A large, multi-distance tri is set in the harbour of Liverpool city in the north west of England. It’s a flat course with famously fierce winds pretty much guaranteed so it’s a challenge, but also a good place to get a PB or try your first tri.
Where: Liverpool, north west England.
Size: 1200 triathletes
Distances: Olympic, Sprint and Relay.
Organisation: Basic | Good | Perfect
Difficulty: Challenging | Tough | Rock Hard
Official race website here.
- Ignore the jelly fish in the harbour – they are harmless!
- Don’t used solid-spoke bike wheels as the wind will probably blow you off course or onto your bum
- Rack your bike in the correct space otherwise the officials will tell you off and threaten you with a penalty
- Look out for the uneven road surface and man holes about 2km out into the bike loop
- Take advantage of the smooth, straight sections on the road and go flat out
- Gear down going into the first turn as you’ll need to power out of it to get back to race speed
- Gear up going into the second bike turn as you go straight into a down hill afterwards
- Look out for the ridiculously blustery section of the bike course at the major traffic light junction
- On the run watch your footing on the cobbles
- And make sure you look up to enjoy the awesome buildings 1km in through the dock.
As part of the European Championship circuit, the race is well-organised and well publicized. The roads are closed to traffic and everything is laid out clearly and easily but that’s to be expected with a price tag of £70+ an individual.
There isn’t any pre-race paperwork sent out but everything is on the website and they send regular emails leading up to race day. You can register the day before but bike racking is only done on the morning (from 6:30am – racing starts from 8am). One nice touch is that they give a special postcode that will help your sat-nav get around said road closures so that you don’t have any faff in the morning. There are drink stations on the run and some very nice stewards to clap you along/ scrape you off the tarmac when the wind blows you over!
Brilliantly there is also a non-alcoholic beer tent at the finish line as well!
What’s the course like?
Despite being in the historic and happening city of Liverpool, you don’t see any of the sights. The swim start and transition takes place in Queen’s Dock inside the salt-water harbour.
Interestingly there are hundreds of little brown jelly fish in the water but they are completely harmless and quite nice to look at.
The bike course takes you out of the dock yard and out along a pretty drab road for 5km or so and back again. You’ll do as many laps as it takes to reach your distance but the scenery is pretty non-descript – just a few shops and an industrial estate to gaze at. The roads are very smooth though apart from one small 500m stretch about 3km out.
The run loop is the best of the three taking you out the dock and around the amazing Three Graces (Liver Building, Cunard Building and Port Authority). Then you go down a slip road and turn around and come back. Not much to see there!
For a really good in-depth course guide see Alvin Cooney’s write up here.
How’s the atmosphere?
The locals are a hardy folk and even in wind and rain will gather at the various spectator points. The support is especially good at the swim start where they can grab last minute pictures and cheer you on along the upper deck of the harbour and across the bridges. The bike and run loops also enable people to get close to the action.
Being a part of the Euro Championships it also brings out a few more fans than a normal race which is great and local press are keen to get in on the action too so that adds to it all.
How difficult is Liverpool Triathlon?
This is course to get a personal best. There are no hills and the roads are smooth and straight. Because of this, don’t expect to place high unless you consider yourself one of the big boys and girls! It’s not a walk in the park though because of the wind. Whenever the road climbs even a few meters the wind is so fierce it knocks you off course and slows even the strongest of riders down. See tips box for when this is.
The salt-water also helps swimming in the harbour. The extra buoyancy without the added struggle of sea waves and sea cold will help most people achieve a pretty quick swim. The run is also completely flat but there are some cobbled streets to watch out for.
What is there to do apres-tri?
Liverpool is an awesome city even if you’re not a fan of The Beatles! But if you are even slightly interested in music, there’s lots of Beatles tours, museums and eveniconic pubs to visit. We suggest a trip to Albert Dock’s Beatles museum followed by a pint in Cavern Club – where the Fab Four used to play.
Other resources to help prepare for Liverpool Triathlon…
Good video from Tri247.com from the 2010 race…
Tri No.: 7
Time: 2hr 32mins
This was my 4th Olympic distance Tri and I was looking for a PB. The wind and rain were horrible and made it a bit of a struggle on the bike at points with many people overtaking me after a strong , PB swim (26mins). I ended up coming into transition losing more places than I’d gained but still on course for a sub 2:40 race.
My previous best was 2:41 so I was desperate to beat that. My run started strong but I faded after a few kms and let a few runners overtake me before snapping back into race-mode. After the first lap and some brilliant banter from my supporting friend I was well up for the final 5km and picked up the pace to overtake about 10 people and come in in my best time yet – 9 minutes quicker than my previous time. Thank you Liverpool!