Category Archives: Celtman

Celtman 2022 – Swim (Iain)

That’s me at the bottom of the picture. I’m trying to run away!

The day before the race I visited the swim location as the organizers had arranged a social swim. The conditions were pretty brutal. It was wet, windy and there was allot of choppy waves. The organizers shortened the swim distance and asked everyone to just do a 100m swim in a slightly less blustery section.

The water wasn’t as cold as I had expected but it was a struggle in the wind. I did 200m and then got out. That was enough to give me a feel of what it would be like on race day.

Race morning arrived and the alarm went off horribly early (0230). I got up and I eat a bowl of crunchy nut cornflakes getting my wetsuit on. I’d packed the car the night before so I there would be nothing to do in the morning other than drive to the start.

We arrived in Sheildaig around 0330. I racked my bike and picked up my dibber and GPS unit. Sheildaig is a long town so give yourself plenty of time to walk the length of it. There was allot of people about and I could feel the race atmosphere.

There was a bit of hanging about when I got to the swim start. A band played music and some fires were lit but I’d rather have just got in the sea and started swimming. I hate hanging about for races to start.

I entered the water towards the back of the field, deliberately trying to limit my time in the water before the swim start. The sea tempreture was 13C-ish. Normally I wouldn’t bother with vest, gloves and socks at that tempreture but I didn’t want to take any chance that I’d get cold so I wore them all.

I quickly got into my rhythm and focused on staying relaxed and breathing every couple of strokes and sighting every 30s or so. Up until the second island I saw the odd jelly fish and I wondered what the fuss was about. I then reached the second island.

I’ve never seen so many jellyfish. It was like swimming into a massive wall of jellyfish. They were everywhere. Every stroke would result in me punching a jellyfish out the way. This lasted until I came to shore.

I emerged and my brother helped me to transition 1. I checked my watch and saw it had taken less than my goal time of 70 minutes. So i was pleased with that.

I saw other competitors shaking from the cold, but I felt perfectly fine. The extra layers had made all the difference. With the help of my brother I started to change into my cycle gear. He gave me a drink of Pepsi as I got changed. It was a sugary hit!

At one point I started to put on my sun glasses. My brother said “you won’t need them” He was right….

Celtman 2022 – Pre-race (Iain)

Extreme triathlons tend to take place in beautiful remote locations. Celtman is no exception. It takes place in Torridon. A tiny village enclosed by mountains and sea. But there is a downside to the location. It can be very difficult to get accommodation near to the race.

If I’m interested in an event I try to book my accommodation before I get a confirmed place. That way I beat the rush of other people looking for accomodation too. I was able to sort out a house 45 minutes from the start. Which for this part of the world counts as being close by.

The place I booked was

It wasn’t cheap but nothing here is. But it was clean and comfy. It was a good base for the weekend. There is a local supermarket just 5 minutes away. They had a good choice of local food and mainstream brands.

The accomodation

I’d booked the accommodation from the Thursday to the Sunday of the race weekend. I headed to it on the Thursday. I like to arrive two days beforehand so that the Friday is not a rush. Andrew, his wife and his daughter were due to arrive too but he phoned to say they’d all come down with a sickness bug.

Which was a slight worry as they were my support crew. But I was confident they’d make it up so I didn’t let it worry me.

I got a good nights sleep. I’d brought my own pillow to ensure that I did sleep ok. I learnt that tip from the Tour De France. The riders also bring their own pillow as they don’t know how good their bed will be each night.

On the Friday I went to the social swim. This is a small gathering in Sheildaig were you can do a practice swim in the sea. The conditions were abysmal. There was big waves in the sea so the organizers shortened the course. I quite enjoy swimming in waves so I went straight in and did a quick loop. The water temperature wasn’t too cold (12.5C) and it boosted my confidence that I wouldn’t have to worry about temperature the next day.

In the afternoon I had to register. They are very strict about the mandatory kit. I had a baseball cap with me but they deemed it not good enough as a cap. Thankfully my brother had turned up by this point and he had a spare beanie cap he could lend me.

I would argue the baseball cap was a better cap than his beanie but its the organizers who have the final say.

I asked them what most people get wrong and they replied “Bringing toy whistles instead of proper whistles.” If you do the race, don’t skimp on your whistle!

After the kit check I sat for an hour listening to the race briefing. By the end of the hour I had a very sore bum! That is why its an extreme triathlon, normal triathlons would have supplied chairs.

After getting back to the accommodation there was time for a last check of the kit and then a photo. I was in bed by 1930 in the hope I’d get a decent sleep before the race…

Celtman 2022 – Training (Iain)

When I look back at my Norseman training plan this statement stands out.

” I couldn’t have done much more, based on the time I had available and the desire to still have a life outside of training.”

So that was my key goal for training for this race – still have a life outside training.

To remove the anxiety of knowing whether i was training enough I decided to buy a Celtman training plan. I got it from

I had to purchase a training peaks (TP) account to use it. It was an interesting way to train…..I will write a separate blog about it.


The training plan advised two or three swims a week. I did one session a week. Swimming is my most time consuming exercise as it involves at least an hour round trip from my house to my pool. I didn’t want to spend my time driving too and from swimming when i could be biking/running instead.

Thankfully my swim technique is pretty good so I decided all I really needed to do was work on my swim fitness. I did one 2.2K swim a week. And that was fine for me.

I’m also pretty confident dealing with cold water so I didn’t feel the need to overly practice swimming in it. I did a couple of pre-swims just to remind myself what it would feel like. That was also fine for me.

My view of swimming in triathlons is that if you are not looking to win the race then spend your time training the parts that will actually make a significant difference to your time – biking/running.


The key sessions for the bike were a shorter faster set on a Tuesday and a longer bike ride at the weekend.

I mostly used Zwift until about April. It was the most time efficient way to train as I could do it in my house.

From April I tried to do the longer ride outdoors BUT I mostly did it on a mountain bike. Yes – a mountain bike. I don’t really enjoy long rides on my road bike. I find it a bit boring. So instead I would head off on my mountain bike and find interesting roads and tracks to ride.

I also (maybe mistakenly) thought that these rides would be better for me as the bike is heavier and therefore it would need more effort to ride it. I hoped this would mean that when I finally did get on my road bike it would feel easy.

My longest pre-race ride was 6 hours. Which I did a couple of times to ensure that I was used to being on a bike for a long period of time.

I only rode my road bike three times before Celtman. And that was mainly to check it still worked.


The running schedule was a shorter hillier run on a Thursday and a longer run at the weekend.

I enjoy running so this was easy enough to follow. It was actually slightly less than I would normally run.

The only issue was that I developed an achilles injury at the start of April. This meant I choose to only run once a week. Which was enough to keep my running fitness but not enough to make my injury worse.

I’d have liked to have done more but I think I made the correct decision to ensure that I made it to the start line of the race,

Celtman 2022 – Intro (Iain)

Celtman is my local extreme triathlon. It’s extreme because it’s colder, longer, hillier, windier and more jellyfishy than a normal triathlon.

I’m the one in the pink cap

You can see what I mean by watching this video

I was supposed to do the race back in 2020 but it was understandably cancelled as the jelly fish refused to socially distance from the swimmers. My place was deffered to 2021 but due to a family bereavement I didn’t have the time or motivation to go through with the race.

The organizers then announced a new Celtman race called Zero Point Five. A shorter less colder, less longer, less hillier, less windier but with the same amount of jellyfish than the big race. Lets call it baby Celtman.

It sounded great so I entered it. Then a few week later I won a place at big Celtman. I hadn’t planned on doing the big race, I had only entered to increase my chances of getting in at a later date.

The races were scheduled to be one week apart. How difficult could it be to do an extreme triathlon and then do another tough race a week later?

The fact the celtman zero point five number is tattered and broken is a visual spoiler of what happened…

Training for Celtman – Four Weeks to Go (Andrew)

Last week, as it looked like Moray was going to remain in Tier 3 lockdown restrictions while the rest of Scotland moved to Tier 2, I wrote my friends and colleagues in Moray a song:

When the COVID’s sky high in Findrassie and Roseisle

That’s a-Moray!

Where the police block the streets if more than two people meet

That’s a-Moray!

When masks are in bins because “we got the vaccine!”

That’s a-Moray!

When we’re ruled by the SNP but we all voted for a Tory…

That’s a-Moray! (A-Moray!)

That’s a-Moray!

Of course, three days later it was announced that Moray was not the only region to remain in Tier 3, Glasgow was also going to remain in Tier 3. Which means that we can no longer travel outside the city as the rest of the country will be Tier 2 and you can’t leave a Tier 3 area to go to an area with a lower rating.

Which means, for the moment, I cannot travel to Celtman or to some of my favourite swimming spots. With four weeks to go, unless anything changes, it looks very unlikely I’ll be taking part in Celtman as: (a) I might not be able to travel to the Highlands; or (b) even if I could, I won’t be ready to swim.

I’ll see what happens in the next four weeks but I put my chances now at less than 25%.

Training for Celtman 2021 – April (Andrew)

I cannot lift my arms. Every time I try and raise them a ripple of pain runs from my elbows to my shoulders. The same happens when I try and lie on them. Any weight on them leaves them throbbing and numb. After an hour of trying to get to sleep I get up and get some painkillers before sitting in the living room waiting for them to kick in. It takes three hours, 4am, before I can move an arm without hurting. I finally go back to bed cursing every stroke I swam tonight.

It’s mid April and Pinkston Watersports has reopened for swimming in Glasgow. As it’s April, and the temperature is hovering around seven degrees, I decide to swim in full hood, boots, gloves and an extra vest. Unfortunately so much lycra twists my body in the water so I’m gliding through it like a broken corkscrew made of concrete. Every stroke feels like I’m trying to contort my body round a u-bend. After a couple of laps, one kilometre, I can’t swim any further. I think I’m just out of practice, my technique poor and my arms weak, but through the rest of the evening my arms become more and more sore.

In six weeks I need to swim three kilometres, that night I couldn’t even lie down for three minutes.

The following week, I don’t bother with boots, swim slower and concentrate entirely on stretching out flat in the water. It helps. I don’t need to raid a pharmacy on my way home but it does show that trying to get to a 3K swim in just a few weeks is a big ask. I’ll keep adding some distance with every swim and hopefully I’ll build some confidence that I won’t need more drugs than Lance Armstrong to complete the bike leg after the swim.

Saying that, I’m still not sure the race will go ahead. Triathlon Scotland are limiting waves to 30 people (including support and volunteers), which would mean Celtman would need have starting waves. I believe Celtman is not part of Triathlon Scotland, so doesn’t have to follow the guidelines, but for insurance, I wonder how it can avoid them completely. Further details on how the race will be run will be out in the next few weeks. For the moment, I continue to try and get ready to start.

Training for Celtman 2021: July (Andrew)

This month I’ve mostly been racing in Spain, Norway, Argentina and Slovakia. Or at least the closest equivalent I could find within a few miles of my house.

I’ve entered the MyXtri world tour. A series of 14 events based on inconic stage of the 14 Xtri extreme triathlons. Whether it’s cycling the Patagonian ridge or running the Himalayas there are 14 events that you can recreate from the not so comfort of near your own home.

For example, for Celtman, one event is to swim 2km outdoors. Once you swim it, you upload your result with a link to Strava or Garmin and you get a race time and position. Other races are harder as the both the bike and runs involve a minimum distance and elevation. In order to complete the Stelvio climb you need to cycle 80km and climb over 1800m. But if you can’t make the elevation then you can also add distance to make up the climb. An extra 1.5k of cycling is an additional 100m of height.

It’s a great challenge and one that will become progressively harder as the distances and elevations increase. It’s hard, even on the shorter runs to find places that can equal the climbs I’m trying to emulate. There’s no equivalent of Everest in the south side of Glasgow. Unless by Everest you mean the double glazing firm.

The challenge lasts until the end of October and I’m aiming to tick off as many of the events as possible between now and then.

Toddman 2020 (Andrew)

52 weeks to Celtman.

Last Saturday should have been Celtman 2020 however, with social distancing still in effect and organised triathlons still banned by Triathlon Scotland, it was the right call two months ago to postpone it for a year. But that didn’t mean we couldn’t race…

In order to comply with both the letter and the spirit of the law we chose to race using Iain TwinBikeRun’s house as a transition. We could start at Carron Valley Reservoir, cycle around the Campsies to Iain’s house, then run back over the Campsies to get back to the start. The finish line would be the car park to Meikle Bin with a gate and a sign that said Todholes (for the nearby Todholes Farm).

In order to make it CoVid compliant I would travel to another household, Iain’s, and that would mean only Todd’s can take part. So, instead of Celtman we had TODDMAN!

Now, while it’s not really the time for winners and losers. Everyone is a winner no matter what they do during this endless lockdown. It’s also right to say that the history books did record an actual winner. Me.

It was close. If you’ve ever read or watched documentaries about the legendary Iron War between Dave Scott and Mark Allan as they battled to become the iron man world champion in 1989 then you will know what ToddMan was like, toe to toe except this was even closer. A race for the ages.

While Dave Scott and Mark Allan were never more than a couple of metres apart for hours of swimming, cycling and running. We were side by side (two metres apart) for the whole race except for final 20 meters when I saw the car park and sprinted to the finish line and Iain saw the car park and said “car park” and forgot to run. Winners act, losers state the bleedin’ obvious.

Now, while I know that there is some controversy to my finish as the winner had to touch a gate to finish, no one said which gate. And I touched ‘a gate’, if not ‘the gate’ Iain meant when he came up with the finish line. But, just as Iain said “car park” instead of running, he also said “gate” without naming which one to touch. The fool.

So, after the disappointment of Celtman not happening, I am at least proud to say that this year’s training did not go to waste because I am the inaugural winner of the first ever Toddman. Championnneeee!

Training For Celtman: May (Andrew)

With Celtman postponed until 2020 I didn’t give any thought this month to training for it in June next year. Instead here’s some socially distancing and post 28 May lockdown easing photos. Look at the happy non-training faces. There’s definitely something in not planning anything and just going out for fun…

54 weeks to go until Celtman.