Bloody feet, muscle cramps and sheer exhaustion made for a gruelling triathlon race on the opening day of Jersey 2015.
For Andrew Aitken it was a tough time at the island games two years ago, though his sister Sanna bagged a team bronze in the event after fighting choppy waters and strong headwinds.
The sport has been growing in popularity in the isles with 10 athletes in the Channel Islands competition and seven in Gotland this time around.
Williamson brothers Davie and Richard will be pulling on the wetsuits at the weekend, along with Aitken’s partner Shelley Humphray, who is a newcomer after saddling up and turning to pedal power around the hills and voes near Lerwick.
Since Jersey the triathletes have been testing their metal in competitions outwith the isles, with Lynsey Henderson and Davie Williamson cycling through lava fields in Hawaii for the Ironman world championships.
Wendy Hatrick and Laurence Little will also be taking the plunge on day one.
“We’ll play it by ear and see what the forecast is on the day,” said Aitken, taking a break from the bike at Dales Voe.
“Jersey was pretty hot and sticky on the day that we had the triathlon. I don’t want to blame that for having a bad race, but I didn’t have the best two hours of my life in Jersey. The swim was pretty breezy, the bike was hot and the run was quite hot as well.
“In Gotland we’ll have to see what happens, it’s going to be a pan-flat course up and down the course so, the cross winds might have an effect if it’s breezy. It’ll have an effect on the race, but to be honest that will probably play into Shetlander’s hands.
“We’re out training most of the year in pretty harsh conditions so, I suppose the worst, the better in a way.”
Aitken has a number of island games under his belt and said it was a brilliant opportunity for Shetlanders to compete on a larger stage.
“It really is an excellent event. I love going to the island games and competing in it, not just for the sport but all the stuff that goes on, meeting new folk and all the camaraderie and a couple of beers at the end of it. It’s all good fun.”
Humphray said she had been trying to notch up about 10 hours a week in training ahead of the games.
“It’s going good,” she said.
“We’ve been away for a couple of races as well off the island. [We] went to Turiff for a race and Loch Lomond and it’s gone pretty good.”
She said she was a bit nervous ahead of the games, though was keen to get going.
“Running is probably my favourite. I’ve done that for the longest and I just got into triathlon after Andrew was taking me cycling, so running is definitely my best discipline, swimming is definitely my worst,” she laughed.
“I do enjoy cycling, I’ve enjoyed getting a bike and getting out there.”