Anglesey holds so many memories for me kayaking, coasteering, climbing, swimming, surfing, I always thought it was perfect for swimrun. It didn't disappoint. It's coastline, particularly around the west side of Holy Island, is outstanding.
So racing once again in the mixed category, something I've not done since Engadin 2015, and this time racing with my sister Helen. She's no stranger to suffering after growing up with two older brothers, Helen actually won the first ever BRECA Buttermere in 2015 (mixed category racing with her now husband), that said they were the only mixed team racing on that day.
The gale force winds meant that the super-exposed swims between Penrhyn Mawr and Porth Dafach were out. Not to worry, the wind was strong enough to make most of the other swims suitably dynamic and engaging.
During race briefing Johnny told us of the changes to the route, which we had expected. It was beginning to sound complicated but fundamentally to qualify for "full course completion" you had to repeat swim 2 and swim 3. Initially I thought this would be annoying, and difficult for the marshals, but it worked out great and I would have happily done several more loops! Excellent race management in difficult conditions came into play here from all of the loveswimrun team. So after the first run of 8.4km we were leading the mixed category pack. I could feel Helen was a bit apprehensive at this first swim, it looked rough, wild and confused. So much so that she managed to but her left hand paddle on her right hand and vice versa. I didn't give her time to swap as it was only a short swim.
The swim was fantastic, I can't describe how much I love being in this kind of dynamic water. As it happens Helen enjoyed it too.
We cracked on along the fun coastal path until the 2nd swim. This looked more daunting but again it wasn't long, although it did feel longer than 500m. In the middle of the bay a wave caught me on my starboard side mid-stroke, it nearly spun me round along my own axis.
Onwards with a short run to my favourite swim of the day at Porth Diana. At the end of this swim you had the option of the "short course" and carrying on, or the "long course" by running back to the start of swim 2 and repeating. This worked out great, and in all seriousness I did actually want to do another loop! However we didn't want to blow our podium chances so we cracked on to the 6th run.
This 5.2km run was the most challenging of the day with some ascent and technical terrain, often directly into a 25mph wind.
The final swim came at the beautiful bay of Borth Wen. It went quickly and before we knew it we were finishing the final run, back for tea and medals. We ended up finishing 1st in the mixed category. Another great memory made on Anglesey.
A fantastic debut race on my favourite Welsh island, well done to Chloe & Johnny and all the loveswimrun team for organising it so well.
With the route changes the total running was 18.7km and total swimming 2.3km - the scope for epic longer routes is there... just saying!