One of the staple events now on the UKs multi sport calendar is the Long Course Weekend where every July since 2010, Tenby in Pembrokeshire, Wales plays host to what was a unique 3 day event, but now with the addition of LCW Mallorca and Jervis Bay is a growing family. It has grown from humble beginnings to now accommodate 8500 athletes over the weekend across all 3 disciplines and many utilising it as the perfect preparation and build up to the Ironman Wales event in September.
Beth has completed the event three years on the trot and this was my second time at LCW.. There are a number of options for each discipline but to qualify for the Long Course and that elusive fourth medal you clearly have to do the full distance in each event. The weekend kicks-off on the Friday evening with The Wales Swim. There are two options a 1.2 mile and a 2.4 mile swim and it takes place on Tenby’s North Beach. The Long Course athletes have to complete 2.4 mile swim. Whilst busy coaching one thing I have been doing in recent months is swimming and the weather was perfect for the swim this year. The course is a two-lap swim, for the full distance, with a so called “Aussie exit” and goes in a clockwise direction. The first buoy was reportedly 800m away but it seemed to take forever to reach it as the current was against us. However having turned at the buoy you could really lengthen the stroke and feel a slight push “downstream. This event feels different to an Ironman branded event, with very little of the testosterone fuelled hype at the start and a much friendlier atmosphere. So straight away I liked it when I first did it. We had stayed in the same B&B in Tenby that we stayed at last year so we just walked down to the start in our wetsuit and used the bag drop for a change afterwards which was all very efficient. It was also quite nice to just do the swim and go back to the B&B rather than the thought of getting straight onto the bike.
On Saturday the attention turns to The Wales Sportive, and 112 miles of “undulating” Welsh countryside lined in parts with enthusiastic crowds. There are also shorter route options. This ride is extremely tough and some of the “undulations” are full blown hills. The weather this year was great and no sign of the rain we had last year and that made the descents much less sketchy. I rode my road bike as opposed to my Tri bike as we are off for some cycling in France after the event but there are certainly large parts where you can get nice and aero on the tri bars.
To finish the weekend, the athletes have the small task of completing the 26.2 miles of The Wales Marathon, which is quickly establishing itself as a fantastic event in its own right. There are 5k, 10k and Half Marathon options with the latter two starting after the marathon. The Half for example starts 2 hours after the marathon start so if you are quick enough you will be cheered on by those runners waiting to start the half. I had a great run last year but not so this year, the weather was warm and sunny but I just did not have the run legs and I was not alone in this. You can tell which event runners are doing by their bib colour and both spectators and other runners alike were appreciative of the Long Course athletes.
All in all I can thoroughly recommend the Long Course Weekend. It is challenging but more than that it is a well-run event with none of the drama that goes with the Ironman events, so no huge race briefing, no racking of bike or dropping of bags and it is conducted in an inclusive and friendly atmosphere. As long as the organisers keep a cap on numbers it will remain so. With the pick and choose nature of each discipline there is something here for everyone. For those doing an Ironman later in the year you could do the full swim and bike and perhaps just the 10k to save your legs for example. Entries for next year are open and if I was you I’d get on it. Lastly if I haven’t convinced you yet then perhaps the fact you get LCW branded beer in your goody bag might just do it!
If you have any more in depth questions about our experience of the event just contact us.