This race is epic. Clearly I'm not the only one who thinks so, as entries for this years race sold out in record time. Back in 2007, only two months after my first triathlon, I made the journey to the west country to 'race' at Wimbleball. Really, there was no racing involved on my part, mainly just getting slugging my way to the finish. That day I finished in just over 6:30 and had he time of my life. Fast forward two years to 2009 and I returned, finishing in 5:10 (after two punctures on the bike). Last year I was a DNS (did not start), as I made the difficult decision to focus on Ironman Austria; a decision which ultimately proved to be a good one.
This is a course that has a number of challenging elements to it, on the swim, bike, run, and even the transitions! If you're lucky, on race morning there'll be no fog and you'll start on time, unlike in 2009! Once you've finished the 1.9k swim, welcome to the most hellish hill in transition history, and it's a case of more of the same. As soon as you jump on the bike you start climbing. The two loop course is a case of two halves, the first of which is relatively benign, but the second of which makes up for it and then some! Hill, after hill, after hill. It's difficult to find a rhythm on the bike, but ultimately the smart and patient rider is rewarded. Pace the bike well and you'll give yourself a chance of running well, but if you attack the bike leg then you may be humbled for the 21k run. Don't be surprised to see people pushing their bikes up the 14% gradient! Never has the advice save some for the run been as appropriate as it is for this course. The three loop run course comprises of different surfaces throughout: tarmac, gravel, dirt and grass. There are some particularly nice views by the damn, which might take your mind off the pain. As with the bike course, hills are the order of the day.
To all athletes racing Wimbleball this weekend, good luck, and enjoy the experience. This is truly one of the most testing Half-Ironman distance races in the world, and to finish alone is a great achievement. Fingers crossed for sunny skies.