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Wed 16th Jun 2021
© Human Race Events
How to succeed at: Windsor
Posted by: Editor
Posted on: Wednesday 12th June 2013

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The Toshiba Windsor Triathlon occupies a pretty special place in the pantheon of British triathlons. To start with it's in the shadow of Windsor Castle with the bike route going around the Great Park and the run going through the town and then over the Thames into Eton - an historic setting that's pretty much unrivalled anywhere else. Add to the superb location the fact that it has been voted Triathlon of the Year by the BTF membership on no less than seven occasions (and it picked up a 220 award as well) and it becomes clear that this is an event that people really want to do - again and again.

Vital facts

Race dates 16th June 2013 (registration and racking on the 15th)
Race distances (advertised):

Standard: 1500m river swim, 42k bike, 10k run.
Sprint: 750m river swim, 30k bike, 5k run.
Toshiba Team Relay (Standard Distance)

Series / Qualification / Championship Status British Triathlon Super Series
British Elite Triathlon Championships


The Toshiba Windsor Triathlon fits firmly in the 'Premier League' of triathlon events in the UK, if not beyond. Organised by the 'Human Race' team, Windsor has been a firm favourite on the race calendar for what in 2013 will be the 23rd anniversary race. It's one of the country's biggest events, with over 2500 entrants registered this year. It's also one of the most popular, with entries for this year closing in September 2012 - nine months in advance of race day. If you are looking for an early season 'A' race, Windsor may be the one for you. A 'sprint distance' event (750m/30km/5km) is also held in conjunction with the main race. Click here to secure your place for 2014.

The Swim (Map)

Swim start at WindsorThe swim start is a good few minutes walk from the transition area (in bare feet across tarmac) - so do listen to the PA announcements, and make sure you are ready for your wave start in good time. Every year you will see people running along the bank to get in because they've missed their start. Because of the river closure during the race all the starts go bang on time in order to get all the age groupers through. You've got up early, and paid the entry fee, so you may as well start on time! If you do miss your start DO NOT just jump in and go, let the start team know and they will re-allocate you to another wave.

The swim does NOT start and finish in the same place: it's roughly 900m upstream to the Windsor Relief Road bridge, turn around the buoy, and then 600m back for the full distance. The sprint distance turn is, obviously, earlier and is just after the metal railway bridge - do not make the mistake that the elite field did a few years back and turn there, all bar three were disqualified!

Generally, the first half of the swim is against the current, and the return leg will be with the current. In 2008 the current was particularly strong - as those that struggled to get around the turn buoy will testify! In other years the current has been negligible - though in 2012 it was so strong the swim was cancelled! This means it will be faster to swim to the 'right' (against the bank) on the outward leg, and in the 'middle' of the river on your return. However, don't get too paranoid about this - if you go too far over to the bank, you'll more than likely get caught in reeds, fishing rods or swim into boats (yes, people have!) than save time...

TAKE NOTE! The swim exit is 'hidden' behind a long island that you swim past (to your right). As the return leg is both 'short' and with the current, it is very easy to miss this - very frustrating (I know, I've done it!). The exit is a specially constructed platform that is located at the steps just upstream of Barry's Café, there will be helpers here on race day to assist you out of the water.

It is very well worthwhile taking a walk along the river bank on the Saturday after you have registered and racked your bike to check out the swim start, the swim exit and the state of flow in the river.

After exiting the swim there is a long (circa 200m) run into transition, all on tarmac paths. While running, look to have the top half of your wetsuit off before you get to your bike (it's easier to remove a 'wet' wetsuit).

The Bike (Map)

Pro's take the final roundaboutThe bike course is neither excessively hilly or technical. If you are in the lucky position of choosing between a 'road' bike and a 'time trial / triathlon' bike (with bar end shifters), I would go with the TT/tri bike.

You cannot get onto your bike when you leave transition until you get out of Alexandra Gardens and onto the road. Given that the transition area is very large, and walking/running in cleats is awkward, it is well worth considering either running with your shoes in your hand or, if you can practice the technique beforehand, have the shoes already clipped into the pedals. However... only do this if you have practiced! Ever year the number of people who haven't, and thought they would try a flying mount for the first time on race day is staggering... and while highly amusing for spectators, often very painful for the athletes crashing to the floor in an embarrassed heap. If you haven't done it in training, don't try it on race day!

The bike course is one of my favourites - plenty of long straight roads and chances to get into a nice aero position. As always, beware of vehicles as the roads are not closed to traffic (though typically, they are quiet). We rode the route for our Garmin Route of the Month feature and you can also follow it here on GARMIN Connect . [UPDATE: The last mile of so of the course which takes you back into town to T2 did change from the 2011 race - that slight amendment isn't reflected on the Garmin trace. Do make sure you read the official RACE PACK and view the revised RACE MAPS].

The exception to the 'open roads' is the section in Drift Road which is partially closed to traffic. Beware, while this section is known as 'Draft Road' in some quarters there are static draftbusters on site, and they DO issue penalties. You know the rules - NO DRAFTING!

When you get back to T2, you DON'T get off your bike at the same point you got on (but beware of people who do!). Slow down, go up onto the pavement, through the park entrance and keep riding on the path down the edge of the transition area to the dismount line (actually a whacking great pole!) which is at the far end.

The Run (Map)

Running in the Eton High StreetThe run is three laps for both the full and the sprint distance - the sprint race does not do the section which goes over the bridge into Eton. The route is virtually all pan flat except for a nasty hill up to the Castle and back about 300m into each lap. If you are racing neck-and-neck, this hill provides an opportunity to try and break away.

At the end of the first lap you will turn around a structure in the middle of the road at the start of Barry Avenue. Here you cross a timing mat to register that you have completed a lap. Repeat this process at the end of lap two but at the end of lap three, you just continue straight on into Barry Avenue, which is the finishing straight, and go under the gantry.

There are two water stations in the run loop so that both the sprint and the full distance runners get two drinks per loop. The water stations are at the foot of the hill and at the Eton College end of Eton High Street.

Transitions (Map)

Transition holds 2400+ bikesThe transitions at Windsor are LONG. As noted above, you have a significant run to do after the swim to get to your bike and then it may be another 100 metres to the bike mount.

Because the transition area is so big (capacity is around 2,500 bikes!) you REALLY need to remember where you left your bike. The ends of the rows are numbered but it is a huge help, pre-race, to walk through the various entry and exit gates to transition and prepare yourself. You'll need to remember which row of bikes and how far up the row you are. Look for a landmark - are you near a large tree for example? Note, you CANNOT 'mark' your transition spot with talc, something tied to the racking or fencing, a flag and, no not even a hot air balloon...

Transition is also live - in other words from 6am there are people racing, people getting ready and people finishing. Because of this you CANNOT remove your bike until after the elite wave has finished their bike leg and are out on the run. Please be aware of other athletes at all times - your race might be over but theirs is still going on and it only takes one thoughtless act to ruin someone else's day.

Other information

Read your race instructions! The race website has detailed maps and race information. Don't ruin your race through ignorance!

Registration and racking is on the SATURDAY - no exceptions, they mean it. Remember to bring some form of ID and your BTF licence or you will have to pay for a day licence (£6 Seniors, £3 Youth & Juniors - cash only)

As you leave your bike in transition overnight (security is provided) it may be prudent to cover your bike, especially the gears, etc, with a large black plastic bag or similar in case of rain. If it is a hot day on Saturday do remember to deflate the tyres a bit, every year there are some that go bang! Mechanics are available in transition on Sunday morning to help in emergencies.

Timing is done by a 'chip' around your ankle - don't forget it. As you'll have plenty to think about (and possibly forget...) on Sunday morning, why not put it on on Saturday night? If you are sharing a room do make sure you have the right chip and numbers, every year someone manages to muddle theirs up and then all the results go horribly wrong...

Don't expect a 'PB' time - because of the long transitions and slightly long bike course, don't be surprised if a 'great' performance doesn't translate into a fast time - only once since 1999, (Matt Molly, 2011), has an Age Group athlete broken the two hour mark for the Standard Distance event..

Parking is at Windsor Boys School, you pay on Saturday for both days, and it is a good 10 minute walk to the transition area. Given the large number of people racing and the potential queues, do plan to arrive in plenty of time on race morning. As well as the inevitable line of Portaloos there is a large toilet block at the end of the coach park behind Alexandra Gardens. It's about 200m away, which often means the queues are significantly shorter, and it always has toilet paper...

Windsor has its own website ( which has information on the town and local facilities.

If you are looking for somewhere local to stay you can try Windsor accommodation hotline: 01753 743900 or email [email protected]

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