Thanks to race organisers, Paul McGreal and Stuart McInnes, I had the opportunity to take photographs at the excellent Celtman Extreme Scottish Triathlon. I could have covered more of the event but I find it difficult to document triathlons on your own with the type of photography I want to do. There's obviously the three disciplines - swimming, cycling and running - and you need a good selection of images from each to demonstrate the nature of the event. When there's just one of you, it's difficult to be everywhere and, with the Celtman in particular, the distances involved (a 3.8km tidal swim, a 202km road cycle and a 42km marathon-length run over the two Munros that make up Beinn Eighe) plus the remoteness, warrant, I think, a small photography team who could move with the racers through the start/swim/exit/cycle/run stages to capture the whole event and really do it justice (a'la the Adventure Show, who had six staff in place at the Celtman this year making a TV programme). I appreciate I may be wrong though as other photographers captured the three disciplines - you can see their photos on the Celtman Facebook page.
The person (superman?) who won the 2013 Celtman Extreme Scottish Triathlon was Dundonian Graeme Stewart, completing the race in 12h:16m:15s ahead of a very international field (I spoke to German, Swedish, Dutch, French, Greek and Norwegian competitors, and more). The first female home was Kathrin Müller in 13h:05m:01s. All the racers battled difficult weather (a mixture of strong winds, constant driving rain in the afternoon and possibly c.50-60mph gusts up top) and it was these conditions that saw only 11 racers (22 including their mandatory support racer) making it onto Beinn Eighe before the race organisers, in conjunction with Torridon MRT, took a safety decision and diverted the remaining racers onto a previously planned lower-level route that took them round the back of Beinn Alligin. Regardless which route folk took to the finish, to complete the Celtman Extreme Triathlon has to be a huge achievement and my congratulations and admiration go out to all the racers and everyone else involved (e.g. the supporters, MRT and the organisers).
From a photography point of view, I found it difficult to match the level of achievement, mainly for the reasons mentioned above but also because of the wet weather (I'm constantly amazed at how much rain water my camera will put up with). The morning wasn't so bad but the afternoon was appalling - not so much raining as being stuck inside a soaking wet cloud. The pre-race visions I had of capturing racers running along Beinn Eighe's ridge, leaving the summit of Ruadh-stac Mor and heading down the screen gully into Coire Mhic Fhearchair soon disappeared when the clag came down and I took the decision to base myself inside the gully instead, hoping at least to shoot some running photos as folk came down the screes and out into the corrie. Unfortunately, the rain was incessant and all I ended up with was a constantly wet lens and pictures so blurry I normally wouldn't even show them to friends (picture the view you get when you look out through a wet window). Still, I've included some of them here as they show what it was like on the day and it was nice to be there to document that part of the race. I'd like if I could go back next year and have another shot!
Update: View my Celtman photo essay.