If the very thought of taking part in a real triathlon leaves you breathless but you’d like to take part in a fun (and less strenuous) alternative, you could always get together with some friends and create your own. Here’s how to do just that, in Snowdonia.
Competing in a triathlon is not for the faint of heart. Take the Slateman Triathlon for example; this running, swimming and cycling event offers competitors the chance to swim as much as 1400 metres, cycle as much as 71km, and run up to 17km – just imagine the training required to complete such a gruelling event!
Thankfully, there are gentler options for those of us who feel a full triathlon is beyond our abilities or fitness levels, but who would nevertheless like to keep active and enjoy the great outdoors in Snowdonia.
Ladies and gentlemen, we present to you… the Snowdonia Pick ‘n’ Mix DIY Triathlon!
There are no hard and fast rules, no set distances, no other competitors (unless you plan to create a competitive event for a group or club), and the locations we’ve chosen are suitable for pretty much anyone, including children.
Since it’s a ‘triathlon’ we’ve offered three options each for the running, swimming and cycling parts of your ‘event’ – simply pick ‘n’ mix to build a ‘triathlon’ that’s just right for you!
We use the word ‘running’ very loosely here, because these options are actually walking routes that can be run as well as walked – so they’re perfect for those of us that aren’t as fit as we’d like to be.
As an added bonus, these routes – all classified as ‘Gwynedd Recreational Routes‘ – are both walking and cycling routes, so if you don’t fancy any of the cycling options we’ve suggested you can use one of the running routes instead. You can of course choose how much of each route to follow; whether you want to follow the full routes or just parts of them, it’s all good!
Lôn Las Peris
Lôn Las Peris takes you on an easy wander along the shores of Llyn Padarn in Llanberis. After a while you’ll reach the public road network and from here you can continue – on foot or on a bike – through Cwm y Glo and Llanrug, before following the lovely river valley of the Seiont towards Caernarfon.
Since you’re now in Caernarfon, why not connect to Lôn Eifion for the next part of your DIY triathlon? This route is tarmacked in its entirety, making it excellent if anyone in your party is in a pram or wheelchair. This is one of the best-known (and most-used) cycle and walking routes on the network, and when you see the stunning views you’ll understand why! The route ends at Bryncir.
Unlike Lôn Eifion the surface of the Mawddach Trail isn’t tarmacked – it’s surfaced with compacted dust. The trail follows the Mawddach Estuary from Barmouth to Dolgellau, and the part between Penmaenpool and Dolgellau has been further developed to cater for disabled users. The scenery along this trail is outstanding, so expect to take a few breaks where you’ll just stand and look around you in awe!
For the cycling part of your DIY triathlon you’re invited to ‘up your game’ if you want to, by choosing a more challenging cycling trail where one is available. So if you want to swap gentle cycle trails for a more daring MTB trail, there will be the opportunity to do so.
For the really adventurous, Antur Stiniog offers fantastic downhill mountain biking days at Blaenau Ffestiniog. The uplift service means you get to do what you came to do – ride, not push! – and there are several downhill trails to choose from, which will see you hurtling down a mountainside on two wheels having the time of your life!
Coed y Brenin
At Coed y Brenin, just outside Dolgellau, the pace can be as easy or as tough as you like. There are trails for just about every ability level, from family trails to red and black grade trails. Coed y Brenin has the distinction of being the first purpose-built mountain biking centre in Britain, so you can be sure you’ll have everything you need here, from children’s play areas to showers and bike washes. You can even hire a bike on-site if you don’t have one of your own.
Bala Cycle Routes
We’re making it really easy for you now – there are six routes included in the Bala Cycle Routes, so take your pick! Ranging from easy to difficult, these routes take you on a fantastic tour of the Bala area and include upward rides through the Berwyn mountain range as well as gentle plods around Llyn Tegid, the stunning lake for which Bala is most famous.
After all that cycling and running (or walking, as the case may be) what better way to cool down than a nice swim? Sure, if you were competing in a real triathlon you’d be putting yourself through your paces; but this is a DIY triathlon, so you make your own rules and that means if you want a leisurely splash about rather than swimming as if you had a shark hot on your heels, you can do so!
Snowdonia has a 200-mile coastline, so there are plenty of great beaches to swim at once the sea has warmed up a bit, although we appreciate some people aren’t at all put off by the water being cold!
For the really adventurous, wild swimming is also becoming more and more popular in Snowdonia. There are so many lakes in Snowdonia, you’ll be spoilt for choice – but obviously you do have to be very safety conscious. Among the wild swimming venues in Snowdonia reviewed by wildswimming.co.uk are Llyn Padarn, Llyn Dinas and the Watkins Path Waterfall.
If just the thought of cold lakes and seawater is enough to make you shudder, there are plenty of public heated swimming pools to enjoy in Snowdonia’s leisure centres – and these of course are safe for children as well as adults, so there’s an added bonus right there if your ‘triathlon’ involves the whole family.