Outlaw Half Holkham: Race info, tips and training advice

Former coaching partner for the Outlaw series and Team Oxygenaddict head coach Rob Wilby shares his top tips for success at the Half Holkham

Athlete competing at Outlaw Half Holkham

Outlaw events have been a firm favourite among triathletes for years, being well suited to both newcomers and experienced athletes alike.


Among them is Outlaw Half Holkham. With its one-lap swim, fast and flat bike, and a run characterised by fine views of the picturesque country estate, it’s easy to see why so many people flock here year after year. Plus, in 2023 it’s also hosting the British Middle Distance Championship.

Whether you’ve entered or are considering doing so, here’s our guide to the event, including training tips, advice for racing and a whole lot more!

When is Outlaw Half Holkham?

The race will be taking place on Sunday 9 July 2023, though competitors will be required to rack their bikes in transition the day before.

Where does the race take place?

The event will be held at Holkham Hall in Norfolk, in the east of England. The country house itself dates back to the 18th century and the course will take athletes around the grounds and the surrounding countryside.

How long is Outlaw Half Holkham?

As this race is a middle-distance triathlon, you’ll need to swim 1.9km, cycle 90km and run 21.1km.

What’s the course like?

The event begins with a one-lap swim in the private lake on Holkham Estate, which will unfold in a time trial format. You’ll start on a floating pontoon and then walk down a ramp and into the water.

You’ll then complete one lap against the backdrop of the estate and Holkham House, before exiting and making your way into transition.

The bike is also a one-lap affair over a rolling course that has a total elevation gain of 647m. It’ll take you on a 90km loop through Norfolk’s countryside, passing through seaside town Wells-next-the-Sea and past the popular royal hangout of Sandringham Estate.

Once onto the run, you’ll have a three-lap course to tackle, with each seven-mile loop keeping you within the beautiful grounds of the estate. The total elevation gain is 213m.

Top tips for racing Outlaw Half Holkham

Credit: RB Create/OSB Events

The swim is a single lap of the lake within the grounds of the stately home Holkham Hall in Norfolk, the setting for this event. You’ll enter the water via the ramp in a time trial format and swim north to the end of the lake, circle a small island and then return to the same place you started. If it’s a clear day, the sun will be rising right in your eyes, so mirrored or shaded goggles will really help.

Transition is in front of the grand Georgian house, and with a field of over 1,000 athletes, it’s important to remember to check for landmarks to help you find your bike. Checking your rack position relative to the main building, counting which row you’re racked in, and noting any banners or flags in the area can really help you avoid wasting time here.

The bike course is best described as ‘classic British road conditions’, with some really good smooth road sections mixed with some rougher ones. While there are no killer hills, the course is undulating in places through beautiful countryside, and exposed to the wind in others nearer the coast. It will reward the triathlete who is comfortable time trialling in the aero position, especially when dealing with any headwind sections.

The run course is three undulating laps around the grounds of Holkham Hall. Straight out of transition, you’ll climb gradually for a kilometre to the obelisk. This is a challenging run, with a mix of surfaces – concrete, gravel and a hard-packed dirt path. The uphills can really sap your legs if you’re unprepared, so be sure to include hilly, steady runs in training.

Fuelling and pacing will be the key to your ultimate success over the half Outlaw distance. Practise taking in the region of 250 calories per hour on the bike during training, as a mix of energy gels, energy drinks or solid foods. On race day, replicate what’s been successful in training. Stop taking any calories or liquid 10mins before the end of the bike leg to allow your stomach to settle for the run leg

Outlaw Half Holkham training sessions

Credit: RB Create/OSB Events

Session one

Practise swimming in a group in open water before race day, sitting on someone else’s feet and lifting your head to sight every five to seven strokes.

Session two

On your long ride in training, insert intervals of 10mins at just above your goal race pace in the aero position, followed by 5mins of riding steady. Increase the interval by 5mins each week until you’re comfortable for 25mins.

Session three

Six weeks before the race, start doing a 15min run off the bike at a steady pace after your weekly long ride. It will help your legs return to feeling ‘normal.’ With two weeks to go, extend this run to between 30-45mins.

Session four

Include hilly runs in training to prepare for Holkham. You’ll use more knee lift, and it will acclimatise your leg muscles.


Top image credit: RB Create/OSB Events