Is it a fast course?
Pretty good. Mark Shaw’s heart is in the right place and his record of booking the right weather over the race’s 3 year history is well up there with John Lunt’s record at Windsor. Mark is in his element at the centre of things and has a good team of happy helpers. The atmosphere of the event is enhanced by uplifting PA commentary at the finish line and particularly cool DJ sounds throughout the day. Thankfully, the spit-roasted pig idea from 2002 has not been repeated.
The 2004 was the biggest yet. It was a Grand Prix series event and attracted 360 entries. I’m sure it will be bigger again in 2005, being a World Champs qualifying event.
Flat. The 2002 race was the first time ever that anyone had been given permission to swim in Rutland Water. It is very clean making it good for spotting feet to sit on. Each wave normally containes 70-100 swimmers. The start is very wide and it would be easy to find your own space right from the gun. The organisers have not mastered the art of measuring an acurate course and swim distances have been very variable - getting longer each year!
Undulating and slightly long (about 41k I think). Sarah would say it’s a hilly course so it’s probably somewhere inbetween. There are three fairly long drags but getting out of the saddle for them would be showing way too much respect. The course runs on a mixture of country lanes and wide main roads – both of them surprisingly quiet and well marshalled.
Slightly short (9.6k) and pretty flat. It’s an out and back route entirely off-road. If you insist on taking the shortest line, take care over the cattlegrids. The first 3.8k is on country paths (some tarmac and some not) plus a decent section of grass. The middle 2k is back and forth (twice) along the dam wall – very boring but you get to check out where the opposition is and look them in the eye! The return trip to the finish line is very slightly downhill and from a mile away you can see and hear the PA cheering you in from across the water.