By Guy Roberts
Until Ironman Copenhagen became out of bounds because of Covid I had never considered an ‘Outlaw event’ despite hearing generally positive reviews about them. To ensure my winter training had not been in vain Nathan suggested I sign up for Bowood – so I did.
Bowood is a half distance (1.9 / 90 / 21km) event about 55 miles from Oxford in Wiltshire.
Racking the bike the day before was a 5 minute affair and allowed all entrants to score a couple of new water bottles. To avoid a super early drive on Sunday morning my wife and I decided to stay locally in Lacock (setting of some Harry Potter filming) though camping was available on site for the more hardy.
The swim was delayed due to fog over the stunning lake. The start of the swim was very civilised and seemed far less stressful than the sardine can approach favoured by IM. We were set off in pairs based on our estimated times – I went in (chatting) with some chap called Nick Wenban Smith. Water temperature was perfect – no sudden immersion in freezing water. The course is a single lap of the lake – there were enough people to draft behind but not so enough to make getting into a rhythm tricky. I exited the lake a few steps behind our illustrious chairman NWS.
From swim exit to T1 there is a short hill ( thanks), wetsuit off, shoes, number belt and helmet on , grab bike then there is another 250m or so uphill run to the bike start.
The bike course was very well sign-posted and all bits of dodgy surface highlighted in ‘Outlaw orange’. The route was quite technical with lots of twists and turns – there are about 4 hills to speak off but nothing too scary or long – they could either be ‘attacked’ (not by me) or just ridden steadily. The bike route offered some great views as well as passing through the stone circle at Avebury. The only section with much traffic is when the route goes through the town of Divizes The course finishes with a fast few Kms leading back to T2.
I am glad I did not look at the run profile before booking up. It was lumpy to put it mildly. The route is about 50/50 – road/trail with lots of shaded areas and 3 aid stations per 7km laps. The short laps were great (hills aside) as it broke the run into bite sized chucks making it mentally far easier than ‘just running 21k’. The highlight of the run was, of course the Oxford Tri aid station (thanks guys) and seeing other Oxford Tri competitors at various points to shout out and receive encouragement. I saw Rebecca D flying on her victory bound final lap whilst I was on my first. The varied course with good support saw me run 1:52 with an overall time of 5:32 – I was pleased with that; and unlike at the end of Ironman I was still able to walk and talk.
At the end of the ‘orange carpet (they love the colour) I met with Nick WS and Tim Thorpe who had just finished as well as David Bird who had gone sub 5 despite telling everyone how his leg was sore and he would be walking the run!
Pro’s Great event, easy to get to, laid back but very professional – 10/10 course. I will defiantly do another Outlaw.
Con’s At the end we got a food voucher so had to queue up for ages for food – just give us a bowl of pasta – and if that’s all I’ve got to moan about…..