Family triathlon battle in latest Trusadh episode

Triathlon Innse Gall (Hebrides Triathlon), produced by MacTV for BBC ALBA’s award-winning factual series Trusadh, follows the journey of two Lewis men who throw themselves head, and feet first, into the sporting challenge of their lives.
Hector and Luke Mackay.Hector and Luke Mackay.
Hector and Luke Mackay.

Against the backdrop of the picturesque west coast of Lewis, taking in the white sandy beaches, iconic whale bone arch and Callanish Standing Stones, two members of the same family geared up to compete in the Hebrides Triathlon.

For Hector Mackay and his nephew Luke it was a first ever triathlon as they competed against one another, and 30 other competitors, for a sporting experience they will never forget.

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Both men were firmly out of their comfort zone with Hector unable to swim more than a few lengths in the pool as training began and Luke’s only method of fitness coming from the football pitch, where he played for West Side in the Lewis and Harris league.

“I knew how hard a triathlon would be,” reflected Luke in the documentary before adding, “but I never realised just how hard until the event itself.”

The Hebrides Triathlon begins with taking on two loops in the choppy Loch an Dúin in Bragar to make up a 1.5K swim before competitors jump onto their bikes for a leg sapping 40K cycle from the loch through Carloway to the Callanish Stones before looping back to Shawbost to dismount.

And then as if this wasn’t enough it is followed by a 10K run on jelly legs up and down the brutal climbs of the long established but difficult West Side 10K route around the village of Bragar to finish again at the Shawbost Community Centre to cross the finish line.

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“I wasn’t too keen to begin with. I’m past 50-years of age, I can’t swim well and I didn't know if I’d be able to do the triathlon,” says Hector in the programme.

“I could swim a few lengths but swimming close to a mile I thought would be too much for me.”

Triathlons are often a battle between the brain and the body and it has been claimed that often a competitor's brain will give in before the body will.

And it took our pair of West Side warriors a gruelling and frenetic amount of swimming, cycling and running to get to this point.

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Over three months MacTV followed both Hector and Luke through their training until race day, filming all the highs and lows of their journey, their training regime and apprehension to the Hebrides Triathlon and race day itself.

We will follow them training in all the triathlon disciplines and see how their family bond and friendly rivalry spurs one another on towards the start line for the Hebrides Triathlon event.

Several months of training, early morning open water swimming sessions and leg-sapping runs and cycles after work in the fading sun - but at the end of a glorious day of the ever-popular Hebrides Triathlon - would they both manage to finish and be considered triathletes?

Trusadh: Triathlon Innse Gall will air on BBC Alba on Monday, December 19, at 9pm and will be available on the BBC iPlayer for 30 days afterwards.