While the name of Coimbra may not be the first to spring to mind when thinking of cities in Portugal, same time ago (well, between 1130 and 1260…), it was once the capital of the country.
The introduction of the Multisport Weekend Coimbra could, perhaps, make the name increasingly familiar to triathletes over time. The event took place last week, and as part of the two day festival included the first edition of the European Triathlon Cup Coimbra, which was won by Great Britain’s Sophia Green.
The event however is far more than an Elite race, and with huge thanks to Kate Taylor – a Portugal-based British triathlon coach and athlete – you can find out more about what’s on offer.
While international travel is not at the top of most of our lists right now, if you want to consider a European destination in conjunction with your triathlon goals away from the usual suspect events, it sounds like the Multisport Weekend Coimbra could have something to offer you when it returns next year.
Check out Kate’s report below, where she also gets some thoughts on the venue from Sophie Green and Cameron Main, the top finishing Brits in the Elite race.
Multisport Weekend Coimbra & 2021 Europe Triathlon Cup
On the weekend of June 12 and 13, Coimbra hosted a brand new multisport event. Amongst the races on offer were Sprint, Middle Distance, and Full Distance triathlons, Middle Distance Duathlon, and Aquabike. The event also staged the 2021 Europe Triathlon Cup and the Portuguese National Long Distance Championship.
The weather provided very different conditions for the elite race on the Saturday morning to that experienced by those racing in the afternoon and on the Sunday. During the week prior to the event, athletes had been training in very hot and dry conditions with the temperature forecast to be around 32°C for the weekend. During the night before there was a big storm and the heavy rain lasted throughout the morning. Whilst it was good to be racing in cooler temperatures than had been expected, the rain was the first for several weeks, and changed the road conditions. Several athletes in the morning elite’s race lost control of their bikes, though none with serious injuries. By the afternoon it was back to being hot.
I caught up after the weekend with British elite athletes Cameron Main and Sophia Green and age-group athlete Ian Taylor (easy to catch as he’s also my husband!), to find out how they had found their respective experiences of racing in Coimbra. As it was the first time the race had run, I was interested to know how they had found the course.
Cameron and Sophia placed highest of the 11 British athletes competing. Sophia gained her first win and Cameron placed 10th. They and the other athletes are pleased to be able to be back on start lines. The Covid testing before the race allowed them to feel safe and it was noted that spectators and race personnel were all wearing masks around the course. Both are focussed on gaining points and qualifying for future championship goals which include the Europe Triathlon Sprint and Relay Championships Kitzbühel, the World Triathlon Championship Finals Edmonton, and the 2022 Commonwealth Games.
Asked about the Coimbra course, both were very enthusiastic about the experience of the swim in the river, the Mondego which runs through the city, which they described as new and interesting in comparison with the more usual sea or lake swims. They found the bike course to be “quick” and “technical”. The experience of riding over the two bridges, one of which allowed for a fast descent with a requirement for getting optimal position into a roundabout. The run was “interesting”, again with the experience of two bridges to cross and the view along the Mondego which they allow. The word they both used repeatedly was “cool”: the course, the city, and the experience of racing there. The question of whether they would recommend the course to others next year was responded to with a resounding yes.
These sentiments were backed up by Ian who raced in the afternoon’s age-group Sprint Distance. Ian has raced for 32 years at all levels, over all distances, at races around Europe and further afield, including at age-group World Championship level. He found the event to be friendly and well organised with enthusiastic support from both staff and police personnel maintaining the closed roads on the bike course. He described the course as fast and an opportunity to achieve a good time with a well-thought out race plan. He proved that with a first place finish in his age- group. He will be back!
We returned on the Sunday to watch some of the Middle Distance and Full Distance races. The courses offer the potential for a fast time for athletes to achieve Personal Bests in these distances.
Multisport Weekend Coimbra will be back in 2022. Will you be there?
I am a coach and an age-group triathlete competing in both on and off-road triathlons. I coach alongside my husband, also a coach, delivering bespoke online coaching plans for cyclists and triathletes, and running small training camps at our venue in central Portugal.
Kate Taylor BSc – British Cycling, British Triathlon, & IRONMAN Coach; Sports Specialist Yoga Teacher; Personal Trainer