I did my first triathlon season in 2018 and placed 2nd female in the Abersoch sprint triathlon. This race was held on the same day as the first Roc triathlon. My husband and I watched our friend Andrew Howarth win the race and I thought this looked like an amazing event; I wondered if I would be able to complete such a challenge?

To prepare for the 2019 triathlon season I went to Gran Canaria and Tenerife in January as a late honeymoon and cycling training camp. In addition, I raced most of the local triathlon events which included hilly fell runs after a hard bike leg.

I didn’t specifically train for a swim, bike, run followed by an additional bike and short run type format. However, I had raced two of the Always Aim High Savage races, which means that you race a sprint distance triathlon on the Saturday followed by the longer distance race the next day. Big weekends like this must have helped me to develop the stamina required for the Roc.


From Catherine's 2019 ROC experience

  1. Try to include some sea swimming and fell running into your training. The sea can be quite rough, and it is easy to feel intimidated and disorientated by the waves. I would also advise doing a recce of the Watkin path so that route finding isn’t a problem.
  2. Pacing and nutrition are very important during this race because everyone (other than two of the fastest men) were racing for over five hours.

I recommend that you find fuel that works for you. I prefer real food due to an allergy caused by various additives in gels. My favourite snacks include ripe bananas, dates and homemade oaty honey cookies. I tried using pretzels for salt and honey sandwiches for the run section but these proved difficult to ingest (like eating soggy cardboard!)  In general my real food strategy worked except that during the return bike leg I ran out of bananas. The oat cookies did not give me the quick release sugar that I badly needed and so once I reached Pwllheli I felt myself hitting the wall.

  1. My final Top Tip is: do NOT underestimate the fuel required during the return bike leg especially since you will most likely be riding into a headwind.



Catherine Connell was the female winner of THE ROC 2019 in a time of 5 hours 32 minutes and 13 seconds. She took up triathlon after meeting and then marrying local triathlete Arthur Connell in 2017. His infectious enthusiasm for the sport rubbed off and she needed little prompting to join him in training together for the local triathlons.

Living in North Wales has provided a fertile training ground with the mountains on the doorstep and a burgeoning group of likeminded individuals in Llanberis. Day to day she works as a part time gp in Bangor.

I enjoyed this race because it is an epic adventure: you feel like you’ve gone on a journey as you emerge from the sea and conquer the highest mountain in Wales, all by your own steam. Furthermore, the event was well organised, the atmosphere friendly and there was a huge camaraderie among the competitors which was all the more apparent due to the out and back nature of the race. I have made great friends and especially enjoyed racing with other strong female athletes.