Race Review by Triathlon Matt
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As a finisher of the inaugural 2014 Cotswold 226 iron distance triathlon I was over the moon when I heard the news that there would be a weekend option. Set in the heart of the beautiful Cotswolds, the 226 offers a great iron distance event. A swim at the fantastic Lake 32 in the Cotswold Water Park, a fast and scenic 56 mile bike course, followed by a part trail run course around the lake.
For the weekend option you can choose to do the swim event on the Saturday, the bike course on Sunday or, like me, both!
The swim took place at 4pm in the afternoon and the conditions were great. Lake 32 was, as usual, clear and clean to swim in. The course is 1.2 miles and you can choose to do one or two laps for the full or half iron swim distance. I opted for the 2 lap 2.4 miler. Lining up against the other swimmers had the feel that the Cotswold 226 is famous for. Friendly, encouraging and inspiring sums up the outlook of most of the competitors that you will meet.
After the swim briefing the starters whistle went and everybody just seemed to find ‘their patch of water’. Such a welcome swim start in comparison to some of the water based boxing matches you can encounter.
The course was well marked with large yellow buoys. Sighting was fine and there were always enough feet to follow too! While you’re not going to get much marshal support on a swim a note has to go to the support crew at the water exit. Big cheers and an even bigger help out of the water was waiting for us. Times were available instantly once you’d finish and the all important event medal polished off that awesome post iron swim feeling.
Next up it was the sportive style bike on Sunday. I arrived at the car park early to watch the swim start of the main triathlon. Once the triathlon is underway you could choose to start the Cotswold 226 bike sportive between 6.30am and 7.30am. The start is the same course entry point that the triathlon uses so feels very much a part of the epic event.
Once off, the course is well signed and road surfaces were mainly smooth. The usual chip timing takes care of your time result, which works perfectly as it lets you choose your distance on the fly. You can stop after one 56 mile lap or carry on for the second depending how you feel at the time.
The bike route is also very scenic. There are some great little villages on route. Make sure you look out for the traditional red telephone box and thatch roofs around half way. On the journey you’re also well supported by the feed stations. I don’t know how the organisers do it but the Cotswold 226 always attracts such awesome marshals. Stopping for a banana, fresh water bottle and energy bar / gel is a pleasure when it’s served up by such smiley encouraging people.
There were a few undulations to get out of the saddle for yet nothing near proper climbing territory. If you want to perfect your aero bar speed position over a long distance this is the course to test it out on.
Being part of the main triathlon was also really inspiring. The sportive riders get red numbers and the triathlon participants black numbers. I really enjoyed giving the triathlon guys and gals as much encouragement as I could to help them with their amazing challenge.
As a stand alone event the bike sportive was fun and recommended. As a longer distance triathlon training event it’s a must, and also a perfect introduction for the iron distance novice. If you’re not sure if you could tackle the main Cotswold 226 I’d definitely recommend giving the weekend option a go. You’d be surprised at how inspiring the whole event is.
Without that many miles in my legs I did the one lap bike option. Picking up my second medal of the weekend still had me feeling a real part of the achievements taking place. As a previous Cotswold 226 triathlon finisher the weekend event is also the perfect way to continue participating in this great event without having to do the huge volumes of training.
The Cotswold 226 is a must do for me each year, regarding of which one of it’s options I do. I’ll hope to see you on the start line in the future.