The event must be good because we came back again this year!
As Cairngorm Triathletes, it is wonderful to have an event like Starman on our home turf. We train and play in the Cairngorms all year round, but nothing can quite prepare you for the madness of the Starman.
Loch Morlich, our local swimming pool, is a totally different Loch when darkness falls and the waters are choppy. The swimmers, resembling aliens with their glowsticks, enter the water in waves. Phil was in the last wave and the tension is tangible as one by one the groups enter the water and are away into the dark abyss. The only things visible are the flashing blue buoys and the sea of green glowsticks moving through the water.
Transition to me on the bike is quick; Phil has done a fast, strong swim. I leave the safety and light of T1 and am immediately struck by how dark it is on the road; a full moon assists us on our way. The route is a local training ride for us, which means it includes statutory cake stops. Passing a closed and dark Nethy House pulled on the heartstrings, knowing I had to climb Corriechullie hill without the usual assistance of caffeine and cake!
The descent to Grantown is fast and furious, the darkness making it all the more thrilling than in daylight. As we turn south along the Spey the wind hits us, the reality of a headwind all the way back to Cairngorm kicks in and so does the peloton action seeking that bit of reprieve in the wind tunnel. Carrbridge comes soon enough and the monsoon strikes, but somehow this adds to the enjoyment of the challenge.
I managed to get in a fast three-person peloton from Carrbridge – my little legs have never cycled so fast but this was my ticket to Coylum and I was not letting them go (thank you Andrew Aitken and the Dundonnel MRT cyclist!).
Then that climb – weary legs, a wind that’s blowing you backwards from the Ciste to Cairngorm on the final push and then the lights of T2, which were an absolute relief. There’s Nicki shouting my name, grabbing the dibber and she’s off. There’s a gale blowing and away into the darkness and rain she goes, to be rewarded by seeing sunrise and reindeers while descending from the summit. Down, down, down to Glenmore then the long slog up Meall a “Brutal” before the descent back to Glemore, and along the beach where she manages a wee dance on her way to the finish line, with a smile splitting her face.
No words can really match the feeling you get being part of Starman – the camaraderie from fellow competitors, the encouraging marshals, the bike support and the amazing massage at the end make it a force to be reckoned with.
Will we be back next year – watch this space!