Conditions for Iain TwinBikeRun at Celtman were brutal. 3K swim, 120 mile bike and a marathon in 40mph headwinds and driving rain. However, I can report, with my duvet and pillow, the support car was roasty toasty.
Competitors need to register in Sheildaig and board the bus to the start line by 4am. There’s no access to the swim start for supporters so, once you’ve helped them set up at transition and register there’s nothing to do but keep warm and wait until they return to shore from 6am onwards. One of the local cafes was open, so there is an opportunity for some food or a hot drink, but I just used the time to try and catch up on sleep. We were up at 2:30am with a target of leaving the AirBnB at 2:45am so I’d only had a few hours sleep.
Sleep wasn’t helped by Iain TwinBikeRun booking another pre-race base with no curtains. And, just like Norseman, it was another night of trying to sleep while it was still as bright as noon outside. One day, maybe, Iain will book a room with blackout blinds..!
The swim exit is easy to find – it’s the one surrounded by supporters, braziers of fire and a drum troupe. You can’t miss it in Sheildaig. And with the drums banding away, you probably couldn’t miss in half the western Highlands.
You need your support t-shirt to access the exit and transition so remember to wear it as, with it, you can get onto the shore and help your competitor over the rocky beach and up to transition.
After you help them change, you pack up everything, pick up your car and you have a couple of hours before you can join them again. You’re not allowed to support competitors during the first 15 miles of the race. I used this time to go back to base, eat some breakfast, pick up Mrs TwinBikeRun and BabyTwinBike and ensure the car had everything for the rest of the day.
We met Iain TwinBikeRun around three hours after he started. We then tried to meet him roughly every 45 – 60 mins. He didn’t always stop but we wanted to give him the chance to pick up food or drink or to change into or out of his waterproof clothes.
The thing to watch out for on the bike course is that many parking spots are slightly off the road requiring you to pull in, rather than parking at the side of the road itself. It’s particularly tricky to find a spot on the road between Ullapool and Garve. So, you may want to agree in advance the spots you’ll meet.
Other than that, the support cars are well spread out and there’s plenty of room for everyone on the road. I had been concerned that the Gairloch coastal road may have seen some bottlenecking but there were no issues at all.
Car parking at Kinlochewe is challenging. This year, parking was in a field. A muddy field. A VERY muddy field. A local farmer had to pull some cars out of the field with a tractor as they struggled to get through mud at the entrance.
Luckily, we were directed to park just outside the field so had no problems but a lot of people were struggling and panicking about how they were going to get to the transition T2A without a car to take them there.
At T2A there’s no shelter, just a portaloo. This year, that meant I had to change into all my warm clothes and waterproofs while waiting for Iain TwinBikeRun to arrive. This was okay as it was largely dry while I waited with only a few brief showers. However, if it’s a decent day then you’ll normally be arriving here around peak midge times. So, if there weather is decent, prepare face the might of a million Scottish midges as you wait.
The race is well organised and each transition is supported by knowledgeable and friendly marshalls. We always knew where we were going, what we had to do and where we needed to go next.