Tried and tested: Three Cornish triathlons
As the number of participants in marathons, half marathons, triathlons, biathlons, Iron Man, 10k, 5k, surges and peaks in the summer months, why not jump on the exercise bandwagon, meet a bunch of people, get fit (come on you’ve always wanted to) and have some adrenalin-drenched fun? We pick the best of Cornwall’s triathlon courses, tried and tested by our own tri pro, personal trainer, fitness fanatic and nutrition extremist Jonno.
St Mawes Sprint Triathlon: 750m swim, 23.6km bike, 4.2km run, 25th September 2011
2010 saw the inaugural running of this event and it was a huge success, attracting both seasoned and first time triathletes. Slightly more challenging than some of the pool based events, it’s ideal as a first open water tri with the swim set in the shelter of St Mawes harbour.
It’s a mass start from the beach and a sprint into the water – out to a buoy then back again, followed by a quick sprint to transition in the main car park and then onto the bike. There’s not much time to think before a steep climb out of town hits you and you’re into a hilly course more suited to road bikes unless you are an experienced triathlete and can handle it on your aero set up. Watch out for narrow gravelly sections of road and the odd pile of manure. The last mile or so is fast downhill back to transition, so give your legs some well-earned rest; once you’ve pulled your running shoes on, you’ll be headed straight uphill and out of town. The first incline is a killer but eases off until half way round the course after which it’s all downhill with a flat sprint finish.
Verdict: A well organised event with chip timing in a beautiful setting.
Bude Sprint Triathlon: 500m sea swim, 11 mile bike ride, 3 mile run, 26th June 2011
This particular Sunday in June turned out to be the hottest day of the year and given that the race is in the afternoon, it ought to have only been contested by mad dogs and Englishmen but as with all triathlons there were hundreds of entrants. Bude Tri is one of the most popular in Cornwall.
The transition and finish is in the car park at Summerleaze Beach in the centre of town. Start times are set to coincide with an outgoing tide so the swim is actually one of Cornwall’s craziest. 500m sounds like a reasonable distance but the current literally sucks you out to the buoy as you try and avoid all the boats moored in the channel while speeding past out of control. Hit the buoy then ride back in on the waves to the beach to complete a fun swim. Run back up the beach to T1 and grab your bike – watch out for a hill straight away, it’s a small one but enough to make a mess of getting your shoes in the cleats. Once out of town the ride takes in the coast road past Whitesands Bay, uphill until you reach the main A39 and turn back towards Bude after which it’s a head down fast sprint. The run takes you back through town, along a flat respite by the river before heading up the only long hill, down the other side and back into town to finish. The excess heat on the day was a huge factor so get some relief by jumping in the river to cool down.
Verdict: This is definitely a popular race and fun for all its idiosyncrasies. Post-race there’s no better way of recovering than taking a dip in the sea with your 5-year-old son, as the cool water soothes away the aches in your legs.
Penzance Sprint Triathlon, 400m Pool Swim, 15.5 mile bike, 4 mile run
Penzance Leisure Centre, April 3rd 2011
Mounts Bay Harriers kick-start the season with the first triathlon on the Cornish calendar. Held at Easter, temperatures can be a little chilly but after an indoor swim in tropical conditions you’ll be more than warmed up for the bike ride. The 400m indoor pool swim warms you up for the hilly and often windy 15.5 mile bike ride out towards St Just (some really fast descents make the bike leg lots of fun) past Land’s End airport and back up the A30 before legging it around Heamor for an undulating four mile jaunt. There’s a cruel uphill drag at the end but the passing cyclists’ shouts of encouragement pull your whining calves to the top and on to the finish sprint where you’ll be greeted by cheers from the crowd, a nice medal, water and a banana.
Verdict: Normally there are around 100 entrants but places fill up fast so book up early for 2012. The organisation is second to none, always putting on a great event with a nice goodie bag, T-shirt and quality medal to remind you of your achievement.