Post Season Reflections– Most Excited Races for 2020 Part II The Brutal Quintuple in Wales

December 10, 2019

Following up to the previous blog last week, regarding the best race experience reflection you had in 2019, now consider a pivot to what’s on your schedule for 2020.  Which event stands out from the all the others.  It may be the A race or a secondary event, but what uniqueness or experience are you looking forward to above all the events or adventures.

With more and more new events every year, I personally like to have two events that are the focus of the year – typically May/June and Sept./Oct.    As you plan your schedule, consider the time requirements to adequately recover from your events.   Without a solid recovery, the chances of injury become a significant factor and it happens whatever your age.     How many times have you chatted with an athlete and they have 15-20 races packed on their schedule and they ask you why they can’t attain a top performance.   Over racing and lack of recovery leads to a higher risk of injury as well as the possibility of a bunch average performances versus 1 or 2 targeted events.

Have you ever considered writing down which of your top 1 or 2 events gets you most excited for 2020?   Also, ask yourself the question, why?    For most of us, we don’t race in endurance events for a living and we do it for fun and pushing boundaries.  Writing down your Why will help center your mind on your key event for the year, especially with respect to your targeted training plan.  


Like many of you, 2020 has a few events on the schedule and one that gives me a buzz and excitement (similar to Trans South Dakota) is the Brutal Quintuple event next September in Wales, UK.  The Brutal Races are widely known in the Extreme triathlon world and have consistently ranked year after year as one the top 10 toughest triathlons in the world (Red Bull, 220 Triathlon Magazine).  Google the toughest triathlons in the world and it's a guarantee that The Brutal will be on the list.

“Described as a life experience more than a race, you can expect to visit places you’ve never been before, in every sense.  This is the “World’s Toughest Triathlon” (as voted for by 220 Triathlon) but it is renowned for its low-key and friendly vide.  The challenging terrain and breathtaking scenery creates an awesome experience that will stay with you long after the aches and blisters have gone!  The pinnacle of the event must be the run, which takes you on an undulating trail around the lake before you summit Snowdon, Wales’ biggest mountain. “  Google Search

Interestingly, only one American has ever finished the Brutal according to the athlete/race director Claire Smith.    That is quite surprising, so time to make it number 2 with an over the top NEW EVENT.    Keeping in mind that the event has a single, double and triple Iron distances, in 2020 Claire and her team have moved it to another level of toughness factor with the introduction of a Quintuple (12 mile swim, 560 mile bike, 131 mile run).  

To provide some perspective of this course, (compared to the typical ultra triathlon) this one adds in the factors of cold-water swim, significant climbing on the bike, mountain climb on the run and a combination of single track and roads.    This clearly is not the typical flat ultra triathlon.      Having done the Quintuple years ago, it’s not at all comparable to what the challenges will be in The Brutal (the last Quintuple was in the temperate climates of Mexico with flat loops).    

I ask the question Why Not versus just Why - in terms of really targeting a tough event with a tight cutoff time limit and extreme conditions up to 140 hours.    

Top 12 personal perspectives – Brutal Quintuple

  1. Find an event that takes you into a completely new space in your racing. This is a first of this kind of Extreme triathlon personally.
  2. The unknown of swimming in 55 -60-degree water for 12 miles – Never have swam this long in chilly water.
  3. Over 50K feet of climbing on the bike over the 560 miles – Not Flat is an understatement – Never done that before in an Ultra triathlon.
  4. The Weather – Extreme nature and un-predictability of change constantly with wind, rain, fog, etc.
  5. The People - having only raced once in the UK in the north many years ago – the Brit bantering is priceless.    Of course as an American, just love racing with friends from the UK and I am sure there will be a discussion around American football and how we call it football and can use our hands!
  6. Never been to this location in UK – Wales
  7. Enjoying the best Krisps around according to Race Director and great friend – Claire Smith IMG_4832
  8. Climbing the mountain and mixing something different than the typical 1 mile out and back loop for an ultra triathlon (greater than a double Iron)
  9. Hopefully the experience results in future Americans joining the fold in Wales in the future.
  10. Love first time events – the unknown and plenty of improvising.
  11. The scared component of finishing is always an attraction and this one clearly will be one with significant anxiety.
  12. The drone video is an easy sales pitch - Check out this video and you will get hooked! 

 Wishing you all the very best 2020 race season and hoping you find that race that will test your mental and physical limits to create lasting memories. The 140 hour cutoff of The Brutal Quint will clearly offer that experience. Check out the website at   Come along and join in the excitement of this first ever OVER the top race next September.

Remember, just ask yourself the word WHY and see what happens.

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Tags: training, ultradistance, race planning tips

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