Race Review: Cotswold 113

The Cotswold 113 has been running for a number of years now and is definitely a firm favourite amongst triathletes partly due to its flat fast course. Set in the Heart of the picturesque Cotswolds, race HQ is situated at the well known Lake 32 in the centre of Ashton Keynes water park.  The race is run by DB Max who is an established event organiser, running a number of events along the M4 corridor (see my review of the Brecon Titan).  DB Max also hosts two other large triathlons from the same location during other times of the year, including the Cotswold 226 (full distance) and Cotswold Classic which is basically the same race as the 113 but held a couple of months later.

The Cotswold 113 is run over middle distance with a 1.9 mile swim, circa 56 mile bike ride and a half marathon (13.1 miles) run.  There is often some debate over the distance of the bike leg as it normally comes in shorter than 56 miles, but is still within acceptable parameters.  The event can also be entered as a relay of 3 ensuring the race is accessible by a larger audience, if weaker in one particular discipline.

Registration for the event is normally the day before which can cause some headache if coming from afar, but friends and family are able to collect the race pack for you with authorisation.  Registration is open between 12 and 5pm with a small expo of companies there promoting their wares.  I have done the event a couple of times and always stay near Swindon in one of the hotels on the M4.  From the M4, the water park is roughly 20mins away, there are hotels and camping facilities closer to race HQ for those not wanting to commute too far on the morning.  Ultimately the Cotswolds are renowned for its tourism so finding accommodation is never difficult if you are well prepared.

On the day of the race, transition is open from 4.00am with the car park opening 30 minutes prior to that.  There is plenty of parking but get there early if you want a prime spot so you can shuffle back to your car after the race.  There is a cost for parking which in previous years was £5 but in 2017 this did increase to £10 due to new owners of the land where the car park is.  DB Max is hopeful of reducing this in the future or finding alternative parking.  There is parking for spectators coming in additional vehicles, and probably at a later time, which is roughly a 10 min walk away from the start/finish and transition (cost £3).

Since the race has an early start of 6am, transition closes at 5.45am with the first race briefing at 5.50am.  The race is set off in waves with 10 minutes between each group, giving time for the group in front to clear and the race organiser to brief the next wave.  In previous years there has been up to 8 waves, and the organisers will try to accommodate you if you want to race with friends and club members. 

As mentioned the swim takes please in Lake 32 and is a one lap swim going anticlockwise.  As the wave numbers are low you don’t get the jostling you normally find at a mass start.  Depending on the weather in the weeks leading up to the event, the water level and temperature can vary.  In 2015 we almost had a wetsuit ban and the water level was low due to warm weather.  The exit of the swim is slippery but there are marshals there to help you get out of the water and up the banking.  The transition area is on grass so your feet don’t take a hammering running to your bike which is probably less than 25 meters away.

The bike leg consists of a flat 2 lap course with one small hill (120ft climb) which isn’t anything to worry about (even though I saw people pushing their bikes up it).  The course is on closed roads with a couple of nasty sharp turns and one narrow section with restricted overtaking, but these are well sign posted and the marshals are normally superb telling you what is coming up.  There are two aid stations on the course at roughly 25 and 50 miles offering an array of liquid and solid fuel.

This is a very fast course which I averaged 21/22mph on, bearing in mind cycling is definitely my weakest discipline.  Entry back into transition is a simple affair with the run course setting you off around the lake.  The 3 lap run course is a mixture of surfaces but mainly off road/trail and totally flat.  It can be slippery in parts if wet so you need to watch your footing, and I do wonder if athletes would benefit from trail trainers.  Something to consider if the weather conditions are wet.

You run past the finish line twice before the final sprint (maybe shuffle) on the 3rd lap with plenty of support along this stretch.  The good thing is that transition is close to the finish so collecting your gear afterwards is straight forward.

Verdict:  I personally think this is a fantastic race and well organised.  You have to be disciplined to ensure you leave something for the run as the temptation is to go hell for leather on the bike.  I have done this race twice before and will be returning to try and break the 5hr barrier.

DB MAX Cotswold 113 website

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