Up at dawn's crack, we loaded up the van with Adam's bikes plus all the necessary gear for the day ahead. We got on the road at just gone 6, heading towards the legendary Lake Bala. Over the years I've had many friends tell me about how beautiful the lake is and that it's an essential place to visit. En-route, I checked my camera bag to make sure I had charged batteries for my camera hoping to get some great shots of the lake on arrival. Singing along to 80's hits on the radio, we made our way through the long winding roads of beautiful North Wales. The sun was starting to come up and there was a stunning, misty haze in the sky. The journey to the lake took us around 45 minutes, by which time it was light. As we came down the small road into the the parking area all we could see was thick mist.
The mist was so thick that you couldn't see further than 5 metres in front of you. We spoke with the event organisers who informed all the athletes and support crews that due to the conditions the race would be postponed for an hour, in the hope that the mist would settle.
The mist didn't seem to be shifting anytime soon so I got the camera out and took a few Littlewood's catalogue shots with Matt who decided it would be a great idea to go for a swim in the freezing, misty Lake Bala. Not one to be left out by his Dad, Lemmy was straight in there after him. They were in there a good 15 mins chanelling the 'Whim Hoff method' while slowly but surely the mist was starting to clear. Shortly after, the event organisers called a meeting to discuss the situation.
By 9am, it was agreed that the mist had cleared enough for the athletes to start the swim. The visibility was still quite poor at this point but after a meeting with all the athletes and crews it was decided that it was safe enough and that they wouldn't end up somewhere off the coast of Ireland. Trig began his warm ups and we were all getting excited for the race to begin. The swim being Trig's strongest discipline, he was raring to go and just wanted to get in there and get the job done.
With all the athlete's in the water, the spirits were high and UMUK 2018 was underway. In no time at all, the lake went from a grey, misty abyss to quite easily one of the most beautiful views I've ever seen during my life so far. The change was nothing short of miraculous. The mist had cleared, the sun was out and it was game ON!
Right from the start, Adam was dominating the swim. Way ahead of any of the other athletes, gliding through the water like a silky, smooth dolphin. I stood standing on the pontoon with my camera trying to get some shots of Trig and got chatting with the official event photographer's Pete and Dave Ford. Pete and Dave are I'd guess in their 60's now but they still hold the world record for fastest ascent and descent of Mount Snowdon.
We'd had a chat with them the night before at the hotel and they were top geezers. We all said the same thing after speaking to them. Sometimes you meet people and you just like them straight away. Pete and Dave fell into that category. Just two straight up genuine, lovely blokes and we hit it off immediately. The brothers invited me to go out onto the lake with them to take some photos. I didn't need to be asked twice, like an eager pirate I was ready to set sail!
Being out on the boat was just one of those experiences I won't forget in a hurry. All those stories people had told me about how beautiful Lake Bala had come true, and I had a full panoramic view of the beautiful lake and landscapes in the background. Pete and Dave were giving me advice about photography and telling me some great stories of when they were younger. You could see that see how close they were and that made it even more special to be out there with them to be honest. After spending around an hour out on the lake we headed back to shore.
Back on the shore, the vibes were strong. It wouldn't be long before Trig finished the swim. Still way ahead in first place, our team started to prepare some food, a change of clothes and a hot drink ready for Trig's exit from the water. In almost the blink of an eye the conditions had changed again with a strong wind picking up making the last few laps of the course very tricky. Trig got to shore in a great time of 3 hrs 36 mins and in first place. He didnt waste much time in having a quick snack, drink, change into his cycling gear and out on the bike for the first stage of the cycle, a swift 90 miles.