A member of the Race New Forest stable of events since 2006, the New Forest Middle has become a popular late-season blast-out on the UK tri scene, and also picked up the 220 Race of the Year (less than 500 entries) award in both 2006 & 2007.
Previous winners over the pony-populated course include a handful of the UK’s top age-groupers – Hywel Davies, James Gilfillan, Ben Howard, Sophie Whitworth, Tracy Cook (who finished fourth overall) and Emma Dews.
Setting his own path to amateur legend status is last year’s winner Clive Kennedy-Burn, who here provides his top tips to master the New Forest Middle…
Early morning in the New Forest in late September will be dark and chilly. So I’d suggest bringing a good head torch, hat and warm jacket as well as a pair of flip-flops as T1 is sandy and gravelly underfoot. I’d also bring a short-sleeved top to keep you warm for the first part of the bike. The run is predominantly off road so strict racing flats are not advisable. Finally, I’d advise putting on socks in T2 to avoid stones or gravel getting into your shoes.
Take the majority of calories in the 48 hours prior to the race. This will ensure maximum glycogen storage as not many people feel like having a big breakfast at 4am on race day. If you do, go carb-rich, e.g. toast and/or porridge. There are regular aid stations on the course but this shouldn’t replace your own personal energy requirements, e.g. two full water bottles on the bike and a selection of energy bars and gels to see you through the duration of the race. Look to take your caffeine gel in the last 15mins of the bike so you get a boost going into the run.
Ellingham Lake is a fantastic place to swim and the water is ideal at that time of year. I’d recommend going to one of their open-water swim sessions on a Wednesday or Saturday morning to familiarise yourself with the course. It’s a split transition, and the bike course is a double loop, so riding or driving a loop prior the race would also be beneficial.
You’ll start in the water so make sure you position yourself according to your swim ability. I’d personally use clear lens goggles as the sun won’t be up that early. It’s a double loop with a narrow slipway exit and a short run to T1.
The bike course incorporates a few obstacles in the form of New Forest ponies and cattle grids so keep a vigilant eye open for these. The New Forest can be narrow in places but the course isn’t too hilly, which makes for a fast bike split. Take the time to look around – the New Forest in September is an incredible place to race.
The run is multi-terrain – undulating and loose underfoot in places – and there are regular aid stations, which I used in order to meet the challenges of the run. Make the most of the downhills as there are some challenging uphills, and don’t forget to take in the fantastic scenery.
Number of starters in 2015: 176
Number of finishers in 2015: 164
Bike elevation: 1,820 feet
Run elevation: 1,100 feet