside clapping and cheering me on, I once again tried to cry. Down the final hill and I was back towards transition. Andy was there shouting “Well done! You’ve done it! You’ve got this! 1km left!”. I stopped at the mount line, but one of my cleats was stuck in my pedal! My legs were so tired I was stuck, I just couldn’t twist my leg out of it. I laughed and paused, gave my leg a wiggle and another twist and managed to get free from the bike. Into transition I swapped my bike and helmet for my running shoes and set off for the final kilometre on the beach.

A lady shouted to me “Just around the flag and back through the finish!”, I got running, I kept running, I was running the final section… but where the hell was the flag? I saw a lady holding a green flag, but there were no footprints heading towards her from the previous runners. I then noticed she wasn’t even holding a flag, I have no idea why my brain had thought it had seen a flag. I started walking and called out to nobody in particular “Where the hell is the flag?” Someone called out it was the white one by the metal fence up ahead. There it was! I could see it clearly and yes, this one was real.

Andy was alongside me, walking with me. The sand was dry and well, sandy! It wasn’t the easiest to run on, and I was truly drained. Andy ran back as I was approaching the flag so he could video me through the finish line. Many of the people on the beach were clapping and cheering me on. A man stood by the flag and clapped, telling me well done. I thanked him, then he looked awkward and said “So, did you take the wrong junction or something?”. I erupted with laughter, and said “No, I’m just really slow!” It was the funniest thing I had heard all day. As I got to the final 200m a few people cheered me on and told me to run because they’re all waiting for me. I laughed and said “Let them wait”. Someone had left a black and red backpack on the beach, and I had decided that was my marker, I would run from there and finish strong.


I did it. Marie, James and of course Andy were all at the finish line and embraced me in hugs and took photos. I had made friends, I had made memories, I had found my purpose, I had faced up to the mountain.

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I am a qualified Coach in Running Fitness and Triathlon Coach and I’d love to help you get faster and smash your next event. Whether you’re looking to complete or compete, I can help create the perfect plan to get you upto the pace or distance required.

I have quite a holistic approach and like to give you training that lights a fire in your belly, workouts that make your heart sing! It’s my job as a coach to work with you and find out what makes you tick to bring out your best results.

If you would like to know more and think I might be the right coach for you Contact Me or check out my page on Running Training Plans.

Jen Coppock
Jen Coppock
run & Triathlon Coach
llangollen, North Wales