Tri Training Harder's Review of IRONMAN 70.3 UK Exmoor 2016

Welcome to our IRONMAN® 70.3 UK Exmoor Course Review. Here we aim to give you a good insight into the course, the location and what to expect as well as extra tips for spectators and advice for nutrition and training.


IRONMAN® 70.3 UK Exmoor is located at Wimbleball Lake, Somerset. For many people travelling from other regions of the UK, this race is not the easiest to get to, but what it lacks in accessibility it more than makes up for in character and scenery.

The race HQ, start, T1, T2 and finish are all located in the same place on this course- right by the side of Wimbleball Lake. This is a protected wilderness area, with few houses nearby and a few miles to the nearest village.


For accommodation you have a few options:
1)   Camping on site – best for those on a budget and who don’t want a twisty drive on race day morning.
2)   Local cottages to rent – great for groups and can be very inexpensive if booked in advance with a large party. More comfortable than camping, but there will be a short drive to get to and from race HQ.
3)   Hotel/B&B – few and far between and get booked very quickly! Nearest budget hotels are in Taunton which is actually a bit of a drive. There are much closer B&B’s some of which are great value and close to the race but these do need to be booked well in advance.

Nirvana Europe are the Official Travel Agent to the IRONMAN European Series, providing accommodation, travel and event services to athletes and spectators.


The swim is a 1.9km single clockwise loop. Wimbleball Lake is very clean with exceptional water quality and apart from the very start which gets a bit churned up with all the athletes treading in it the water clarity is very good. Wetsuits are mandatory.

Top tip: Use the landscape behind each buoys to help you sight! On race day, the water is choppy and it can be very bright due to the low sun. Looking up at the hills and large trees directly above the bouy you are heading for can often be easier.

Cut off time: 1 hour 10 minutes after your wave start, with a further 10 minutes allowed to reach bike mount


T1 at this race is a discipline in its own right! Prepare yourself for the 400m uphill dash to transition which gets everyone huffing and puffing.

In T1 you will find your own numbered blue bag (given to you at registration) in which we would recommend having:

-Race belt with number attached*
-Bike Shoes
-Talc for your bike shoes to soak up any excess moisture
-Small towel
-Nutrition for the bike
-Spare water for rinsing your mouth out after the swim
-Warm layers


Your wetsuit and any other discarded swim kit is to be put in this bag to be re-hung by a volunteer.


To view in high resolution click here.
This is a cyclists course and if you love hills you will have a big advantage over your competitors.

The course begins with a 5km drag out of transition before starting the 2-laps. Do not attack this climb with too much gusto or you will pay for it later in the day. Instead, we would recommend settling into a rhythm and focusing on your own effort level and pace as opposed to anyone else around you. This section is usually a little congested with riders so to minimize the risk of causing an accident, stick right over to the left unless you are overtaking. If you are overtaking, shout (nicely) something along the lines of “passing on your right” so that others know you are coming.

At 5km, you start Lap 1 (see course profile below) which begins with another 1km of climbing along narrow, twisting lane. Again, stay over to the left so that faster riders can overtake safely and easily should they need to.
You will then reach a T-junction at which you turn left (remember to stay on the left side of the white lines!) and start an undulating 8km along this wider road. The surface is very good for the most part, however this section is exposed to the elements so has the potential to be either a lot faster or slower depending on the wind direction on race day. A good time to get some nutrition on board.

Crossing the lake before the drag out of transition.
After 14km, there is another left turn and here the fun begins with an 11km descent broken up only by a few short climbs that you can ‘float’ over if you keep up your momentum. At 19km there is the first feed station (Combeshead Cross).  From here after only one very short climb, the descent steepens, culminating in a NO-OVERTAKING ZONE at 24km finishing at 25km. The no-overtaking zone is in place not just because the descent is steep and technical, but because at the bottom there is a very sharp left hand turn onto a main road, and if you approach this junction too fast (or amongst other cyclists) it could be dangerous.  Keep your distance from the rider in front, slow down in good time and take the corner gently, again keeping to your side of the road. Braking too suddenly gives you a real risk of a puncture here too (been there done that...) which would be less than ideal at this stage in the game.
To view in high resolution click here.
Now it is time to knuckle down, starting with a 2km flat section along the bottom of the valley (watch out for the occasional large drain here) and then left turn up the first steep climb. There can be gravel on this corner so take care. This climb is one of the worst of your whole day; it is not long (less than 1km) but very steep and will get everyone breathing nicely! We would advise getting into your easiest gear and keeping the highest cadence you can right to the top and over the other side.
After this cheeky leg-burner you have a short break to catch your breath again in the form of a descent but don’t get too comfortable, the real climbing is about to start! The next one is long, from 30km to 34km broken up by some undulations at the start but quickly turning into a steady climb. After another very short rest bite, the final climb is up to the next feed station (and supporters) at Haddon Hill at 36.5km.
Supporters of our own Tri Training Harder athletes at Haddon Hill!
Done with the climbing? Think again.

After Haddon Hill feed station and the crowds of supports cheering you on, there is a rolling descent to the 40km mark but from here you are heading upwards again. This time the climbing is less steep, and on a bigger road, however it will feel like a bit of a drag. At 45km however, you have finished Lap 1.

The junction between the laps and road to transition.
You can approach Lap 2 with conviction now you have reached the half way point. If you have paced the first lap sensibly you should be able to put in a strong second lap which will give you confidence for the run. Don’t be tempted to play cat and mouse with other competitors on the course, stick to your own sustainable effort level and you will thank yourself later!

After you have completed Lap 2, you can at last take the coveted left turn back down towards transition (see map). This is a great opportunity to ease off slightly and get a nice high cadence going to prepare your legs for the run.

Cut off time: 5 hours 30 minutes after your wave start, with a further 10 minutes allowed to reach the run exit


At T2 (the same location as T1) you will come off your bike, rack it, then head into the marquee and pick up your RED transition bag. In this will have all your run kit: (for example)

-Run nutrition
-Appropriate extra clothing for bad weather

Your helmet and any other discarded bike kit is to be put in this bag and left in the tent to be re-hung by a volunteer. 


To view in high resolution click here
If you thought the bike was tough, take a look at the run.

It is a trail-runners dream, with the majority of the course either on grass, small paths or small gravel tracks.

You might find it complicated when you first take a look at the course map, but we can assure you that on the day it is so well signed and marshalled there is no chance of you taking a wrong turn. The loops nearby the finish area are brilliant for supporters and allow them to see the athletes they are supporting numerous times throughout the run without having to move.

The run starts with a short loop around the finish area and out onto the road. The worst climb of the run course is right here, very shortly after joining the road – short, steep and another severe leg burner! Once you are over the brow of this hill you will join a small track and head down the other side of the hill (very steep and stony - watch your footing here) and onto the dam. You are now on concrete underfoot again as you go across the dam (feed station here) and do a U-turn straight back along it again. 
Example of the course trail that runs alongside the lake.

Once you reach the end of the dam, the course veers off to the right on a small trail through the woods alongside the lake. It is a beautiful section of the run course but a bit up and down, making it a real challenge to find a steady pace!  After 5km you will be back close to the finish/start area and the crowds will be cheering you on. This section is a mixture of gravelly path and grass. Then you will head out for a 1.5km total out and back section which is a brilliant opportunity to check out any competition you have around you. You can then compare your position alongside others during this same section over the next two laps.  At the end of the out/back you will re-join the lap where you did at the start when you exited transition. You have completed Lap 1!

There are 3 laps of the run in total, and because of the undulating and winding nature of the course we would very much recommend paying attention to your effort levels rather than worrying too much about your pace which will fluctuate. Make use of the feed stations that are available on each lap, especially during the first two laps- you will want all the energy you can get for that finish sprint!

Cut off time: 8 hours 30 minutes after your wave start.

Rounding the last corner before the finish chute - at last!


Once you have crossed the line, received your medal and T-shirt, you will be shown into the finishers tent where there will be food, drink, massage tables and also your own WHITE bag. In this, we would recommend putting in:

-Clean socks and comfortable shoes
-Full change of clothes, especially if the weather is bad.


Our top tips for giving your spectators the best experience at IRONMAN® 70.3 Exmoor.

1) Where is best to spectate for the swim? 
For the swim at Exmoor the best place to be is right at the swim start and exit (these are in the same location for this race). There is a great atmosphere here and the bank is steep enough to get a good veiw of the course.

1) Where is best to spectate on the bike? 
We would really recommend spectating the bike course on Haddon Hill for a few reasons. Firstly, there is no need to drive as it is within walking distance of the start and lots of time to walk there after seeing your athlete exit the swim. Secondly, they will go past this spot twice and it being on a hill they will be cycling a little slower giving you a little more time to spot them and thirdly, there is a fantastic atmosphere with other supporters.

2) Where to spectate on the run?
At IRONMAN® 70.3 UK Exmoor you have a lot of great options to support your athlete. If you are making your way back from Haddon Hill, you will cross the dam which is part of the run course- so you could stop here. The good thing about this location is you can see them twice in quick sucession as they do the out/back across the damn itself. 
From here we would recommend walking along the side of the run course alongside the lake back towards the finish area. This ensures that you will definately not miss your athlete as they run past, and you get a good feel for the run course as you go. Once you are back in the finish area there is plenty of choice near to a lot of the course which is a good chance to settle down with a picnic on the grass as you do so.

Gear and Equipment


This will be a wetsuit swim, so make sure you have one that is well fitted and that you have tried beforehand (walking around like a lemon in your living room doesn't count, get in a lake or the sea).

Take a couple of spare swim caps with you- these could be very useful extra head warmth on the day underneath the one you will be given.


This is a hilly course! For IRONMAN® 70.3 UK Exmoor, we would advise a compact gear set up for most riders so that you do not have to churn out a big gear going up the steeper climbs.

Make sure you have enough water cages for your nutrition plan and have got your bike fully serviced or at least well cleaned, lubricated and checked (especially tyres and brakes) at least a week before the race so that you can ride with confidence without putting yourselves (or anyone else riding near you) in danger.

Ipods, MP3 players or similar are not permitted, and your race number must be worn on your back and clearly visible.


The terrain is mixed for the run and will be a little weather dependant. If the ground is dry, then there will be no problems, however if the ground is at all wet, it can get muddy on the grassy sections. It is worth training in and bringing a set of 'regular' race trainers and some which are designed for trail running too so that you can choose on the day. Make sure trainers are well worn-in pre race, the worst thing possible is blisters during the run leg! Remember, Ipods, MP3 players or similar are not permitted on the course. Your race number must be worn on your front, visible for photographers and marshals to see.


All your hard work and dedication in the lead up to this will be completely 100% wasted without a viable nutrition plan on race day! For a more in-depth look at how you could tackle your nutrition plan for the race, click here.

Bike Course Feed Stations:

These will be found at 19km (Combeshead Cross), 36km (Haddon Hill), 60km (Combeshead Cross) and 77km (Haddon Hill).

At these feed stations you will find: PowerBar Drink & Energize Bars, Water and Bananas (cut in half)

Run Course Feed Stations:

There are 3 feed stations on each of the 3 run laps, each around 2.4km apart.

At these feed stations you will find: PowerBar Drinks and Gels, Water, Cola and Bananas


Tri Training Harder, the official coach for IRONMAN® UK Events in 2016 can be of help in a number of ways:

- Download your own bespoke training plan for your event here.
- Have a coach help, who will build your training plan for you with options that suit your needs and budget here.
- Phone consultation with an experiened coach to answer your personal training questions here.
- A training holiday in the Algarve for a week of training surrounded by like-minded individuals and experienced coaches to answer any of your questions! 

Tri Training Harder's training holidays in Portugal. Training is never as hard in the sunshine!

Registration for 2017

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We hope this review has helped you. Happy Training!

The Tri Training Harder team

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