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IRONMAN Wales: Course Guide and Tips

Chief Correspondent

IRONMAN Wales – Sunday 10th September 2017

Part two of our feature on IRONMAN Wales (race website) – see part one HERE – today we take a look at the race course.

We’ve also spoken to Lucy Gossage, the winner of the race in 2013 to get her tips and advice on making the best of your race. Lucy will be back in Tenby again on 10th September to aim for win number two at IRONMAN Wales – and if you want to join her, you can still enter HERE.



The North Beach in Tenby hosts a quite spectacular setting for the IRONMAN Wales swim, providing a natural amphitheatre of spectators and families to watch the opening segment of IRONMAN Wales.

Photo by Jordan Mansfield/Getty Images for Ironman

The two-lap swim features an ‘Australian exit’ at the end of lap one, when athletes will round Goscar Rock before heading back into the water for lap two. For those of you who are fans of Grand Designs (like me!), look out for the renovated Lifeboat Station which was a memorable feature of the show. You can watch that one HERE.

Of particular note is what awaits when you exit the water for the second time… perhaps the longest run to T1 of any race on the IRONMAN circuit? Be prepared for that one! Age Group athlete will begin using the Rolling Start approach that is now common at many IRONMAN races around the world.


Swim course advice from 2013 Champion, Lucy Gossage:

“As a sea swim, the water can be quite choppy so maintaining a high cadence / stroke turnover can be beneficial and efficient. While always dependent on the water conditions and tides, I typically find the times on the swim in Tenby to be slightly slow, so I would strongly suggest not worrying about that. If you come out of the water and see a slower time than you were expecting, don’t be concerned or let it impact your race.

“The key part of the swim is arguably the transition from it, to get to the bike! With the swim taking place at North Beach, there is around a 1km run/walk from the swim exit, up the ramp to the road level and then to the main transition in town. I would strongly recommend that you take advantage of the additional facility relative to other events, to be able to run this section in trainers (with elastic laces). You will therefore need an extra pair which you can leave in the dedicated bag / numbered rack provided. These shoes will be in addition to the shoes you will be running the marathon in later. Because this section is so long, you can actually make (or lose) quite a lot of time here. For me, as a weaker swimmer, I’d rather take the swim slightly easier, exit fresh and then make up time on the ‘run’, than really push the swim hard and than struggle with that ‘extra run’ section. It is worth checking out this section in the days before the race.”

BIKE COURSE (Bike course GPS)

Featuring almost 2,500metres of net totalling climbing over its 112 miles, the IRONMAN Wales course is unlikely to offer PB potential – but it will provide some wonderful sights, if you have the energy and focus to enjoy then. The course comprises of one large loop (of just under 70 miles), and then a smaller loop (which repeats the latter parts of the first loop).


Bike course advice from 2013 Champion, Lucy Gossage:

‘The bike course really is great. The first advice is to really cap your effort on the hills. Lots of people really blow their race by going too hard on the first hills. Despite the hills, and if you have the option, I do think that a TT bike is faster than a road bike on this course, though you may well have to consider changing your cassette to provide some easier gears. While you have the ups, there are plenty of opportunities to be aero on the course too.

“The course is one of the toughest on the circuit, it’s slower than Bolton for example, and that has an impact on nutrition – because you will be ‘out there’ for longer, so will need more calories. You do all of the main hills on the bike twice… and the steepest is right at the end of the loop!”


The run course comprises of four laps, in and around the town of Tenby – which will guarantee that you have fantastic support on the final stage of the event.


Run course advice from 2013 Champion, Lucy Gossage:

“If you take a look at the profile of the course is roughly works out as one mile ‘up’, two miles ‘undulating’ and one mile ‘down’… and then repeat four times. If there is one thing to prepare for, it is PRACTICE HILLS!!!

“I would give some thought to how you are going to get your nutrition in. I know for example that if I try and eat on the downhill sections I tend to get a stitch, so I plan in advance to eat at the bottom. If you can, try and find some training routes to mimic the nature of the course (that’s what I’m doing on my long run today!). Try and relax on the downhills (where you get some ‘free’ speed), and expect to have to work harder on the uphills. The training is important because the differing terrain impacts different muscle groups than for example doing all your running on a canal towpath.

“The support from the crowds, especially through the town sections is incredible – though bear in mind that the there is a slightly uphill finish, so try and avoid a sprint-finish if you can!”

Photo by Jordan Mansfield/Getty Images for Ironman


“The support for IRONMAN Wales really is amazing. Tenby truly welcomes the event, the post-race fish & chip shops are great (!) and it truly is one of my favourite locations to race at. It’s not a PB course – you might well be an hour or more slower than you would on a ‘fast’ course – but it’s a great event. In terms of weather, as with most UK events, be prepared for anything in terms of kit. If it is cold, well, you may need to consume a few more calories.”


For more on IRONMAN Wales and to enter for 2017, visit

John Levison
Written by
John Levison
TRI247's Chief Correspondent, John has been involved in triathlon for well over 30 years, 15 of those writing on these pages, whilst he can also be found commentating for events across the UK.
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