I spent my first 18 years in Swansea and with lots of friends and family living there this early evening race has been on my ‘to do’ list for a while. It is run by Activity Wales Events rather than a club and has an open water 750m swim, 20k bike ride on closed roads, and 5k run .
My race didn’t start until 5.15pm but registration was from 10.00am at the National Waterfront Museum. I was handed a bag containing a yellow hat (Wave 3), my ankle chip, some jelly beans and some marketing material from The University of St David’s. T shirts were extra. I had also had to sign an agreement to say that I would pay £65 if I lost my ankle chip. On the plus side the museum (free entry) contains some interesting bits and pieces (Copper Industry- Coal from the Valleys – The Blitz – Rebuilding) and is worth a wander through. I made some enquiries about parking during the race and was directed to the numerous multi storey car parks in the city centre.
My next task was to check out the course. The swim was in the Prince of Wales Dock and in my childhood this was a place of horror… a deserving end for children who ‘wandered off’ from their parents and fell into the dark waters, similarly deserving for teenagers partying in the shabbier areas of the city (I always partied at the more select Oystermouth). Today however the area has been smartened up and because of the eruption of a cluster of ‘luxury apartment blocks ‘ it took me a few minutes with the satnav to locate it.
I wandered back to the transition area across the lovely sail bridge and discovered that the transition area had opened at 2.00pm and would be closed again at 3.00pm. I had to unpack the car stow my car key and be ready to swim in less than 15 minutes. I then had a couple of hours to wait before my race started.
The swim in the docks turned out to be the best part of the race. We set off in 4 waves with 15 minutes between each, the elites first (white hats), then first timers (pink hats) and then everyone else(yellow and green hats). Around 1000 competitors took part. The water was pleasantly cool, sheltered from the wind and with no currents.
We exited the dock and then had a run/walk through the café area and back over the sail bridge to transition. The bike course was made up of three laps … two miles east, sharp U-turn, two miles back, sharp U turn, repeat, repeat. A few ‘elites’ were already returning to transition as I was going out but the majority of the 1000 competitors were all on the bike course at the same time in a manic cycling merry-go-round, the faster riders powering through on the right and more cautious ones and newbies sticking closer to the kerb.
The run course took us out around the Marina and again through some café areas (between the tables at one point) then up some steps and out along the sea front. The many marshalls on the course were are friendly and encouraging, shouting out our names from our run numbers. Another sharp U -turn and we were heading back to the city centre. We crossed the Mumbles road via a flyover bridge and then into the main shopping precinct. I saw an inflatable arch and started my final sprint, but once through it discovered that I had a further 100m of red carpet to run across before the finish line where I was given a nice chunky medal and a bottle of water (but no banana).