220 Triathlon Woburner race tips

Piers Vallance, 2017’s Woburner winner, offers up his race-beating tips to tackle the 220-sponsored middle-distance event this September


The Woburner is an ideal event for anyone moving up to middle-distance triathlons. I’ve competed in many triathlons across the world but this was my first 113km event. The event date lies towards the end of season so the water should be warm and you’ve the best months of the summer to train for it. The rolling bike course means you won’t break any records, but the run section will produce some quicker times.


With a picturesque backdrop in a man-made decorative lake, the 1.9km swim is pretty special. The water is calm and well-marked with regular buoys. Depending on rainfall the lake is quite shallow in parts, but in these areas sediment can be disturbed and visibility will reduce. 

At this time of year the sun will be low, which can complicate sighting. So practise regular sighting in training to reduce neck-ache in the race. Also look for landmarks around the lake to use as sighting guides during the multi-lap course.

It’s not a mountain but, at 150m, Woburn Abbey sits on top of a hill. During the 90km, three-lap bike course you’ll do this climb three times with many other shorter climbs in between. This makes the bike course fairly unrelenting with not many areas to relax and settle into a rhythm.

I’ve ridden these roads on both road and tri bikes and they each have their own advantages. In 2017 [where Piers produced a 2:41:39 bike split on his way to victory] I opted for my tri bike, but on the rolling section down Long Lane I was overtaken by a road cyclist, who was just out for his weekend ride!

The run takes place on the deer park drive and is relatively flat until the final uphill kicker to the finish line. If you’ve run a half marathon before I’d add 8-10% to your individual half marathon time to get an idea of what to aim for in the race. 


Here’s why we named the Woburner one of the best middle-distance triathlons for beginners in the UK