Long Course Weekend
Many members of the club descended on Tenby, South Wales this weekend to take part in the Long Course Weekend, a weekend of swim, bike and run. The event incorporates the Wales Swim, Wales Sportive and Wales Marathon. Entrants can select various distances at each event or opt for the Full Long Course Weekend – 2.4-mile swim Friday night, 112-mile bike ride Saturday, culminating in a marathon on the Sunday. Those completing the Full Long Course Weekend pick up the much coveted 4th medal at a ceremony at the end of the marathon.
To add to the special occasion, Alan and Emma Richards hosted many of the Rugby Triathlon Club contingent at their beautiful house just outside Tenby, and they ensured only the finest weather South Wales has to offer. This is the second year they have looked after our club members and if they had a sound-proof bunker for Matt Hayward’s snoring it would be the most perfect of weekends for everyone!
Before the main event kicked off with the Wales Swim at 7pm on Tenby’s iconic North Beach, the next generation of Rugby Triathlon Club, Oscar Smith, Leo Albon and Heidi Albon, took part in Long Course Kinder. This involved running through the sea and up the beach and through the finishing arch that their much older club mates would be running through later. Good fun for 3- and 4-year olds! The three of them loved it and it really sets the tone for the whole weekend with its inclusivity and family spirit.
The main event started at 7pm with a flurry of fireworks initiating the flood of over 2000 swimmers pouring into the bay on North Beach. With sightings of jelly fish “the size of dustbins” and the sheer number of swimmers, the 2-lap swim was frantic for all. There were some great performances from club members with many completing their first sea swim or their furthest ever swim. A great occasion to do either! A special mention for Nicola Smith who finished 3rd lady overall, she was 11s from winning £1k - and buying everyone chips afterwards!
Having had a good night’s rest, everyone climbed upon their trusty steeds and set off for the Wales Sportive. RTC athletes opted for the 70-mile “half” distance or the 112-mile full. Regardless of the distance travelled, it was anything but flat! The “hills” of Rugby do little to prepare the legs for the climbing required in South Wales. Despite three distinct and tasty hills at Freshwater West, Wisemans Bridge and Saundersfoot there were many short sharp and long dragging hills throughout the course. The course is undoubtedly a tough one to tackle.
There were upsetting scenes on Wisemans Bridge, with a rider experiencing a heart attack with two of our group being among the first responders. Their brave help, along with others, meant the man made it to hospital, a sobering moment for the day. The Wisemans Bridge hill was closed for many doing one loop but was opened again in time for the 112-mile riders to experience the relentless and steep hill towards the end of their rides.
Always one for a bit of drama, Gregory Ashely looked to be staring a DNF in the face when his rear gear cable snapped and, while trying to repair it, lost a bolt. An hour later, with help from the organisers mechanical support, they’d bodged together a fix meaning that he was now facing a race against the cut off’s, not something Gregory normally has to worry about! The cut-offs to claim the full Long Course Weekend 4th medal were tough for each discipline and caught a few members out - they don’t give that medal out easily!
After some whiskey and an even more deserved rest, the now battered and tired competitors set of for Tenby, Pembroke and Manorbier to complete a marathon, half marathon and 10k run. The weather had stayed relatively cool and overcast with the odd breaking of sunshine. Great for spectating but still on the warm side for running. Eight RTC members started the marathon with the hope of completing it within the 6-hour cut-off to be able to join the medal ceremony. Unfortunately Annette Golawska had to drop out at mile 10 with a calf injury, wisely choosing to not injure herself more with her main goals for the season still to come.
There were great performances from the five half marathon runners who started at midday at the half-way point of the marathon in Pembroke. They ran along what is widely seen as the hillier half, racing back to Tenby with others completing the full marathon around them. The atmosphere along the whole route is great but coming back through central Tenby and along the red carpet is a truly spectacular way to complete an event so demanding as Long Course Weekend.
Well done to all the competitors representing Rugby Triathlon Club and a huge thank you to our amazing hosts Alan and Emma who really do add a massive cherry on top of an awesome weekend. A special mention to Guy Sanders, Matt Hayward and Gregory Ashley for competing the Full Long Course Weekend for a 2nd year and to Ian Bartlett, Neal Whitford, Mel Plumridge and Sophie Albon for taming the beast for the first (and maybe not the last?) time. There were other truly stand out performances and hopefully many proud memories made. Regardless of the total distance covered, or the time taken, the event was a great one, not only for the action after the gun but for the drinks and food that followed.
When do 2020 entries open?