A cracking coastal triathlon with minimal racer support but a cracking seaside course. The sea is clean and clear and the bike takes cyclists along long, straight Dorset roads and back to the beach for a gorgeous run in (hopefully) the sun. Oh, and it can get quite hot!
Where: Bournemouth, South England
Size: Approx 200 racers
Olympic: 1500m sea swim, 40k bike and 10k run.
Sprint: 750m sea swim, 20k bike and 5k run.
Olympic completed, July 2011.
Click here for official website.
- Stay in the town the night before and wake up fresh if you can because it’s an early start
- Use the pier as a marker to keep you on course during the swim
- Wear tinted goggles because it’s very bright if the sun is out and it shines behind the swim finish therefore into swimmers eyes!
- Rack your bike in a low gear as the cycle starts on a steep climb
- Study the bike course as it doubles back on itself and can be confusing especially with the varying distances
- Wear bright colours/ high vis on the bike as the dual carriageway can get busy as the day wears on
- Be prepared for a long climb at the final few miles mark of the bike course
- Take water with you on the run as it gets hot and there aren’t many water stations
- Try not to stop for an ice cream!
What’s the organisation and set up like?
This is a minimalist and laid-back triathlon in terms of organisation!
The pre-race preparation is fine with registration the day before etc but on the day you’re pretty much on your own or worse- given dudd information. The swim is well managed as is transition area but on the bike there was a couple of incidents where riders were told to come into transition prematurely which caused minor chaos and some very angry athletes. The bike course is an ‘out-and-back’ and on the way back it’s a wonder no one was injured because the duel carriageway moves pretty fast as people start gearing up on Sunday morning.
What’s the course like?
The swim is a pleasure. The water is clean and fairly clear. The bike is long, straight and fairly flat which is enjoyable but there’s not a great deal to see. The roads aren’t closed to traffic but because of the early start it is very quiet. For late starters it does get a bit busier on the main dual carriageway though as the morning wears on.
The run goes along the water front by the beach and as the Sunday sun builds throughout the day, it can get hot and tough. But running alongside the beach and pretty B n B’s is brilliant and this is one of the best 10km/ 5km runs you can do in a race.
Plus you can jump in the water straight after to cool down!
How’s the atmosphere?
There was a good turn out of spectators on the beach for the start, during the transitions and at the finish line. Out on the bike course it spread out quickly and most cyclists raced alone apart from overtaking or being overtaken!
The athletes seemed a very determined bunch. I suspect many were stepping up to Olympic for the first time.
The bike course is mainly flat with a couple of long minor climbs towards the ends (last few kms before heading back into town). However, the bike course (click on the map to the right for full details) stretches out in practically a straight line so feels a lot longer than it is.
It’s ‘out and back’ so you can tell how far you are in by the people on the return across the road which is a good and bad thing.
The road isn’t very smooth so it does make the bike a bumpy, and tough ride. The run is hot (if the suns out) but completely flat and so be prepared to put in a good time or you’ll get left behind. Overall it’s a good race for all rounders and a great place to step up to Olympic distance triathlon.
What is there to do Après-Race?
The seaside town of Bournemouth makes for a brilliant weekend break. Bring the partner and stay in one of the many B n B’s along the sea front. If the weathers good the sandy beaches are fantastic. Strongly recommend a tub of chips and an ice cream on the beach after the race!
Bournemouth Tourism website here.
A YouTube video of the finish
My Race Diary
Tri no.: 4.
This was my first Olympic. In the lead up to this I had completed Salisbury Sprint Triathlon, Weymouth Sprint Triathlon and Blenheim Palace Sprint Triathlon. I trained a lot and had a good and enjoyable race.
My swim didn’t go brilliantly as I got into a tit-for-tat battle with another swimmer and we both got carried away and went way off course. But, as it’s my weakest discipline, I was still pleased with my 33 minute swim.
My transition was ok but putting on my silly yellow vest I insist in wearing slowed me down! My bike went well. I put in the training and although it was tough and quite lonely on the way back- I was pleased with my 1hr 15min.
On the run I got some cramping and after starting at speed I slowed down and ended up chatting and running with another Tri-hard making it a more leisurely return home. I did peel off and finish the last few Km at speed and was very happy with my 2hrs49 finish.