by Kathy James

Helvellyn Triathlon

My last post was all about ‘Anglesey Marine Week 2012 Wythnos Morol Mon’. The week was all about enthusing people about our surrounding sea and through the varied and interesting range of events I am happy that we succeeded. Different local businesses and charities were involved, all benefiting from extra exposure and some from monetary donations. I can now add to that by letting you know how much money we raised for the Marine Conservation Society. Anglesey Wildlife Walks contributed 50% of the ticket price of the Heathland and Seals guided walk; Glyn Davies donated 20% of the ticket price of his talk “Welsh Light”; Carol Mead had a donations box in her studio (where she is a personal trainer) and also gave up her time for free with a seaside poetry workshop where she collected £4 per child towards the cause; Laura (who runs Ann’s Pantry in Moelfre) very kindly baked some delicious madeleines and donated 20% of the price of those sold. In total these guys raised a brilliant £99 which is now winging it’s way over to the Marine Conservation Society. I was also able to add gift aid to that donation, increasing the money to £123.75. Good old gift aid!

Everyone that attended an event should have had the opportunity to enter a prize draw to win ‘A Field Guide to the Marine Fishes of Wales and Adjacent Waters’ donated by the Marine Conservation Society to celebrate the eight days of  ‘Anglesey Marine Week 2012 Wythnos Morol Mon’. Using the time honoured method of closing your eyes and delving around with your hand, the name we conjured up at random is Steve Lawson who joined us on Outdoor Active‘s exhilarating coasteering session. I hope Steve and his family enjoy this beautiful book.

Since ‘Anglesey Marine Week 2012 Wythnos Morol Mon’ I have been lucky enough to take a trip to the beautiful Lake District and, rather fortunately, during perhaps the best weather of the year so far! Get in! I had gone along to Ambleside as a spectator to the Helvellyn Triathlon where around 700 crazy people decided to swim 1 mile though the seemingly black Ullswater, cycle 38 miles on the road (including up the aptly named ‘struggle’) and run 9 miles over the 3118 feet of Helvellyn. In my book, anyone that completes that deserves an Olympic medal.

At these events being a birder really comes into it’s own; everyone struggles to make out their loved ones in the sea of lycra and rubber and I stand there smugly with my all-seeing bino-vision. Having watched the swim and the seething mass of shiny wetsuits and blue caps in the first wave I headed off up Helvellyn; the place of legends.

I don’t know why I hadn’t gone with her; but one weekend perhaps sixteen years ago my Mum went on a Helvellyn adventure. Teamed up with a climbing instructor and a bunch of kids she set out to the summit of Helvellyn via Striding Edge; the name alone conjures fearful images in my mind. On many occasions my Mum has recounted the tale of how the children skipped along the rocky ridge whilst she clung to the ground sobbing with a steep drop to her right and and certain death to her left.

The mist was rolling in over the top of Helvellyn as I approached and this gave me reason to think about approach from a different angle, missing out the infamous Striding Edge. Down where I was at that moment, the sun was baking me and I stopped to drink and asked a couple that I’d caught up with if they’d like a photo together (I figure if I do this enough times people will also randomly ask me and my friends and family on other occasions where a group photo is absolutely neccessary!). The couple turned out to be Jill and Ken who’s son Chris was competing in the triathlon. We kept the same pace and I hope they don’t mind that we chatted all the way up to the point where the paths diverged and it was either straight up the mountain or via Striding Edge (dum, dum, duuummmm!).

Retelling my Mum’s story to the pair fired Kens memories of a long forgotten trip over striding edge and from then on he was set on joining me on that rather unwelcoming, misty knife-edge.

I did my best crab impression on the very top of the ridge at times, but to be quite honest the mist had cleared and I could do nothing but admire the stunning view and think of my lovely Mum with her ‘being-at-height issues’ and enjoy the moment for her. Jill bounded on ahead despite saying she wouldn’t look down.

The worst bit for me was a scramble up some crumbling scree before we reached the safety of the summit. I like a rock you can trust.

Here is Ken and Jill at the summit:

I had a brief moment of false-joy when I was privileged to be in the lead of all the runners as two headed up the second rise of their run (White Side). These first two powered past me with unbelievable speed and were fifteen minutes ahead of their nearest competitors.

My seemingy slow descent allowed be to say “Well done” to the first 138 runners before I reached the bottom, equally sweaty and exhausted as the triatheletes embarrassingly. Ken and Jill’s son Chris came a very respectable 28th. I think everyone that took part was completely amazing though. To add insult to injury whilst those triatheletes were probably skipping over a mountain or two I was greeted my two red and swollen knees the following day. Oh dear.

Knees now fully recovered, I am back in North Wales and inviting you to join in with a beach clean I am organising at Porth Dafarch on Holy Island (Anglesey) on Monday 17th September. It will start at 3:30pm and is part of the Marine Conservation Society’s ‘Big Beachwatch Weekend’. I adopted this beach last year and had a great team of helpers turn up. Would you like to help this time? For more info please email: Kathy@naturebites.co.uk Hope you can make it!

Kathy x

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