Its so great to be able to take part in ITU events, and despite the war stories I’d seen from 2016, I was definitely signing up for this.
Bikes had to be racked the day before for the Olympic distance at a Roundhay Park. Was very quick and I was done in transition in no time. You could have a practice swim in Waterloo Lake if you wanted, for a small fee, and there was some good fun to be had for the kids with a mini Duathlon and bouncy castles. There’s a nice atmosphere in the park, and some good merchandise and kit stalls for those last minute purchases.
Race day was pretty functional. The lake was just brilliant to swim in, super clear and could sight well. Felt shallow in some areas with the lake bed near the surface but really not a problem. It’s a little run up to transition and then you’re off and away on the bike.
Bike course is ok, all urbanised and shoots over to Headingley in the west and back. Couple of climbs and a lot of false flats. On paper it looked a relatively simple course but you do have to plug away a bit. Was disappointed it wasn’t a full 40km, to be fair to event organisers they advertise this, it’s nearer 37km.
Run is nice for about a km as it escapes the park and then is a pretty boring trek into town through a blend of neighbourhoods and A roads, with very sparse support. It hits the city centre around 7km and then the noise goes up ten fold, lots of people cheering right to the finish on millennium square. Best thing here is the pint of Erdinger Alkoholfrei and also a very robust medal to mark your achievement. Of disappointment was the cotton long sleeved t-shirt given out. Great for keeping warm so thumbs up there but not a technical or souvenier shirt really, faded badly after a single wash.
Getting back to Roundhay was a doddle to get everything, it’s five minutes from the finish to the bus stop and no waiting around. I was back at my accommodation post race in just over an hour having collected all my stuff. As long as you plan bike racking day and race day, and the organisers keep the same standard up, it can all be seamless.
Posted on 14.05.18
Loved this race. Super cheap to enter and just oh so easy on race day.
From car park to registration to transition set up, real close proximity and done in a flash. There was a quick race briefing and then three waves for the lake. Simple anti-clockwise route and no congestion.
The bike course is the real jewel in the crown here, awesome country roads and at one point found myself with no one in sight and just endless green valleys either side. There’s a cheeky little climb in there but totally manageable.
The run is trail-based, all round Ragley Hall, with mild undulation.
This is a brilliant race full stop, particularly if you want a speedy time but a little bit of challenge thrown in to keep you on your toes. Definitely a perfect and friendly race for first timers to enjoy.
Race profile is pretty low and wasn’t overloaded with info in the weeks and months before the race, which is obviously different to the bigger events. The organisers might want to keep it relatively small and perhaps its better for it. Definitely one to sign up for and put in your schedule regardless, it’s a fantastic event!
Posted on 14.05.18
Wasnt my best day at the office for the sprint race. A disappointing swim and a crash on the bike with swim burns wasn’t fun, the run was great fun though and the best part of the day, really lovely run through the Trentham Estate and well supported too, particularly amongst the competitors.
I’ll just give a view on the swim and bike.
Swim: There wasn’t enough time given to get all the wave competitors into the lake, I found myself 25m or so back from the start line still making my way forward when the klaxon went off. Not only was the entire swim competely pitch black which freaked me out for the duration, but there was a tonne of weeds that had been cut and leftfloating. Honestly it was zero fun, recorded my slowest sprint swim ever and have never been so happy to get out of the water. There was a warning about the weeds in the briefing but was completely unprepared for the lack of visibility. The run to transition had a compulsory shoe element which I’m never a fan of, it just wastes time for me. The ground looked pretty decent for bare feet in my opinion.
Bike: Yes I crashed, and it was all my fault. I put my head down for a few seconds and caught someone up who seemed like they were miles away in a flash. When I looked up, I was on their shoulder and somersaulting over my handlebars. Ouch!! Thankfully they were ok and just rode on without a care in the world. I dusted myself down, no damage to bike or me bar some skin burn, and got on with finishing the race. The bike course is pretty flat and you can get some solid speed going, the organisers are able to close one side of the dual carriageway so you feel safe. It’s not a pretty course, just functional.
It was a wretched day on the weather front too, so transition was like mushy peas under foot. The saving grace for me on the day was the run and also getting looked after by the medics afterwards for my skin burn.
I wouldn’t recommend this race to first timers because of the lake swim, it was far from ideal and you want to enjoy this part as it’s always a big thing getting into open water. It’s a fast course for those wanting to improve however so on that basis, it’s one for your list.
If you have a young family supporting you, the Monkey Forest next door is a great way to wind down for a couple of hours after the race. They serve hot food and there is a playpark. A nice way to thank them for cheering you on all morning.
Posted on 14.05.18
A beautiful venue with some real testing climbs on the bike and the run, and an absolute blast to race. Super friendly Marshall team and the course itself was WOW, stunning to race on.
Few areas the organisers could look at to improve on the general experience:
- Race branding: Arrived at the car park and the race felt like a side show to the venue, just a few small illuminous signs up with directions to race HQ. Immortal have a cool brand so would like to see more branded signage to help with directions. Really friendly Marshall pointed me in the right direction but I honestly would not have known the race was on if I was just visiting.
- Race Briefing: Would have liked to see course maps sent out in advance as I was confused by the maps in registration area, no idea if there was going to be laps etc. It was super hard to hear the announcer at the race briefing ahead of the swim and had to ask three different people and then a Marshall how many turns and buoys to navigate around.
- Swim Waves: Adjacent to my point on race briefing ahead of the swim. Even though there were only 180 competitors, the mass start made it bumpy for the first half of the swim. I’m a relatively slow swimmer and expected it to thin out more quickly. Would be practical to set off waves 5-10 mins apart based on self seeding for swim time and brief each group before they jump in. Would make hearing the briefing easier and stop the swim congestion. They could also mention the water visibility to calm the nerves. The swim start is pitch black, as are a few pockets of the swim. It clears after 50 metres or so and is beautiful but having that reassurance ahead of jumping in would be great. Never easy for the nerves getting in open water, less so when you can’t even see your hands.
- Swim transition: Sure this is a logistical thing but looking at the area round the lake, didn’t see why the transition couldn’t be next to the swim. It was a 500m or so uphill run on tough gravel and road, you need a pair of shoes to run up there comfortably. Or the organisers need to invest in some matting to lay down as a path all the way up.
- Nutrition: Just water at the start of the run. Would have liked to see two aid stations and with energy drink. Everyone was racing well over 90 mins on a challenging course, needed more support here to get through the run.
Feels like I’m nitpicking with a lot of this stuff, I walked away feeling liked I’d done one of the best races ever - the course is that good - and so great as a test at the start of the UK season. If the Immortal team can look at a few of these areas over the next year or two, I can really see this being a must-do race for triathletes all over the UK and internationally too.
Posted on 14.05.18