Fiona Mauer – does she ever stop smiling? – took on the tough Ben Nevis Braveheart Triathlon earlier this month and not only took a first vet medal but also came fourth female overall.
The weather made the day very tricky and organisers reduced the swim distance to 800m for safety. The run was cut by 15km, too, and this meant that competitors did to get to the summit of the UK’s highest mountain. They reached 786m elevation of the 1345m tall Ben Nevis.
In between was the bike section that Fiona described as “brutal with winds of up to 75mph”.
In addition, Fiona had mistakenly placed two left running shoes in T2.
Racing for charity
Fiona, who has two children, was raising money for the charity, Buttercups House.
Fiona said: “I entered the race for Buttercups House, a small facility that offers respite care. It has been supporting us through Emily’s chemotherapy while also looking after our severely disabled son, Ethan.
“Everyone had been so generous so that helped calm my nerves in he run up to the race. Also, it was great to see GTC member Mark Cohen at the event too. It helps to be meet with others to calm pre-race nerves. He was camping all weekend in the crazy weather!”
Calm before the storms
The day before the race was beautiful sunshine. Fiona says: “I planned to recce the race the day before and the views of Ben Nevis made me feel quite emotional.
“I was very excited and training for the event had gone okay, all things considering with my family life.”
However, organisers decided to shorten the course when the forecast was for strong winds.
A tough triathlon
Fiona reports that she enjoyed a strong swim in the swelling sea loch. She says: “My survival instincts kicked in and I kept my strokes fast and kicked hard against the tide and waves.
“The bike had a tailwind out so it felt like I was coasting at 30km/h and then I turned. The headwind was tough but I maintained my pace and came into transition strong and in second place for the ladies.”
It was then that she realised she had two left shoes. She says: “I have several pairs of the same running shoes and stupidly I didn’t check before leaving the house. It’s a mistake I won’t make again.
“I ran for 3.5km with two left shoes until I managed to get to my sister who handed me an old pair of road shoes I use for work.
“I can confirm that running in shoes on the wrong feet hurts and you loose toe nails.
“Then, ascending the steep path up Ben Nevis, I realised it’s a runners’ triathlon. The weather was brutal and the path was surprisingly busy with people on the first half.
“Visibility was poor and when I found the marshals at the turning point I was delighted to be running downhill.”
Fiona was very happy with her result. She says: “It’s an exciting and well-organised challenge race that I would recommend. I was delighted to come fourth overall lady and first in my age category v40.”
Fiona adds: “My sister has supported me at Celtman! and Braveheart and has been inspired to enter a novice race next year herself. That has made me year.”