Meet Beth Jones. In 2015, she finished the Double Brutal twice-iron-distance race in 46 hrs and 34 mins, becoming the second woman ever to complete the race.
At the age of 35, English teacher Beth, 37, discovered running. Just two years later, she joined the exclusive women’s Double Brutal club, completing the race in 2015, where she was the only solo woman in a field of 20. “I don’t really understand why there are so few women still,” Beth says.
The Double Brutal consists of a 4.8 Mile Swim, 232 Mile Bike and 51.1 Mile Run (including ascent of Snowdon).”When I first investigated triathlon, I was fascinated by ultra distance, of what could be achievable and possible,” Beth explains. “My first ever triathlon was the Brutal Half in 2014. I fell in love with the course and decided to aim for the Double – I didn’t know if or how I would ever get there.” Beth went from her first triathlon, a half iron distance, to the Wasdale X, which dubs itself ‘the world’s toughest iron distance’, in June 2015, before taking on the double iron distance in Snowdonia in September 2015.
“I decided to aim for the Double – but I didn’t know if or how I would ever get there.”
Beth took up triathlon after becoming injured and finding her way onto a bike. “My favourite discipline is running,” Beth says. “I’ve always just about tolerated cycling, but as my geometry/fit improves, so does my enthusiasm. I love swimming because I know how spectacularly bad I was at first, and how tough it’s been to get better!”
“I’d had a difficult time psyching myself out with training in the winter and spring – It was alarming how impossible I made things for myself!” Beth says. “I stopped being so rigid with myself about all the training I must do each week – from that point on things started to get better. I felt strangely calm in the week leading up to the race,” Beth says.Beth suffered injury in the weeks leading up to the big day, which prevented her being able to train properly.
“My body and brain were rebelling after a challenging summer of training and work – I just tried to accept it,” she says. “I didn’t actually enter until three weeks beforehand, and I entered knowing that I might make the decision to pull out on the run to prevent injury. I felt content because I knew deep down that if I didn’t complete the Brutal this time, I could try another time, and that was okay.”
“My swim was great, I was dumbfounded,” Beth says. “My best bit was noticing I wouldn’t be the last doubler out of the lake, because the other guy had veered off course too much! But the bike section on the other hand was awful. I felt every slow inching second of that 26.5 hours – it was the low point, and yet the stars, the emptiness and blackness were quite wonderful. It felt like such a privilege. I wouldn’t change any of that sheer misery on the bike for the world.”
“The run was good, but I started falling asleep while moving.”
Beth started falling asleep while moving on the double marathon run section. “Staying awake was the biggest challenge, I don’t know how I did it. On each lap I longed to get to the slippery rocky part just so I had something complex to do with my body and brain! With each microsleep I stiffened up more and more.” she says.
Beth had her boyfriend in tow as support crew. “You have to do the mountain section with support,” she says. “Mine was my hero of a boyfriend who I dragged up there, and who’d been driving throughout the previous night for the bike section.”
Beth finished her race in 46hrs 34 mins. “It took me 12 hours to stop mentally being in the race,” Beth says. “I kept waking up believing I had to start a new lap on the bike! The sense of achievement came, but it took a while,” she says.
“Never underestimate sheep at night.”
Beth recommends the race, and says she would like to do it again when she’s even fitter. “My favourite part was riding under the stars, and having two days to just ‘go’.” She says.
“If you’re considering a Brual event, absolutely go for it and set your sights on it, It’s such a treat to be in such a beautiful location, and the races are extremely well run. However, never underestimate sheep at night – I think they dare each other to jump in front of bikes on descents!”