ROC GUIDE by Paul Hawkins

Ironman Champion and Endurance Triathlon Coach


As an endurance athlete you will discover what you’re truly capable of as take on THE ROC and switch between each discipline in a unique format to complete the 115km challenge. Ex Royal Marine commando PAUL HAWKINS knows all about endurance triathlons, a professional Ironman athlete, winner of the Outlaw Triathlon among many other titles, Paul took on THE ROC last year and has kindly put a pre-race prep talk together to help with your final preparations.

I have competed and successfully won both the sprint and standard distances at abersoch, but this race is a little different. First of all it is swim-bike-run-bike-run. Secondly the run is up the highest mountain in Wales, on the toughest route!

The swim- is fairly straight forward enough. However it is a sea swim and nature dictates, so prepare yourself for all sea conditions. As an early season race it may very well be chilly, so a neoprene swim hat underneath your race cap, or a second swim hat for that added insulation will suite you well.

The bike is beautiful, as it makes its way down the coast, through Beddgelert and up to the foothills of the start of the Watkins’s path. There is nothing major in terms of hills, but I would hold back a little to prepare yourself for what is to come on the run. TT bike is definitely recommended, also two water bottles for hydration. I use Clif shot blocs as fuel and take one packet before the start of the run.

RESPECT THE MOUNTAIN

And your race fueling!


The run! There is no doubt you will not run all of the run. It is hard, steep and rocky. Preparation is key and ensuring you have the right kit with you is very important.

I served as a Royal Marines commando and very accustomed to mountain and arctic warfare, and have full respect to Mother Nature and what it’s capable of. It may be all sunny and calm at the base, but the top will often be another story and may catch you out. Especially in May, and can change on a penny. Carry extra layers, fluids and fuel, and some solid footwear that you are confident to descend with. I used inov8 talons which provide good solid grip and confidence.

The climb is very steep in places. Take your time and break it down into small chunks, and keep the fuel going on board. The views (hopefully) at the top are amazing, the 2018 race was cracking the flags and scorching, so get some good photos at the top as you will need your phone with you anyway as part of the kit list.

The descent is just as tricky, and very rocky on places. Try to relax on the way down.

The cycle back is where you can really push on hard and empty the tank. Before you start ensure you have a fresh drink bottle or two. Riding after a run like that will feel strange on the body, so build into it and again keep the fluids and fuel going in. Again I use Clif shot blocs, working off one packet per hour, topped up with electrolyte drinks.

The final run on the beach is the last bit of suffering, but the atmosphere on the beach will bring you over the line and bragging rights for a long time.

This is a tough challenge, and not to be under estimated – but easily one of my favourite events I have done in my triathlon career and will be back for sure.

PAUL HAWKINS

Pro Triathlete and Coach


Paul Hawkins along with his enthusiastic and dedicated team, runs Peaks-Performance, a multi-sports coaching service based in the north west.

Paul has won many titles including Outlaw, British and European age group sprint champion titles and made the podium at Ironman UK.