Possibly the longest-running triathlon in the UK and one of the most popular. A tough swim in the fast flowing Thames is followed by a scenic bike ride and a noisy, atmospheric run through Windsor. One of the best races in country.
When: June (since 1990)
Where: Windsor, Berkshire
Size: Around 4,000 triathletes
Distances: Sprint, Olympic and relay
Official website here.
- Rack your bike the day before as there are no exceptions
- Wrap your bike up overnight incase it gets rained on
- Swim to the right and get to the far bank as quickly as possible to get out of the current in the centre of the river
- On the far side of the river you can touch the bottom so nail it over there and take a rest if you need to before making your way upstream to the turning buoys
- On the way back downstream go for it as the current will carry you. Expect a quick time.
- But save a bit of energy for the final 20 meters as they are upstream
- On the bike, use aero bars and practise tucking in as it is fairly flat or rolling with no major hills
- Once you make it out of the wooded area and into the plains past the pink house in The Great Park, put your foot down
- On the run – break it up into small chunks and try not to slow down on the climb to Windsor Castle
- Run at your own pace – the wave system means that people overtaking you are probably fresher/ just about to finish
- Enjoy the support – not very common in tri!
What’s the organisation and set up like?
As a very well established event, Human Race have things here down to a fine art. The rules are quite rigid – no wracking on the day and race stewards are very active, but it all makes for a smooth day of racing.
As one of the most popular races in the country, it is quite expensive (around £100) and you sign up online and receive very informative countdown emails. For people with a few races in the calendar this is really handy as it keeps you on top of how far away the race is. On the day everything is really well arranged with transition right next to the swim start, race village and a very helpful team in the information tent.
The race briefing is a bit on the low-key side and the speaker could do with using a megaphone but the race is all pretty straight forward (1 lap on bike, 3 on run) so it’s ok.
Out on the bike course there are no mileage signs which is a shame for people without GPS tech on their bikes. There are also no nutrition or water stations so make sure you take your own. The closed roads are a real treat though especially coming back into Windsor which is really exciting.
On the run there are 2/3 water stations which only have water (that we saw) so worth taking your own gels/ sweets if needs be.
What’s the course like?
The course is a real treat with swim, bike and run taking over the brilliant town of Windsor and beyond.
The Thames is a real challenge as it has such a strong current. It’s overlooked by the castle and lovely parkland around and the scenic quality is replicated right around the course. The bike course goes out of Windsor and towards Maidenhead then Ascot and back passing through long, straight rolling roads with trees and fields all around.
The best bit of the bike is through the Great Park down a speedy hill as you come back into town. You can get some serious speed at points and having no cars on the road makes it really good fun for overtaking.
The run is a real treat too taking you around the castle and through lovely little village of Eton.
How difficult is Windsor Triathlon?
It’s not overly hilly – there are 2 notable hills on the bike around the halfway point and three quarters mark and there is the sharp hill on the run up to the castle which you have to do 3 times for Olympic distance. However the swim does sap energy as the current is very strong.
Your swim time will be good because of the benefits on the way back but it’s not an easy swim. The bike is also 42km instead of the usual 40km which is a noticeable increase.
Overall it evens out to make a good solid challenge – don’t expect a PB but it’s a quick race.
What’s the atmosphere like?
Brilliant. It’s one of the best attended races in terms of support that there are in the country and athletes are all really up for it. There are some serious tri-hards there with all the gear who are quite aggressive on the bike course (TO YOUR RIGHT!!!) but most people are fine.
The run is particularly good for atmosphere as the field is really packed and it feels more like a 10km than a tri run which is really unique and enjoyable.
What is there to do Apres Race?
Windsor is a brilliant town with loads of great restuarants and bars. However, make sure you book somewhere as it all fills up very quickly, especially during the fathers day weekend.
Outside of Windsor there are lots of great pubs for a lunch like in Winkfield.
My Race Diary
By Joe Tidy
Tri Number: 14th
Position: Around 620/1600
Time: 2hrs 39mins
I had a brilliant race that went almost perfectly. I had a great swim (27mins) which I thought was going to be slow because of the current but turned out to be quick with the downstream boost. The bike was brilliant and I actually really enjoyed it – especially the end. On the run I really pushed myself but fell off the pace a bit towards the halfway point. I got a horrible blister on my foot which was quite painful and distracting!
Overall I am really pleased with my race and can highly recommend the event for anyone who likes fast, scenic tris.