Long Course weekend is a unique concept that allows athletes to participate in an iron distance event but without the pressure of the strict IronMan time limits. You can opt to take on one or all three disciplines and even mix and match distances throughout the weekend.
Size: 8,500 athletes
When: July (since 2010)
Where: Tenby, South Wales
Organiser: Activity Wales
Reviewed by Zoe McBeth
- Ignore the jellyfish, they’re harmless… mostly
- Relax in the swim – there are tonnes of excellent safety marshalls out there looking after you.
- Train for hills
- It’s worth holding back in the first 13 miles as the second 13 will sap any energy you have left after a weekend of racing.
- Clear a place on the mantelpiece for 4 medals!
Official race video:
What’s the organisation like?
The organisation is incredible. From the moment you sign up for Long Course Weekend, AWE (Activity Wales Events) keep you informed and updated with regular emails and even text messages. Prior to the event itself, there is a downloadable racepack which is packed with everything you need to know and an fantastic expo located close to Tenby town center, where you can pick up race numbers.
Support from marshals and spectators is also incredible. To put on an event that lasts 3 days must be hard to cover in terms of marshals but there was never a moment when you felt alone out n the course.
I’m not the worlds most confident swimmer in the sea and so took some moments to stop and compose myself and within seconds there were shouts from the safety crew checking I was ok. With over 2,000 people in the water … I found this incredibly reassuring!
Local police help to marshal the bike course and with it being an open road sportive, this is also very reassuring. As a rider you have to abide by usual road laws but I found other road users incredibly understanding and would very often stop to let us pass through a junction. Out on the run the support continued … with locals laying on their own water stations and sprinkler systems outside their own houses.
Feed stations on the bike and run courses were great and I loved what was provided (bananas, energy drinks, crisps, mars bars, sweets and obviously water) but with any endurance event I would always suggest you take your own fuel if you aren’t familiar with using what is provided.
What’s the course like?
SWIM: This is a 2 lap swim course that is quite possibly one of the most breathtaking places I have ever swum.
The water is fresh but not cold and crystal clear (if you get it on a good day) and although they do experience some good waves in Tenby … we were extremely lucky and experienced calm seas and hardly any swell.
There is a downside to the crystal clear water as it does provde a good view of the rather large jellyfish that live in there but they tend to stay way below the surface and keep out of the way.
After 1.2 miles you exit and if you are within the 1 hour limit, you can go back in and get the second lap done. You have 2 hours in total to complete the swim and then you can collect the first of the 4 LCW medals.
BIKE: 2 words … BRUTALLY HILLY!!! Your start time is based on the predicted finish time you put down when you enter and if you aren’t good on hills, it is worth being generous with your prediction.
The first 10 miles is relatively flat then the fun starts … and the hills keep coming! It is a 3 lap course with one 30 mile loop to get you warmed up and then 2 40 mile loops which leave your legs screaming and your mind struggling to focus but the views and sense of achievement you get really does help to maintain an element of positivity!
As it is essentially a sportive, there are no rules about drafting which makes for a very sociable ride and the support from fellow riders is great! For the more competitive riders out there, there is a time trial on one of the more challenging hills and the fastest riders become King and Queen of the mountain! Get back before 5:15 and you claim medal no. 2.
RUN: This is an out and back run that takes you through stunning countryside towards the town of Pembroke where the Half Marathon runners join the full marathon runners. At Pembroke you head out to the coast and back to Tenby … and this is where the hard work really kicks in. It’s worth holding back in the first 13 miles as the second 13 will sap any energy you have left after a weekend of racing.
This marathon is so beautiful though and as with the bike, the views really do help to keep the smiles coming. Heading back into Tenby is one of the best feelings ever and if have already claimed the swim and bike medal, and are within the 6 hour cut off for the marathon … you can claim medal no.3!
This is where the LCW really comes into it’s own … once you have all three medals, you get invited to a medal ceremony to receive the fourth medal to complete the set. Each Long Course athlete has their name read out, gets to walk the red carpet and is personally congratulated by the race organisers.
This is the second time I have completed Long Course Weekend and I love it.
Everything about it is incredible … the support, the course, the location, the concept and the sense of achievement.
It’s one of the best ones out there … if not THE best!!
Click here to read Zoe’s other race reviews.
And here’s her excellent blog about all her adventures in endurance sport!