A middle-distance triathlon, that starts at midnight in a cold loch and includes over 1100m of climbing on the bike and two mountains on the run – that does sound like quite a challenge and many people tell us they would love to give it a go but they are not sure if they could manage it, or that they are scared of the dark!
Well, we would be lying if we said it was easy – but nothing this fun ever is! And with the right training, there is no reason why you can’t take part as a solo participant or as part of a relay, and have an incredible starlit adventure in the Cairngorms. We even have a Facebook group (Starman Night Tri Training Chatter) solely for participants to share questions and stories!
To help you out, we asked members of that group for their thoughts on STARMAN – was it tougher than expected? Was the swim not as scary as anticipated or was staying up all night the hardest part? Here are some of their answers!
Most people thought that:
– The swim was not as scary as imagined
– Staying up all night was not a challenge
– The cycle was darker than imagined
– The cycle was harder than imagined
– The run was tougher than imagined
Beth told us “The more times you do it, the less scary it is!”
There are many tales throughout the years of people coming across deer, foxes, owls, bats and hedgehogs, as well as the famous (and very placid) Cairngorm Reindeer Herd! Luckily no one has spotted any Loch Monsters (yet!).
So, let’s take each discipline and discuss what to expect!
– 1900m, made up of 4 loops
– Dark of course, except for glowstick lights on competitors, lights of the safety kayaks, and illuminated buoys as course markers. You don’t need a head torch or tow float (but are welcome to use one).
– Water temperatures will vary, but plan for 14 degrees and you might be lucky with 17!
– One quarter of the loop along the shore is shallow enough to walk if you need a break.
– You can get out early if you find it too much – just let us know and we will make a note of it. We are a relaxed and friendly event, and you can carry on with the bike and run.
– Jo told us “The swim was a tad scary but strangely exhilarating“!
– Roughly 90km with 1200m ascent.
– The bike course is incredibly beautiful, but you won’t see any of it! This is rural Speyside and it is VERY dark. There is very little light pollution – all the better to see the stars! – It’s unlikely you’ll see any cars and you might not see many other competitors either!
– Look out for animals on the road – people do use tri bars and TT bikes but you will need to keep your wits about you (including to make sure you don’t miss a turn sign).
– The route is generally pretty flat (for Scotland) and the road surface has been good each year – but the last 10km is uphill and it can be very challenging. Don’t underestimate the Cairngorm climb!
– Finally, you do need excellent lights and plan for them to be on for about 4 hours – spares lights and extra batteries are required. We also recommend one on your helmet so you can see when you need food or to check the time!
– Claire told us “The cycle was epic and way darker than I had imagined, but awesome, even in the wind and rain!”
(We don’t make promises about the weather!)
– Roughly 22km, with 1125m of ascent. There is around 1300m of descent, which will require strong quads and short toe nails!
– For many of you, at least part of the run will be watching the sunrise from Cairngorm – you can’t get better than that!
– You will need a head torch.
– The run is mostly trail and, for many, will include a lot of walking. Start on the Windy Ridge of Cairngorm to the summit, and down the steep fire road. You eventually run on the road for a short section before joining the undulating trail to Ryvoan Bothy and Meall a’ Bhuachaille. The second mountain is certainly more technically challenging, but we were treated to views of a rainbow over Loch Morlich in 2019 from the summit, so it’s worth the effort! The final 200m along the beach is tough but incredible!
– David said “I didn’t expect to get chased by a young reindeer“! (Note: they are very placid!)
So there you have it – hopefully we have put your mind at ease as much as possible! And if not, let Marcus convince you!
“What can you say about this tri? The t-shirt sums it up I think: ‘traumatically awesome’.
Brilliantly organised, great community atmosphere between competitors and especially the volunteers, who all deserve a special mention for being where they were all through the night. Unreal!
From the swim in the dark with bobbing glow sticks to the bike though dark countryside, seeing a dancing tail or front lights in the distance, to the bobbing head torches on the run until sunrise, where you are greeted with views that more than make up for the pain of the event… if you want something different, this tri is it! You won’t be disappointed but get in quick!”
What are you waiting for? Come and join us on 14th August 2021, and use the code EARLYBIRD2021 to receive £15 off this month!