The Duke Story

The Beltie Olympic Triathlon- Caroline’s Race Report

Well, I’m all about the food, that’s the main reason I do this sport… chippy carb loading the night before.

The Beltie, in Dumfries and Galloway, was a great experience for my own first ‘proper’ triathlon.

We went down the night before to settle the (my) nerves, make sure we weren’t late and had slept well, it was like I was learning the sport all over again. The stars were out and dark and it was so quiet.

Morning came and I was stressed, a shambles if I’m honest. I was worried about setting up the transition kit and making sure we had done everything we had needed to. Poor Richard, I must have been a pain.

We registered, I faffed about wanting to go for breakfast or transition. Transition set up won, then some toast for breakfast.

Kind of wished I drank coffee, but it is still truly disgusting and just not for me (yet).

Getting ready for the swim, last minute toileting… tmi, but you know, needs must and all that.

The swim was 1500m which was two laps of open water swimming. My first of the distance, I’d done training in the pool and been ok. Swimming outdoors though felt a bit different. To make sure I wasn’t going to keel over in the water and not finished I did a mixture of front crawl mostly and a bit of breast stroke.

Got perked up at the start of the second lap with the cheers from the crowd well wishing you on.

The heavens opened whilst I was in the water. That was the first time I’ve swam in rain like it bizarrely. What a strange experience.

I was racing another swimmer in the water trying to overtake towards the end, I think I made it, but was so keen to not fall over getting out and into ‘T1’ that I don’t remember if I managed.

I wasn’t last out the water – I certainly was no where near first, but, I had made the first part.

Richard was in transition. I checked in with him to see how he was getting on, all the while trying to wrestle myself out of my wet suit.

No matter how hard I try, I just can’t get out of my suit quickly 🙄

Tbh, I’ve improved, but this time I’d forgotten to take my watch off and it got stuck in the sleeve, pretty sure I spent a couple of minutes flailing around looking like a right numpty.

I had most of my cycling kit on underneath my wet suit so only had to get on my top with puncture repair kit and food in.

Job done, I rolled out of transition.
I stopped, SHOELACES! Always check before you go was the tip I’d been given, so one last yank of them and I was running up the hill to the start of the cycle.

One of these days I’ll need to write L & R on my 🤚🏻. Friends will generally know, I’m a little bit shocking at directions. I’ll firmly say left when I’m pointing right. Thankfully it was pretty much left all the way round.

I’d been told it was a fast route and I enjoyed the 🚴‍♀️ bumping over the tarmac on a thin bike is a new experience. Road biking was only something I’d tried a few times the month prior to the race and I was borrowing Richards ‘spare’ bike so crapping my pants on the fast parts and worrying about getting round with the wind, all a little unnerving, but, great fun. (I still prefer my mtb at the moment)

I had already had a bite to eat in T1, it was to do me until I got to T2. I tried to eat but was so nervous about getting the food out of my back pocket that I didn’t try in the end. But, I did successfully drink twice from my water bottle and replace it without falling off. It was a miracle.

I overtook some people but mostly had the road to myself. Everyone was very polite, there’s a no drafting rule, so you have to overtake or fall back 10secs worth. I got fired past by competitors doing the big beltie (on their second laps), with their ridiculous thigh muscles and almost air like wheels zooming over the road, I was in awe.

I came in off the cycle, 40km, and was not quite a dithering wreck, but had to have the instructions repeated to me to get off my bike and walk / run down to T2.

Bike racked again, I tried to dump by spare tyre and levers so that I didn’t have to run, what a palaver. Transition is literally my worst discipline 🙄.


checked again and just as well, needed tightening up. Munched a bit of a bar and had a gel. I was ready to go again.

The run, I’ve not mentioned it before, but I hate running in the heat. I prefer winter, that cold feeling of air rushing through your lungs, it’s invigorating. Having hot air plus the face of a beetroot, well, not so helpful. But on I went.

I came past a runner on his way back! He was either a total speed demon and or off for his second lap… but either way the camaraderie is such that I wished him luck and he did for me too.

I admit I had to walk a bit, jelly legs when I came out of transition had worn off when I ran down with the bike, but I was not very hydrated and it was hot. And there was a hill, well, more than one, but, the only bit I really walked was into a little forest trail at the beginning. There was someone in a relay team who said they would at least have someone to follow up on the run, but all I was bothered about was being overtaken.

There were a good amount of water stations which I was grateful for. The people manning them said just to drop the cup, but I don’t like littering so I just handed it over or placed it down feeling guilty that they’d have to pick it up for me – the luxurious life of a sportster.

I got over taken by the big beltie guys, and used them to motivate me to get past those who I was chasing down.

I overtook a few people whilst trying to give them a mental boost on the way round and saying they were doing really well (they were) and to keep going.

When you are out doing this sport it can feel (to me) quite lonely.
You have to generally solely rely on yourself (well and your bike). I have tended to only really play team sports before so this has been a bit of a difference, and a fair challenge too.

Towards the end of the run I was checking my watch. I use kms to mentally work through the distances that remain, to get to 3k, then 5, then 7.5, then 9, then 10. I don’t particularly like running but I find I can be annoyingly competitive with myself, I don’t tend to give up.

My watch said 10 and I was assuming it was just around the corner, a wee bit more to go but I got my second wind. I started extending my stride, ready to finish as best I could.

Down the hill, through the village where some competitors were packing up to go home, I was cheered on.

Zipping through the finish line with a smile on my face I had had a blast.
Richard had finished already and was collecting the bikes I got a finishers kiss at the end.

I was relieved to make it through in one piece, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

My usual sun kissed face and goggle marks are now my M.O. I also gained some perma tan lines on my legs.

Over all a fabulous experience, delighed to have been gently persuaded to do it. If Joanna hadn’t suggested it, I would never have thought it possible to give a go with such little experience under my belt.

Challenge 1 of silly September. Done.

Lessons learnt:
No one looks good in a swim cap
Eat more and drink more when on the bike, hydrating gives a mental boost
Have fun
Just do it.
We need more females to take part.

Fundraising link: borders bladder scanner for the bgh.

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