Category Archives: Iain

Film Friday – The Real Mo Farah (Iain)

Film Friday is a weekly recommendation of one video to watch this weekend.

A fascinating insight into Mo Farah. Someone I previously wasn’t too bothered about due to all the rumors about his performances. But this does a great job in showing his origin story that by the end of the show I had gained a lot of respect for him.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/m001977f/the-real-mo-farah

Watch to find out…

Outdoor Swim Review: Loch Maree – June 2022 (Iain)

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Loch Mareee is famous for its islands. It has more than forty and they contain the nearest thing to natural woodland left in Britain – fragments of the original Caledonian Pine Forest.

Because of the islands its a popular spot for kayak-ers and canoeists. I was staying nearby in Kinlochwee and I fancied a swim before my breakfast so I thought I would give the Loch a try.

I found this game in the hotel. think it is true for all wild swimmers.

REVIEW

Ease of Access: I parked at the Bein Eighe car park beside the Loch. There are toilets and you can get down to the shore easily.

Water quality: Cold! Even in June it was only 13.8C. It was a tricky Loch to get into from the shore as its very shallow and rocky. The rocks were very slippy. Its OK if you have swim shoes/socks on or if you just drop to your back and float out to where its deeper.

Swim Quality: Excellent – there’s beautiful mountain views all around.

Other People: The car park can be busy. I went early in the morning but there was a number of camper vans parked there.

Would I go back: Yes. Its such a beautiful spot to swim in.

You can see Loch Maree in this video

Outdoor Swim Review: Carron Valley Revisted – July 2022 (Iain)

Previous reviews here and here

It doesn’t feel like summer has really got started properly. May and June have been a lot less sunnier than recent years. What happened to Global Warming? The weather has been poor every since the climate convention in Glasgow. I blame Greta Thunberg 🙂

Thankfully the water has been warming up and it is now nice enough to swim without a wetsuit. The water isn’t peaty like last year which meant I didn’t come out looking like the creature from the black lagoon.

Check out the video to see what a swim in Carron Valley Reservoir is like.

Ease of Access: https://goo.gl/maps/vkcjfRm5cx6dYWt7A Park at the gate next to the loch. Its 10m to the waterside. 

Water quality: Warm and shallow at the edge of the loch but it can noticeably drop in temperature the further out you get. 

Swim Quality: Excellent. Lots of things to sight against. Water is choppy but that makes it more fun!

Other People: A couple of folk out walking and the odd car/cyclist going by. 

Would I go back: Yes. It’s my default swim location. 

Outdoor Swim Review – Loch Ard Alternative Location (Andrew)

We’ve looked at the western side of Loch Ard before. You can find swim reviews for taking entry both inside and outside Kinlochard village. This time I had a day off work and tried the eastern side, closest to Aberfolye.

REVIEW

Ease of Access:

Rating: 2 out of 5.

There’s only space for three cars at this spot – or two motorhomes! I was here during the week but at weekends, you’ll probably have better odds playing the lottery than finding a space. But, if you do…

Water quality:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Fantastic. You’re in a sheltered area so there’s less chance of waves and you may even find it calm even with a slight breeze.

Swim Quality:

Rating: 3 out of 5.

There’s a small ‘beach’ and the shallows stretch a good 20 metres out from shower. Most of the shallows is compacted sand and earth so very easy to walk on and get access to the water. If you look at the map above I’ve marked a circular route of just over 1km. At point 4 there is a prominent boat house to make sighting very easy as you return across the loch.

Other People:

Rating: 1 out of 5.

It can be very busy.

Would I go back: 

It is good for beginners, if you don’t fancy venturing out to deeper waters. And it is a great starting point for people who want to try outdoor swimming. However, there’s not a lot of parking so aim for an early visit or midweek if you want to guarantee the best chance of getting a spot. Of course, you can carry on to the western side of the loch if you don’t find a spot here.

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 https://www.booking.com/hotel/gb/the-wee-coolins-strathcarron.html

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…