Tucked away in one of the most beautiful corners of Wales, where the River Gwaun meets the sea, you’ll find Fishguard, a fishing village that is becoming a popular holiday destination in North Pembrokeshire.
But it’s also the perfect setting for a fast but challenging middle distance race – Challenge Wales – which is also gaining in popularity.
Location – Pembrokeshire beauty
Enjoy the feeling of being a million miles from anywhere, but Fishguard is surprising well connected so if you are keen to avoid the car its two railway stations connect to Swansea, Cardiff (including the airport) and onward connection.
However you decide to travel allow yourself plenty of travel time or make a long weekend of it. And it’s worth spending some extra time in this beautiful part of Wales. Challenge Wales will get you up close and personal with the stunning coastal beauty and history of North Pembrokeshire as you race through Britain’s only Coastal National Park.
The teepee race village which is home to registration and both T1 and T2, is handily set up on the seafront between Fishguard and its twin town of Goodwick. It’s also just metres from the swim course in Fishguard Bay, a sheltered harbour protected on either side by a breakwater which famously held back the French during The Last Invasion of Britain in 1797.
THE VOICE OF EXPERIENCE
Close to the race village you’ll find plenty of accommodation to suit all budgets and styles from self-catered holiday cottages, award winning guesthouses to comfortable hotels and B&Bs. Slightly further afield are several camping and caravan sites.
As you’d expect fish and chip shops – try Hooked @31 in Fishguard – and for any last minute bike issues, visit Mikes Bikes in nearby Haverfordwest.
And to add to the feel-good factor, you’ll be racing in this stunning part of the UK knowing part of your race entry fee is donated to the Sea Trust Wales, a conservation trust aimed at protecting the local marine life.
Course – breathtaking views
This race should suit all levels. The swim course inside a sheltered bay will help weaker sea swimmers and with limited climbing on the bike, and a flat run, more experienced triathletes could be on for a PB.
SWIM – 1.2 miles
The locals will give you a loud and lively send off as you race into the sheltered, calm waters of Fishguard Bay, which is protected on both sides by a breakwater. You swim an out and back loop then it’s a quick run along the seafront to more cheering before re-entering the sea for the second and final lap. Then it’s a quick dash into T1.
Given the Atlantic’s slight chill, wetsuits are mandatory so it’s worth training in cold open water to acclimatise yourself.
BIKE – 56 miles
This year the two lap course is fully closed to traffic which is a massive bonus and will allow riders to safely enjoy the spectacular views of Pembrokeshire Coast National Park without having to dodge any Sunday drivers.
The out-and-back bike course along the A487 begins with a steady 3km ascent allowing athletes to fuel, before a fast section towards St Davids, Wales’ smallest city. The turnaround point is just before St David’s and athletes will complete this twice before returning to T2.
RUN – 13.1 miles
If you feel the need for speed, you’ll love the practically flat four lap run that takes you all along the paved sea front track and out on to the breakwater and back where you’ll experience some of the most breathtaking sea views on the circuit.
Two small climbs should add even more interest before crossing the red carpet for a classic Challenge finish line to some very enthusiastic cheering from the locals.
Spectators – spoilt for choice
Wherever your friends and family position themselves on the course, there will always be an amazing view of the sea or countryside.
Otherwise there are plenty of cheering spots where they can join the crowds and soak up the brilliant atmosphere.
The Parrog, the beach front road, in between Fishguard and Goodwick is a great place to watch the swim and transitions as well as soak up the fantastic festival atmosphere of the Race Village and red carpet finish line.
The Ocean Lab Aquarium is just a stone’s throw away to while away the time in between cheering otherwise there are plenty of watering holes and eateries in Fishguard and Goodwick to keep everyone fed and watered.
As well as it’s stunning scenery, one of the best features of this memorable bike course is it’s on completely closed roads – just you, the Welsh countryside and the enthusiastic Welsh supporters!
Why race Challenge Wales
RACE-cation – enjoy the great outdoors
Make the most of your time in this beautiful part of the world, pre or post race, to further explore the natural beauty and history of the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park.
If you are a lover of wildlife and the great outdoors then Fishguard makes the perfect base for an activity- filled holiday whether travelling solo or with the family.
In the historical fishing village itself, its narrow streets and alleyways are packed with historic buildings, some dating back to the 17th century and among them you’ll find a market hall, craft shops, pubs, cafes and restaurants.
In the Town Hall you’ll find a tapestry depicting the Last Invasion of Britain where 1400 French soldiers invaded the coastline in 1797 only to be held back by the breakwater and surrender two days later!
Rainy day or not, the Ocean Lab Aquarium near the harbour, Fishguard Fort or the Hangar 5 Trampoline Park in nearby Haverfordwest will keep kids or adults alike entertained.
The county really is hikers’ heaven with the Coastal Path stretching miles along the Pembrokeshire coast.
You can easily hop on and off local buses along the route to take in the mindblowing sea views and rather lungbusting hills, watch the incredible marine life on the expansive beaches or even get back in your wetsuit for some surfing.
Or if you fancy getting the bike out again, follow the Sustrans Celtic Trail West and Lon Teifi Trail out of Fishguard for more chances to see the area or get some big air and even bigger grins on the mountain bike trails at The Stackpole Estate near Pembroke.