This Saturday sees the eighth edition of the Beaver Triathlon, a 1.9km swim, a 74km undulating bike, and 20km hilly run around the scenic, rolling Leicestershire countryside.
Race HQ is nestled within the grounds of the historic Belvoir Castle, giving athletes exclusive access to the beautiful, rural surroundings. This year the event will attract a competitive field, as it is the British Middle Distance Championships, and so athletes will be battling it out for the coveted national title.
The Beaver Swim
1) As the swim is held in quite a shallow lake (which has been partially dredged this year), it is going to be warmer than other sites at this time of year. When I raced last year it was 19 degrees, which meant that wetsuits were not compulsory- although I got along quite nicely wearing one. Bear this in mind; make sure you take on plenty of fluids beforehand, so that you are properly hydrated, as it does get quite warm.
2) The lake is quite shallow and very silty in places, which means that visibility can be difficult, especially on the second lap. Do not get put off by this, the course is very clearly laid out and well marshaled by a team of experienced canoeists. The start is done in waves, which means that it never gets too busy and providing you position yourself well, it is possible to have quite an organised swim. Also make sure that you are wearing a good pair of goggles that fit properly – this is paramount so to avoid any discomfort, and ensure that you are able to easily see where you are going.
3) There’s a 450m run up the hill from the lake, to T1. This is well marked and soft underfoot. Use this to your best advantage, get your breath back and start to prepare yourself for transition, remind yourself of what order you are going to do things in. Don’t get yourself worked up or try to race it. This is also a good time to make sure you give your face a good wipe down – a ‘mud beard’ is not a good look – not on anyone.
The Beaver Bike
1) The bike course is made up three laps, consisting of long fast TT straights, short and sharp climbs and long ascents/descents. If you have the opportunity to ride/drive the course beforehand then I would recommend it. If not, treat the first lap as a practice loop, familiarizing yourself with the terrain and determining the best pacing strategy for your second and third loops.
2) Although the course is mildly undulating throughout, there is only one hill which stands out as being particularly mean. It is a relatively short climb, but is approximately a 10% gradient and so will burn even the strongest cycling legs. Take this steady and select the appropriate gear.
3) Keep yourself fuelled – and familiarize yourself with the fuel stops available on the course. There is a water station available at the end of each cycle lap- where water and USN nutrition will be available. Don’t load your bike up at the start; you are just going to weigh yourself down (unless you have a very specific strategy in which to follow).
The Beaver Run
1) The run is made up of four laps – an out and back course, up the newly named ‘USN Hill’ and back down again. This might sound daunting, but it really isn’t. Each climb is matched with a leg stretching descent. Use the downhill to your benefit, relax your arms and stretch your legs, this will really help you out on the 3rd and 4th laps where you will inevitably be starting to fatigue.
2) Drink lots. The forecast is good for the weekend, and as the route offers very little in the way of shelter – things can get warm. Use the feed stations from the word go, keep drinking plenty of fluids and follow your nutritional strategy as well as you can. There is a water station at the very top of the hill, which I would thoroughly recommend using as it is a) a nice thing to look forward to as you climb. b) it’s much easier to drink as you run downhill.
3) Don’t get put off by others around you. As it is four laps, you are going to be surrounded by athletes of varying paces. Try not to be too aware of what everyone else is doing, maintain your own pace throughout and listen to your body at all times. If you are going to ‘kick’, do it on the final descent back down to the finish – it feels really good to do this on strong legs!
Race Organisers Just Racing UK will be offering the opportunity for athletes to sign up for last minute entry slots on Friday evening between 5pm and 7pm.
And if you don’t feel quite ready for The Beaver, why not try the Little and Speedy Beaver races which take place this Sunday? The Little Beaver is Olympic distance (1.5km swim, 40km bike, 10km run) and the Speedy Beaver a Sprint (750m swim, 20km bike, 5km run). Like The Beaver, both races take place in the surrounds of Belvoir Castle, and have earned a strong reputation for their organization over the past few years. Last minute entries are available for both of these events on Saturday evening 4pm until 6pm.
For more information about all three Beaverfest events, visit www.justracinguk.com.