Fraser Cartmell’s tips for this weekend’s British Middle Distance Triathlon Championships

Last year’s winner shares his tips for Sunday's Aberfeldy Triathlon in Scotland, host of 2014's penultimate British Age-Group Champs

The swim at Aberfeldy Triathlon

We’ve already heard from the women’s winner of last year’s Aberfeldy Triathlon, Eleanor Haresign, now it’s time to get some top advice from Fraser Cartmell, who won the men’s race last year in 4:14:18.

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More than 600 triathletes are expected to arrive in Perthshire this Sunday for the event, which marks the penultimate British Age-Group Championships of the season – the last being the British Duathlon Champs at Emberton Country Park on 12 October).

The course starts with a 1.9km lap of Loch Tay, followed by a testing 90km ride through the Scottish Highlands that includes a couple of tough climbs, and finishing with a 21.1km out-and-back run over undulating terrain that finishes back into town.

On the bike leg at Aberfeldy Triathlon

“The swim at Aberfeldy is in Loch Tay, which being one of the bigger freshwater bodies in the UK (and deep!) is never a warm place to swim unfortunately,” says Fraser. “I would argue there are two schools of thought when approaching cold water swims: either to get in as early as you can and really acclimatise as best as possible to the temperature. The other angle to approach from – and the one I tend to favour – is to get in at the last minute after having completed an extended dry land warm up including lots of arm mobility, running on the spot etc to get the blood flowing. 

“Not to make for an ‘easy’ event, the bike ride in Aberfeldy is also a tough task,” he adds. “Climbing up and over a reasonable climb early in the bike ride certainly let’s you know you’re tackling a demanding race. I would suggest using an easier gear than normal if you can. If not for the first climb but certainly for later in the ride when you climb back up over the same road around the 75k mark. 

“Finally, pack extra warm layers for T1. If the weather is unkind this coupled with feeling chilly after the swim in Loch Tay can result in a cold and long day. One aspect of a hilly bike that people forget is the descending (what goes up must come down after all) and I have been caught out in Aberfeldy in the past because of getting cold on these descents off the hills.” 

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Check back on 220triathlon.com for post-race coverage – good luck to everyone racing!