It was with mixed emotions that Andy Nicholls and I dragged our families the 200 miles up to the top corner of England to take on 2 of the many events on offer at the growing Keswick Festival Weekend.For Andy, his first ever triathlon and for me my first event on proper hills. Our wives decided on the flat and opted on a 1500m swim in Derwent water.
The festival offers something for everyone with a mix of 5,10,25 or ultra50km trail runs around the hills and mountains (they felt like mountains anyway) as well as a lake swim and short or long triathlon. The long Triathlon being just £6 more than the short but twice the distance and we were sold. How hard could it be? Well, we were to find out.
Registration was early but quick and efficient in the festival village by the lake on the outskirts of Keswick. We then set up our kit and awaited the 10am start. First up, the swim. 800m in 11oC water numbed the toes and fingers and the 340 starters splashing their way around in various attempts at recognised strokes. Beginners are definitely welcome here. Out of the lake and a short run to the bike before 35km of the best climbs Keswick has to offer. The scenery is breath taking. It’s a challenging route with the declines being as hard as the inclines. At least 2 people ended their race with downhill crashes.
About 2 hours later and the 10km trail run was up last. The imposing hill / mountain-ette of Latrigg stands over Keswick daring you to tackle its paths and tackle it we did. A quick run out of town on Tarmac paths and then on to the steep trail up to the main zigzagging paths to the summit. The wind was howling but wow. What a view. From the top Keswick and festival village lies before you like a toy town next to a picture postcard scene of lake and hills was worth every blister, scrape, breath and swear word. Now, full on down hill sprint back in to town (pushing past tourists and shoppers who desperately tried to avoid a brush with 3 hour old sweat) and back in to the village to be cheered over the line in 3hrs06 for me and 3hrs38 for Andy, and to get our event medal.
The evening provided festival entertainment with Dodgy amongst other bands and lots of food stalls around. Loads of things for the kids to do too and plenty of freebies available. The following day brought the other trail runs with the ultra starting at 06:30am and the others starting from 9am.
A great weekend and a tough but picturesque introduction for Andy and me to Olympic distance multi sport. [Matt]