An iron distance tri set in a picturesque part of southern England. The swim starts in the Thames and then the field of around 700 triathletes tackle a long but fairly flat bike and run course.
Where: Marlow, south England
Distance: 1.9km Swim/ 86km Bike/ 20km Run
Size: Approx 700 triathletes
Official race website here.
- Practice swimming in open water (particularly in a river if possible
- Make sure you can register on the Saturday as they are strict about this.
- Bring £5 for the parking
- Invest in a pair of aerobars for your bike. The course is predominantly flat with lots of opportunity to go aero – I think I was one of the only riders without!
- Get down to transition early on race morning to rack your bike. It is first come first served in terms of positioning so get there early and get set up where you want to be
- Drink an electrolyte mix along with water if it’s forecast to be a hot day
- Be careful getting out the river – climbing up the bank is pretty tricky even with helpers on hand!
- Take care on the bike ride as its on a main road
- Enjoy the occasion and soak up the atmosphere in Higginson Park
- Some of the roads are in pretty poor condition, especially around Henley so watch out for potholes. Also, the roads are not closed for the event so be careful
What’s the organisation and set up like?
The event is very well organised with registration and race briefing strictly done on the Saturday to save time on race morning (pretty important when the race starts at 6am!). Bike racking happens on the morning.
Parking is well organised and positioned right next to the race village (£5 so make sure you bring cash). The usual foody things are on offer with hot food and drink plus the sponsor – MaxiFuel Nutrition – provide the event nutrition which goes down well.
The course is well thought out, with loads of enthusiastic marshals/volunteers and plenty of aid stations with water and Maxifuel gels. The roads aren’t closed which can be a bit of a nuisance for cyclists and motorists alike.
The best part of the organisation is getting Erdiner Alkoholfrei on board for post-race refreshments – free ice cold wheat beer is a nice touch!
Click here for the latest race rules and regs from Brit Traithlon.
What’s the course like?
The swim is a 1900 metre one lap course in the River Thames and is designed to make even the weakest swimmer get a fast swim split. The set up makes it great for spectators who can follow the athletes up and down the river.
The bike course is 2.5 loops covering 86km between Marlow and Henley – the roads are fairly flat, barring a steady incline up to Nettlebed. The cycling takes place almost entirely along a main road so take care. The road surface varies and if there’s been rain some big puddles can collect so beware (see video below).
There are some cracking views along the way, and the majority of the ride is along scenic roads (although they are not always in great condition). There’s only one water stop on the bike at the top of Medmenham hill, but even one is good for a triathlon and is sufficient if you start with two bottles on your bike.
The Run is 4 laps of 5km route on Tarmac and Grass Footpaths that meander back towards Marlow and into the finish at Higginson Park from the river tow path. It’s particularly enjoyable running along the river, although the terrain is rather rough.
How difficult is Marlow Half Iron distance triathlon?
Although the race starts early (6am), it can get quite hot on the exposed course but the organisers do a good job in providing sufficient water throughout the course of the event. There are two aid stations on the run,
meaning you have the opportunity to grab drinks/gels 8 times. Having a sports bottle type water on the run is a good tip as you can carry the bottle with you to top up the fluid levels until the next aid station.
The swim is in the river so that’s a challenge for most athletes in itself. It starts off a bit ‘washing machine’ like but the field spreads out and there’s sometimes a good flow in the right direction to help!
The bike route is predominantly flat and fast, with 2 hills to speak of, the worst being on the climb up to Nettlebed.
What’s the atmosphere like in the crowds and among the racers?
The crowds aren’t huge (especially on the bike course), but the set up of the event means that support on the run is usually very good around Higginson Park. Cheesy motivational music is played around the race village which helps to keep athletes pumped up on the run and in transition. Racers are friendly with lots of first-timers soaking up the excitement of the occasion.
What is there to do Apres Race?
Marlow is a lovely town with plenty of good (albeit expensive) places to eat and drink. The best thing to start your post-race celebration with is receiving your free, ice-cold Erdinger on the finish line!
Competitors notes with more detail on directions and course etc here.
Good site with touristy things here.
F3 Events Facebook page here.
A racer’s home video of the bike course. Good to give you a feel for what it’s like…
My Race Diary
By Adam Bennett
Triathlon number: 2
Finish time: 4hrs 58mins
I’m really pleased with my time as it was only my second triathlon and my first at this distance. I used it mainly as a training event for Ironman UK and just tried to nail down my nutrition and transitions etc. I was pretty pleased with my run split (1:29), especially as it was the hottest day of the year – about 32 degrees! Bring on Bolton Ironman!
- The London Triathlon 2013 (runandtri.wordpress.com)
- Birmingham Triathlon (trireview.co.uk)
- Volunteers needed for SavageMan Triathlon (times-news.com)
- Triathlon Race Day Gear List (powersculptfitness.wordpress.com)
- Women compete in Sylvania triathlon (toledoblade.com)
- The Best Part of a Triathlon (triathlonlab.com)
- My first (sort of) triathlon! (carolcookshealthy.com)
- Bass Lake Hosting Inaugural Youth Triathlon (prweb.com)