24 January 2022
| THE HEARTBEAT OF WOMEN'S SPORT

Race review: The Nokia Windsor Triathlon

July 12, 2010

Nicola Joyce reviews the Nokia Windsor Triathlon for Sportsister, an event which involved a 1500m swim, 42km bike ride and a 10km run.

windsor-triathlonThere’s a reason the Windsor Triathlon has won the British Triathlon Federation’s “Event of the Year” seven times. It’s truly iconic; the swim is in our capital’s river, in the shadow of Windsor Castle. The bike climbs and descends through Windsor Great Park, and the run loops around Windsor Castle and Eton Bridge. Even the transition area is epic, large enough to house 2,500 bikes and an illustration of just how popular this key event in the triathlon calendar has become.

This year was the 20th anniversary of the Windsor Triathlon, and I was lucky enough to have secured a place thanks to Sportsister and Human Race, the event’s organisers. Although I train for triathlon all year round, I hadn’t had enough time to fine-tune my training for the distance. I went into the race with one goal, to finish. Anything else would be a bonus!

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More event reviews:

Race review: Caledonia Etape

Ironmum blog

Win a fee entry to the DEXTRO ENERGY Triathlon in Budapest

Race review: The Better Half

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Pre-Event

The event is so huge that registration and bike racking (placing your bike in its numbered spot in transition) has to take place on the previous day. Race day is an early start (like all triathlons). My wave (swim group) was to set off at the ungodly hour of 6:20am! So, by 5am on that Sunday morning I was awake and eating breakfast. By 5:30am I was walking to transition to set up my bike kit- running shoes, energy gels, race belt and other triathlon paraphernalia – in precise order underneath my bike.

windsor-triathlon-swim

With 20 minutes to go, I shoehorned myself into my wetsuit and tiptoed over the road and down the towpath in bare feet. Swans and geese were hanging out at the water’s edge and I could only hope they’d move before my swim start set off.

The Course

I love open-water swimming, but found the swim tough, partly because I simply hadn’t trained enough and partly because the outward leg of the 1500m swim is against the river’s current. I lost some time going off-course and getting tangled up with other swimmers (at one point I actually stopped swimming to let one woman through as she seemed intent on swimming into my armpit).

But, once I turned around the buoy, the going was easier as we were with the current. However, by now, the low morning sun (it wasn’t yet 7am!) was directly in front of us. Three of the following waves zoomed past me and I knew this was far from my finest hour! After 31 minutes, I was out and running up the steps, across the road, and through the park to the transition area.

windsor-triathlon-transitio

Off with the wetsuit, on with the bike helmet, sunglasses, race number and bike shoes and I ran out of transition with my bike. I was looking forward to the 42km bike course, having grown to love biking over the past year. Sure enough, my bike and I had a fine time over the next 1 hour 23 minutes, overtaking faster swimmers, cruising up hills and reaching more than 35mph on the down hills. The route is beautiful, going through some of Berkshire’s prettiest villages and finally climbing up to Windsor Great Park and descending back into Windsor town centre.

I struggled in T2, my fingers were so cold that I couldn’t undo the clip on my bike helmet. Eventually I was out of my helmet and bike shoes, putting my run shoes on and jogging out of transition onto the 10km run course. I had no expectations for the run, knowing that I hadn’t done nearly as much training as I would have wanted.

I remembered the advice to keep pushing on up the short sharp hill up to Windsor Castle (even by the third time round) and not to lose too much time on each of the nine dead turns. My run could have been faster, but I was pleased to hold 8 minute-miling and was still passing women from my wave. I managed a bit of a sprint finish to cross the line in 2:50:26.

windsor-triathlon-2

Would I do it again?

Absolutely. It’s a wonderful event that’s local enough for me to be able to train on the route.

Good points

Fantastic organisation.

Great heritage to the event – it’s a “must-do” triathlon.

The chance to see the elites racing (they started just as I finished).

Beautiful backdrop of the Thames, Windsor Castle and Eton.

Gorgeous (and fairly fast) bike course.

Lots of spectator support.

Any negatives?

A very early start.

The current in the Thames can be strong.

The transition area is large and the distance between the swim and transition long (adding to your time).

Run course is a love-it or hate-it multi-lap affair.

What’s next?

The Marketing Industry triathlon, 2nd July at Dorney rowing lake (another Human Race event).

Nicola Joyce, Sportsister
The Women’s Sports Magazine

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