The No Fuss Big Ben Nevis Triathlon – climbing the Ben Nevis staircase

A couple of weeks ago I raced….well…. took part in, if I’m more honest…. my first ever triathlon. Despite some totally knackered knees and a pretty pedestrian finishing time I have to admit I really enjoyed it!

The meatgrinder in question was the Big Ben Nevis Triathlon run by the tireless team at No Fuss, and it’s a bit different from your average triathlon in that it’s off-road. It ran over the standard Olympic triathlon distance, replacing road bike with mountain bike and road run with hill run. Again, I’m stretching the point a little there though – there wasn’t much running in evidence as we made our way up the side of The Ben….

Let’s take it from the start though. I did very little training for the swim. In fact, make that about twice the race distance in total. Three swims, all about 600m – good work Colin, nothing like being prepared. In reality though, despite my feeble attempts at training, the swim was fine. The fabled ‘equaliser’ proved it’s worth, my wetsuit floating me around the course so that even my mangled breast stroke, combined with erratic 20m stretches of front crawl, dragged me over the line. 27mins for 950m. Could be worse… Although there wasn’t in that race I’ll admit – I bumbled into transition 1 in joint last place!

Have no fear, however. The name of this blog probably gives away my strong section, and I managed to make up a fair few places on the bike. The course was actually really good fun, combining some punishing forest road with a couple of nice little downhills, one of which is particular was proper flowing singletrack – berms, jumps and all. I have to admit I never thought I’d be catching air in a triathlon but each time I passed that section I forgot all about the race and just screamed my way down the section with a big smile on my face. It was never to last though – the race marshall at the bottom kept bringing my back to earth with a bump, directing me up a lung busting land rover trail with an evil look in her eye.

Then, onto the run up Ben Nevis. And here’s where it all went wrong. A hill run they said, but calling the UK’s highest mountain a hill is akin to calling Jonny Vegas, ‘a wee bit tubby’. Three miles straight up – about 1800 feet of elevation in as quick a time as possible – and two very, very sore knees. That ‘quick’ time was not very quick, intermittent attempts at running giving way to a resigned, constant trudge after about half a mile. But I got there. Never has a half mars bar tasted so sweet, or a bearded, yellow vested man with a dibber looked so appealing. Again though, no rest for the absolutely fecked – a quick glance at the view and head off, stumbling back down the ‘hill’. Teeth jarring, knees screaming, but the last checkpoint in sight, I shambled on, until at last the big saddlespan tent came into sight.

6hrs and 21mins the floating, fun and frickin run had lasted –  a touch over 2/3 of the way down the list – and I was pretty delighted to be finished. I’d enjoyed it even more than I expected though, especially given the worry over my lack of training. I suspect it might be the first of a few triathlons in the future – the buzz, the camaraderie and the achievement are just a little too addictive. Maybe a road based one next time though…

[tags]triathlon, no fuss, fort william, ben nevis[/tags]


Colin started mountain biking in the early 2000s and has haphazardly, and with barely increasing skill, dragged his bike around the majority of Scotland's trail centres since then. Colin has oodles of hard earned experience in how NOT to do things - listen, be warned and don't repeat his mistakes...   More about Colin... Google+ Colin

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *