Based on course statistics, we once named the Croyde Ocean Triathlon the fifth-hardest Olympic-distance triathlon in the world.
Having done 2019’s event this weekend in North Devon (and finished in 323rd place), we can confirm this is one tough cookie of a challenge, with a sea swim, relentlessly-rolling 40km bike and a mixed terrain 12km run along coastal paths where, for us at least, the only option was a rueful smile and to walk the multiple inclines. And all in scorching conditions with barely a breeze to sooth the skin.
Sunday’s race was the fifth consecutive Croyde Ocean Triathlon, and its sell out field of 480 (150 were on the waiting list) and number of repeat athletes is testament to the friendly feel of the race and a jaw-dropping course (is there a better view in UK tri than the run course one over Saunton Sands?) that entices multiple visits to this gorgeous corner of Devon.
The race saw two-time winner and local lifeguard Jack Hutchens exit the 1.5km swim alongside Bristol’s David Langston in just 19:31, before Hutchens extended his narrow advantage after the steep transition run and T1 to 29secs.
Hutchens then posted the fastest 40km bike and 12km run splits of the day to break the tape in 2:16:33, establishing a new course record by over five minutes. Second place went to fellow Croyde lifeguard Oli Wright and bronze went to Matt Cox. Stepping into the lead was Newbury’s Victoria Duncan, who was overall winner by a comfortable 7mins, beating Rebecca Stobart (Cornwall) into second place and London’s Claire Pepper into third.
There were over 40 relay teams taking part, with ‘Snot and Dribble’ in first place for the males. First in the female category were JCB, the Family Cup went to Family Elphick and the first mixed team was Team 76 77 78. There was even a finish line proposal between Croyde Tri regulars Ashley Kirkham and Victoria Doran.
2020’s Croyde Ocean Triathlon in association with the Pickwell Foundation is taking place on Sunday 12 July. Limited early bird entries are available at www.croydeocean.co.uk