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The Outlaw brand has become a mainstay of the UK triathlon scene over the last decade, with four permanent races now on the calendar across the half and full distance. But for many, despite the popularity of the North Norfolk and North Nottinghamshire events that run under the same name, THE Outlaw is the original and best.
It’s a testament to the commitment that Outlaw inspires that there remain a select few athletes that have completed every single edition of every single Outlaw race at every distance since its inception!
The OSB team, much like the races they produce, have also become well known on the race circuit, and this only helps the races improve year on year, as they’re on the ground at every event, talking with the athletes and taking it all in.
But what of the race? Why this race over other long distance events? What is the secret sauce that keeps triathletes coming back time and again, and helps first timers conquer their maiden half and full distance races, eager to hear those now famous words… YOU ARE AN OUTLAW!
Location - Midland convenience
Set around the 2km World Class rowing facility at Nottingham’s Holme Pierrepont National Watersports Centre, The Outlaw consistently ranks top of race experience lists due to its varied course, fantastic support, ease of access and first class event management.
The venue in the East Midlands also plays a big part in its endearing success. Easily accessible from most of the country, with several major motorways and an Airport within 20 minutes of the lake and transition area, it’s one of the most well connected and easily accessible races in the UK.
Just ten minutes from the city centre means there are plenty of accommodation options and amenities within easy reach. Hotels from the functional, such as the Travelodge and Premier Inn nearby, through to offerings like the Hilton Double Tree and the Lace Market Hotel for athletes looking for a more refined experience.
For a large proportion of athletes, especially those in teams and groups, the best value is the onsite campsite, literally yards from the action. It’s a great way to reduce race morning travel nerves, and the post-race party goes long into the wee hours as athletes make their weary way back with their medals and smiles (or grimaces!) Make sure you book early though, as it sells out every year without fail.
Course - flat & fast
It would be remiss to talk about The Outlaw without mentioning the aid stations. As well as providing the essentials and being well stocked and frequent, every year the OSB crew recruit clubs, teams and sports groups to ‘take over’ each aid station. Expect singing, dancing, fancy dress and generally epic encouragement. Be warned, they get LOUD (looking at you, pirates!)
Swim - 2.4 MILES
A very simple course in the main regatta lake makes for effortless navigating. Love or hate it, athletes start in a relatively rare mass start - fast athletes start left, slower in the middle, slowest right or at the back. The orientation of the lake can also mean stunning pre-race sunrises, which is great if you’ve packed a nice dark lens goggle, a nightmare if they’re clear. You’ve been warned! The lake is relatively shallow so does tend to warm quickly but it's almost always wetsuit mandatory.
BIke - 112 MILES
After heading out of T1, a quick lap of the lake gives you a chance to adjust your shoes or helmet, get some nutrition in and get settled for the course. With some closed road sections keeping the athletes safe as they move away from the city, it quickly becomes a fast and rolling tour of the Nottinghamshire countryside, with fantastic support at key points along the way. With only 1 climb to speak of, it's a day for your fast kit, expect to see lots of skinsuits, carbon fibre, pointy helmets and disc wheels among the fastest athletes. The now infamous return into the National Watersports venue will test the handling skills of even the most accomplished cyclists! A hard right and into transition via the event village means a chance to wave at your support team as you prepare to head out on the run.
Run - 26.2 MILES
Having been through several evolutions over the years, it does tend to be tweaked slightly after each edition. Several despair-inducing laps around the never ending rowing lake in the early days gave way to an out and back section along the Trent River Path towards the City Ground, breaking up the monotony of the asphalt. More recently it has taken athletes through some of the less ventured areas of the Holme Pierrepont nature reserve, alongside the whitewater rafting course and up and over some deceptively sapping small climbs. Make sure you add some running on grass into your training as you’ll invariably need it.
The host venue is really well set up for large scale events, and as such is a great place for your supporters to spend the day. As well as the facilities within the Water Sports centre itself, cafe, toilets, viewing area and so on, the tiered finish line seating area gives a literal grandstand view of the orange carpet and the finish line. Set alongside the bike in and transition area is the event village, with a range of triathlon brands showcasing the latest kit, and a great place to snag a bargain or a last minute essential, think tubes, race belt or nutrition.
As most of the bike course is on open roads, organisers discourage spectators from driving on the course except for an early exit to a designated spectator point where you can see your athlete up to three times. There are a few well known spectator locations that are great fun, but you may only see your athlete once, so it can be an unnecessary hassle. Expect lots of supporters around Southwell if you do venture out on the day.
If you would like to keep the family active the event weekend includes a children’s run (age 4-15) and an Aquathlon (age 15+) on the Saturday, whilst kids can join the main event on the Sunday by accompanying racers down the finish line, which makes for a wonderful family photo.
Head to the city
For a really fun experience for the family, Penny Lane offers great food set in a kitsch, vintage style restaurant alongside a collection of retro video games. The Olde Trip to Jerusalem, cut into the rock below the Castle, purports to be the oldest Inn in the country and is steeped in history, definitely worth a visit.
The newly revamped Nottingham Castle, perched high above the city is a great place to visit before or after the race, with brand new exhibits and a Robin Hood themed adventure park. Check out the City of Caves attraction and learn about the huge network of carved sandstone caves beneath the city that for hundreds of years have been used variously as homes, cellars, pubs and even air raid shelters.
Race-cation - Robin Hood anyone?
As well as all that the city of Nottingham has to offer, Alton Towers Theme Park is around 45 minutes away, White Post Farm is fantastic for younger family members, and head north of the city to visit the real Sherwood Forest.
See the Major Oak, where legend has it Robin Hood himself would meet with his Merry Men, the Rufford Abbey Country Park and the East Midlands Center Parcs, perfect for post-race relaxation. Right next door is the Sherwood Pines Adventure Centre, hosting themed play parks, Go Ape high ropes course, segway hire and a huge mountain biking centre.
There’s also a beautiful parkrun at this venue if your supporters fancy stretching their legs before the big day.