If all you want is the management summary, I can give you that in one word - "Horrendous". For more detail, read on...
When we left (around 5:30am) it was sunny, cold, but sunny, with high wispy cloud. As we drove north it got less sunny, more cloudy and generally grey. We arrived and parked, and it started to rain - it did not stop raining all day, varying between the steady sort and torrential downpours. Grim.
At registration, the organisers had thoughtfully posted details of the water temperature (13, ie: cold), and the air temperature (10, ie: even colder) - thanks for that.
We started (late) in several waves, and putting aside the fact that it was really very cold indeed, the swim out wasn"t too bad, however, on turning back, someone had turned on the wave machine, and it was very choppy which made it interesting trying to spot the buoys.
Having been hauled out of the water with cramp, and no feeling in my hands or feet, I tottered towards my bike, but not before seeing one person with hypothermia on a stretcher wrapped in blankets. This set the tone for the rest of the day.
After several attempts, I decided that putting socks on was a non-starter, shoes were still a problem and I ended up getting some assistance from one of the marshals - not a promising start. After a mile on the bike I started to consider giving up, but the ignominy of posting a DNF forced me on. I will not go into the gory details of the bike course, suffice it to say that it was hilly, wet, and very cold. I had to do the whole thing in the middle ring as I didn"t have enough feeling in my hands to change up or down on the front mech - luckily I could just about change gear on the rear cassette.
It"s not often I can say I looked forward to the up bits, but I did - firstly there was less wind chill, secondly you had to work harder so got a shade les cold, and thirdly I didn"t have to attempt any braking...
On the way back I saw lots of miserable people at the side of the road wrapped in space blankets waiting to be picked up - there was even one guy in a phone box - I did consider joining him. I had just about talked myself out of even starting the run, when suddenly the outskirts of Bala appeared - joy unbounded.
Achievement of the day had to be managing to brake hard enough to actually stop in the dismount area - was I OK? No I was not. Did I want to go to the medical tent to warm up? No thank you... Press on. I got my very own bike racking, helmet undoing, sock putting on marshal - bet he hadn"t thought he"d be doing that on a Sunday afternoon! Rammed feet into shoes and set off. Unfortunately I couldn"t drink anything on the bike as I couldn"t hold the bottle, but had just about managed to eat a couple of bars (a bonus) - nowhere near enough as I found out later...
The run is out and back - undulating and up for half, then undulating and down coming back. It was all going relatively Ok until about 9 miles then the lack of food started to tell so I went for a run/walk configuration from then on. I can safely say I have never been so glad to get to the end of a race as I was that day, and with around a quarter of the field posting a DNF, I don"t think anyone would say they enjoyed any part of it!
I wont be going back next year as I"ve had enough now - two years in a row I"ve been rained on and frozen! It"s a great shame because it is a well organised, well marshalled, and (assuming you can actually see your surroundings) pretty race, and perfectly placed if you"re doing a July Ironman. However, don"t let this put you off - there is going to be a day when the sun shines, and it could be in 2012!