A picturesque multi-distance triathlon set at Belvoir castle. The course is undulating with some nasty hills and lots of wind – so a real test for the hundreds of triathletes that take part each year.
Where: Belvoir Castle, Leicestershire
When: June (since 2005)
Distance: Middle distance (half iron), Sprint and Olympic
Size: Middle distance: approx. 250, Sprint: 100. Olympic: 100.
Official race website here.
- Take a ride around the bike course about 3 weeks out from race day if you can to familiarize yourself.
- The weather can be very changeable, so take a variety of clothing with you for all weathers.
- Fueling on the bike is really important as you can easily overlook it on the bike and then struggle on the tough run course.
- Get your head down on the start of each bike lap and let loose as it’s flat or downhill
- Use aerobars if you have them
What was the organisation and set up like?
This race is very well organised and a good challenge for people in a stunning setting. Belvoir castle is an impressive site and the villages surrounding in the Vale of Belvoir are very pretty.
Once you’ve signed up, communication in the lead up to the race is done through email updates. You have to register the day before the race and if you’re doing the full Beaver middle distance race you get given coloured bags for each part of the race that you put your various kit into and bring on the morning of the race.
Out on the course there are lots of race stewards to direct people and as you run into transition there’s a guy on a tannoy shouting out people’s names which is great. The transition area is laid out in a wide rectangle in a field near the castle with 3 long racks to choose from.
There’s one nutrition station for the bike leg but as it’s a lapped course you can use it 3 times for the long distance race. There are 2 stations on the run which, again you use multiple times depending on your distance.
What’s the course like?
The swim is right at the foot of the castle. The water is shallow, muddy and warm and good for first timers who can rest assured that if they struggle, they can stand up in most areas. The start is staggered with each wave off about 10 mins apart and long distance triathletes do 1 and half laps.
Then it’s a long steep run up about 600m to the transition field at the castle. It’s a long way to run in a wetsuit so save some energy for it.
Out on the bike course it’s hilly, windy and picturesque. You’re cycling through the Vale of Belvoir – a traditional old English, thatched roofs sort of area which is really pleasant. Ignore the pain! Long distance completers do 3 laps of roughly 17miles. The surface is rutted and rough and therefore quite testing.
The bike laps wiz past the transition which is brilliant for spectators and the run stays close to the transition too. Long distance runners do 4 laps of roughly 3 miles that goes up a steep hill away from the transition then back down again. You don’t get a rest off the bike so get some fuel in on the bike.
How difficult is the Beaver triathlon?
This course is tough and a real test for all triathletes.
The swim is pretty straight forward but the hills on the bike and run are constant and it’s never flat.
The first 10 miles on the bike are downhill so the field picks up some serious speed. Aerobars are a good idea. The last 7 miles of each bike lap are hilly and windy. The worst hill comes at about mile 11 on the climb up to ‘The Beaver Ridge’ which is steep and about 2 miles long. So with 3 laps – you do this hill 3 times on the long course!
The run is 4 laps and goes up quite a long climb on each lap which really saps your legs. But is nice running down the opposite way.
How’s the atmosphere?
There isn’t any cover for spectators so the weather can have a big impact on spectators but generally there’s a great feel to it. The way the course is laid out allows spectators to see their subjects multiple times so there isn’t a long wait.
Amongst the competitors there’s a nice, excited atmosphere. A lot of triathletes use the race as their first middle distance looking ahead to The Outlaw full distance later in the year. There are also lots of local tri teams out in force.
What is there to do Apres Race?
Erdinger alcohol free beer is given out at the end as a post race refreshment which is great, as lots of people sit around drinking and chatting at the tent after the race.
There are also tons of lovely old English pubs in the area so you won’t struggle to get a nice pub lunch!
Official race website here.
Tourist info for Belvoir Castle here.
My Race Diary
By Mark White
Iron Distance coach and competitor
My race didn’t go as well as planned, I was a bit ‘flat’ on race day. This was because I was in heavy training for Challenge Roth in 5 weeks time, and couldn’t afford to do a full taper for the Belvoir. This left me a little tired on race day. But I did my best so was happy with the result. I’ve raced the Beaver twice. 1st time was in 2010 where I finished 8th overall, 3rd in the 40-45 age group, and again this year(2013) where I finished 20th overall and 4th in the 40-45 age group.
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