Where: Holme Pierrepont, Notts
We named this regular 220 Award-winner the most beginner friendly ironman-distance triathlon in Europe, despite the often not so friendly weather. Here’s 2015 finisher Jason Scott with some essential advice for your Nottinghamshire crusade…
I chose The Outlaw because I’d heard good things and it’s known for being considerably flatter than Ironman UK. I’d say if you’re not signed up for an M-Dot event then this is the next (or arguably should be first) on your list of must-do long-distance races.
Myself and a friend camped on site, only 200m from transition. They also offer luxury wooden pods to stay in, which I’d recommend for extra comfort. Registration is a breeze the day before, and set-up is quick and no hassle.
The Outlaw swim is a proper Iron start. None of this small pens of starters at a time; it’s a mass underwater wrestle! If you’ve positioned yourself correctly according to your predicted time, though, you should be fine; it soon thins out. It’s one large lap, which is right to the end of the rowing lake and back again.
If it’s a sunny early morning, sighting on the swim can be quite difficult as the sun is low.Unless you’re flying at the front, just do as I did and follow the few hundred people in front of you! The transition area is great, slick and easy to get through, and there are lots of great viewing spots around the lake for family and friends to cheer you on.
The bike course is a flat-ish 180km. It’s more rolling tarmac than anything else and a good average speed can be met quite easily. You get some nice views of the Nottinghamshire countryside, and the course is three laps (laps one and three are the same), making it easy to mentally divide up.
The feed stations are long, which make it easier to grab nutrition en route, and the support is excellent, even though the weather in 2015 was absolutely terrible!
The run is a flat and well-supported route, which starts off with a lap of the lake and then continues along the River Trent. This is done twice before a final loop of the lake to finish off.
Walking through the aid stations helped me immensely, and my general Iron race tip would be to never stop completely and keep walking through.
There are plenty of feed points en route so plenty of chances to recharge your batteries. The great marshals are particularly appreciated towards the end of the run course when, although you’ve had a long day, theirs has probably been even longer!
Where: Llanberis, Gwynedd, Wales
With its huge amount of climbing and 16:50hr median finish time, we named The Brutal the 2nd toughest Ironman-distance triathlon in the world. But fear ye not Brutal entrants, here are the winning tips for Snowdonia success from 2015 winner David Chapman …
This is one tough race. Snowdonia will probably involve a fair drive to get to, so get this done sooner rather than later. Racking your bike the night before can help reduce grief on race day, or turn up early to secure a place in the small car park right by transition. Book somewhere to stay in Llanberis itself, that way you’re never too far from the race headquarters.
Llyn (lake) Padarn is famously cold. A neoprene cap really helps with warmth, and you can even use neoprene socks and gloves. We’ve kicked off with a hard frost on the ground in the past but, even if it’s warmer, a decent run between swim exit and transition means it’s a good idea to bring an extra pair of run shoes. Have a short warm-up before the deep-water start. It’s four triangle laps with an exit and re-entry after two, so don’t rush this too much.
The bike exits onto a fairly busy road. It’s brilliantly marshalled but stay alert. There’s a pedestrian crossing soon after, if you get a red relax and take in some calories. The 45km loop starts with the only flat section before tackling the first of many small climbs. The first real test is a short, steep climb after a left turn. Beware of clawing back time on the descent here; it’s on the narrow side, there are speed bumps and a sharp left at the bottom.
The other significant climb at 32km is 7km long but shallower, culminating in Pen-y-Pass. Again resist going flat out on the descent; stones, sheep, walkers and vehicles in the middle of the road are real dangers. When you start to struggle (and you will!) the stunning scenery can help ease the pain.
The tame surfaces lull you into a false sense of security early on the run. At the end of Lake Padarn the road turns uphill and stays that way for 2km. Going too hard here’s a mistake. It’s then almost all downhill to the aid station. This contains some tricky rolling trails, tree roots and loose rocks.
Once the three laps are complete, medics check you/your backpack and you head up Wales’ tallest mountain. Before long, the tarmac kicks up at an horrendous angle. This first Snowdon section is the hardest and, unless you’ve mountain running pedigree, power walking is your best bet. Make sure you check-in with the medic before the summit and cautiously enjoy the return. All but the fastest few will finish in the dark, so a powerful head torch is strongly recommended.
Continue reading our guide to the best UK's Iron-distance triathlons (3/4)