An award-winning iron distance triathlon set in England’s famous ‘Robin Hood’ county. It’s a tough race but with incredible support and runner-care you’ll be a merry man when you cross the finish line!
Where: Nottingham, Midlands, England
When: July (since 2011)
Distance: 2.4 mile swim, 112m bike, 26.2m run
Entry fee: £245
Size: 1300 triathletes
Winning time/ cut off: 9hrs/ 17 hrs
Race reviewed 2013
Official race website here.
- Train a lot. It’s called Outlaw so ride the bike like you stole it!
- Take stewards up on their kind offers to help you with wetsuits, bike racking or even sun-cream application!
- Find out which way the wind is blowing before the swim and take that into account for alignment (thanks to this website for that one)
- Watch out for the killer hill at mile 50 on the bike
- Take care on the last 2 miles of the bike as it gets gravelly and there are nasty speed bumps and cattle grids to look out for
- Try and ignore the number of wristbands other runners have – it’s your race
- Enjoy it and make sure you take in the amazing atmosphere
What’s the set up like and organisation like?
The organisation throughout the event is phenomenal. In fact, Outlaw has won awards (Triathlon 220 magazine and British Triathlon) for being so well run. Registration is super slick and setting up in the transition areas was really easy. There are 3 briefings throughout the pre-race day and these really help triathletes to alleviate the nerves (a little bit!!).
Stewards are there to help you into and out of wetsuits, to cover you in suncream, to help you out the water, to stop traffic (along the entire 112 mile course), to re-rack your bike, to direct you and to provide encouragement and motivation throughout the day!
Feed stations are every 20-30 miles on the bike course (with water, Hi-5 energy drinks, gels and bananas) and on the run course they are every 1.5 miles (with water, gels, electrolyte tabs, coke, crisps, jaffa cakes, bananas and oranges).
There are also lots of kid’s offering to ‘kindly’ cool runners down by throwing water at them!
Spectators are even catered for with free shuttle buses out to the good vantage points on the massive bike course.
What was the course like?
The race is set in Robin Hood’s hood and is held at a local watersports centre. The swim takes place in the regatta lake and is a simple out and back which makes sighting easy. It’s quite unusual when you find yourself swimming amongst the geese and swans though.
The bike course is made up of figure of 8 loops (you do one loop once and one loop twice) and although there are a
few long, steady climbs but it’s really not that hilly. There is one killer hill at 50 miles but that is the only one that really hits you hard.
It’s a very pretty route that takes you through some lovely villages and the countryside is beautiful, particularly in the glorious sunshine if you’re lucky to get it. The road surfaces are brilliant and any cracks or potholes are clearly highlighted so they can easily be avoided. The last 2 miles are interesting though as it’s a gravelly country lane with nasty speed bumps and a cattle grid! You are told about this though so it shouldn’t come as a horrible surprise.
The run starts with 2 long laps of the lake, then out to the River Trent for a 6 or 7 mile out and back stretch, then another lake lap, another river out and back then a final lake lap to finish. It sounds complicated but the stewards are on hand to help weary runners. Running the lake is tough but the river section was very pretty and broke up the monotony. There is incredible support throughout the run section and the feed stations and crowds really do help to keep you moving.
How difficult is Outlaw?
Very difficult. Any iron distance race is going to be hard and this is no different. It’s got a fearsome reputation amongst triathletes but there are other iron-distance races that are harder. For example, Ironman Lanzorote is very windy and Ironman Nice is stupidly hilly. But this race will test all triathletes.
The bike course is fairly flat so quite fast – the only major hill is at mile 50.
The run is flat and full of support which helps a lot to get you round. There’s a 17 hour cut off which is common for these distance races which adds another element to think about.
One of the tough things about this and other lap-long distance races is that you get ‘wristband envy’. Each time you complete a lap on the run you get a wristband so that you know how many laps you’ve done and as you run by people with more bands, it can be a bit demoralizing!
For most triathletes it’s this mental endurance that is extremely hard but when you eventually cross that line you can call yourself an ‘Outlaw’ just like the Big Robin!
What was the atmosphere like?
The support at the watersports centre is amazing especially towards the end of the run. Every crew member and volunteer is there to help you through the toughest of events and the lapped nature of the bike and run course makes it a good one for spectators to come and cheer people on.
Some extra-nice crowd members are known to run alongside struggling marathoners towards the end.
The atmosphere amongst the competitors is incredible too, the mutual respect and support for each other is there from the moment the event starts to the moment the last person crosses the line. It’s like one big family and everyone was looking after each other which is quite unique to this event.
What is there to Apres Race?
By the time a lot of people finish it’s quite late but the culture is that once you finish you go to cheer others on so it’s worth sticking around. It can be very emotional as the last few people struggle over the line just before the cut off.
There’s camping on site which makes for a good bit of fun for the tired but delighted races who gather around tents just a short walk from the finish. Nottingham is a taxi ride away and a lively city so, if you have the energy, we recommend a nice big dinner in The Lace Market area.
My Race Diary
By Zoe McBeth (Ultra Crazy Girl)
First Iron distance race
Time: 15hrs:58 mins
The longest triathlon I had done before Outlaw was an olympic distance so this was a huge step up and leap into the unknown. I was terrified of the swim, not because I can’t swim but I had visions of being punched and kicked and swum over but it was actually my favourite bit of the day.
My time was 15:58:13 and my aim really was just to finish but was really pleased to have just missed out on the final hour – I am sure I will go back one day to see if I can beat my time!
If you’d like to find out more about Zoe who is attempting to complete ‘One of Everything’ in 2013 (1 marathon, 1 half, 1 sprint tri, 1 olypmic tri etc) you can read her blog here: http://zmcbeth.blogspot.co.uk/
- Outlaw (trireview.co.uk)
- Thousands look to go distance this weekend in Pittsburgh Triathlon (triblive.com)
- 6 Days to Outlaw Triathlon (totriornottotri.com)
- My First Triathlon- DONE! (adventuresmotherdaughterduo.wordpress.com)
- Balancing Family and Triathlon (newsinfo.inquirer.net)
- IronKids triathlon promotes healthy lifestyle (thegazette.com)
- The Outlaw – My team entry into an Ironman (pumperpickingblog.wordpress.com)