Now in its 27th year, the Nuffield Health Royal Windsor Triathlon has taken on a more regal feel for 2017, which promises to take an already fantastic event to new heights.
This was my first Olympic distance triathlon last year and definitely what inspired me to pursue triathlon further. Looking back now, it brings a smile to my face thinking about how woefully prepared I was! Borrowing most of my kit meant it was an awful fit, leading to chafing during the swim, having to borrow a pump during the cycle and horrific blisters on the run (honestly I didn’t wear shoes for about a month afterwards!).
2017 then has brought with it a lot of changes. I have been fitted for a wetsuits appropriate to my swimming ability, always pack a spare inner tube, tyre levers and CO2 whilst racing, but most importantly have a sensational fitting pair of On Running Cloudflash shoes.
Improvements in my kit have have inspired a greater willingness to train. It’s amazing how much more prepared you are to go for a swim if you know your wetsuit isn’t going to rub you raw, or if you are confident that you will be able to walk immediately after a run! To track the improvements from my increased commitment I have also invested in the latest Garmin Forerunner 935 GPS Watch, and what a tool it is.
The improvements over last year's Forerunner 735XT leaves you scratching your head as to how the boffins at Garmin manage to make such technological advances in just 12 months? In fact, there are so many interesting new details on this watch that it justifies a stand alone review...stay tuned.
Back to the race though, and, despite being a seven-time winner of the British Triathlon Federation’s event of the year prize, much more than just the name has changed for this year.
Staying the same though is the unusual registration process. This takes place on the Saturday before the event and this year is even timetabled by surname. You might think this inconvenient, but it actually provides the perfect opportunity to check/organise your bike with enough time to source spares/do any running repairs. It also ensures you have plenty of time to enjoy the event village and obviously pay our stand a visit for those last minute essentials or to check out some of the latest and greatest kit from Garmin, On Running and Trek to name but a few.
Also carrying over from last year is the 1500m swim course (750m Sprint). This starts with a long battle against the stream to the turnaround point before a past dash to the exit. Pacing is key, as is allowing enough time to get to the start situated a ten-minute walk away from transition. You don’t want to be jogging there in your wetsuit as I was last year! Don’t forget to also allow time for the briefing, therefore target arriving about 10-15 minutes before your start time.
Following T1, the changes for 2017 become evident, although the 325m run from T1 to bike mount remains. From there the 41km route (19km Sprint) takes you out in the same direction as last year (along the road I punctured on sadly) with the difference being where the additional lap is added for the Olympic route. This year, you loop back on yourself to rejoin the A308 before heading straight re-passing the turning point to return to transition. Thankfully, the fast downhill along the A332 remains and provides a great opportunity to fuel up for the run.
Probably the most exciting change is to the run with the incorporation of The Long Walk taking you on a striking route into Windsor Great Park. If this isn’t enough to motivate you to keep pushing on, then nothing will be! Keeping count of your laps will be the biggest challenge on this course with the striking surroundings drawing your attention. This would be a great place for spectators to capture an iconic picture.
To ensure you are able to make the most of this stunning course, there are some key rules to keep in mind. A likely stumbling block is your helmet. Everyone must have one, you can’t touch your bike until your helmet is fastened and can’t remove it until your bike is re-racked following the cycle. Simple enough, but in the heat of competition such details can easily slip you by.
Other than this, the easiest areas for mistakes are probably drafting and mount/dismount line fouls. Therefore, it is well worth familiarising yourself with these areas of the course beforehand, as well as the BTF rules linked to from the Human Race Event Guide.
Once finished, Human Race deliver one of my favourite race features; a text with your times straight to your phone the moment you cross the line! This allows for instant analysis whilst you rehydrate with an Erdinger, collect your medal and recover with the help of SIS and the event village food stands. Don’t forget to come back on the Sunday to let us know how you got on, replace any lost/damaged kit and drool over the next upgrade you’ll be making to go faster next year! Good luck.