ROC GUIDE By Conor Barrasford

How To Prepare for THE ROC


– How you prepare for this race is vital. It is vital because to get around this course you’ll be giving it your all. Whether you are at the front or the back, the effort is the same. The real winners are those who enjoy the day and to do that, you must be prepared for what lies ahead.

– Everyone talks about doing nothing new on race day and for your typical triathlon, that is easily managed. But, when doing a triathlon on steroids, it can be difficult. My advice would be to make the time to head to the hills and do some triathlon workouts. Running off the
bike is one thing, storming up a 30% scree slope is another. Not only will it give you piece of mind knowing you can do it, you’ll teach your body to fire up the necessary muscle groups to efficiently move up the mountain.

– The terrain is one novel feature of this race, but the format is different too. If there’s one thing that’s worse than running off the bike, it’s biking after barrel-rolling down a mountain. You’ll have been exerting for a good few hours by this point and your quads will be reduced to senseless concrete slabs. No matter how well you train, that final bike leg is going to hurt. Akin to the first point; training to bike-run-bike will ensure your body holds up better come race day.

– The distance of the run would suggest it’s a far smaller proportion of the race versus the bike. Do not be fooled. The distance means nothing. You will inch slowly up the mountain and so in terms of duration, the bike and run legs will not be too dissimilar. To that end, I recommend you train both the run and bike portions of the race in equal measure.

– The swim is relatively straightforward in this race. However, it’s still swimming in the sea off the Welsh coast. The conditions can change at an instant, there is a large temperature range throughout the year and not being aptly prepared for this part of the race could hinder your performance for the rest of the day. As a rule of thumb, I try to keep as warm as possible in UK triathlons as all too often you hear of people unable to put any power out on the bike because their core temperature slipped in the swim. Experiment wearing underlayers, neoprene skullcaps, vaseline your extremities – do whatever works for you, but remember it’s a long day ahead so you don’t want to ruin it at the first hurdle.

PREPARING FOR THE MOUNTAIN

Conors tips


– The mandatory kit list for ascending the mountain means you’ll need to take a rucksack of sort. We’re all shaped differently and to my knowledge, there is not one system that works for all. I use an Ultimate Direction race vest: I can store my cold weather gear and survival kit in the back, whilst having my nutrition and hydration on my front. I use soft flasks, but you could use a Camelbak just as easily in this race.

You’ll need to experiment to find out what works for you but the pivotal part here is that you need to test your equipment pre-race day. Check that you don’t suffer chafing, have your straps set to the right levels, become accustomed to running with the extra-weight and ensure you have enough space to carry every item on the mandatory kit list.

– I resemble that of a radiator, so I run in a t-shirt all year round. Still, I pack as though I’m going to be stranded in an arctic blizzard for 11 days. In most cases, you won’t touch half the items on the mandatory kit list. But, on the one freak occasion you need to, you’ll be forever thankful you packed sufficiently. Conditions on the mountain change at an instant and when covering arduous terrain, the scope for injury is amplified. Hope for the best, prepare for the worst.

 

CONOR BARRASFORD

CURRENT ROC CHAMPION & COURSE RECORD HOLDER


Conor is a 22-year-old triathlete who started the sport in 2017. Since 2017, Conor has trained alongside his degree at the University of Bath racing ultramarathons, Ironman and everything in between. Racing for team Zoot Athlos, Conor enjoyed a successful 2019 on the domestic 70.3 scene.

A self-coached athlete, Conor enjoyed experimenting with alternative training theories; writing a detailed blog series to recount his findings. Conor says he leaves the sport on a high, with his final race being his most enjoyable to date. “With a preference for racing in adverse conditions across difficult terrain, THE ROC was the perfect race to sign off from triathlon with”

Having always dabbled in performance sport, THE ROC marked Conor’s final triathlon as he takes an open-ended sabbatical to pursue new adventures in Dubai.

We hope he will return very soon, not just to THE ROC but to triathlon in general. A seriously talented and humble triathlete.