First of all, the Long Course Weekend is not a triathlon in the traditional sense, rather individual events – The Wales swim, The Wales Sportive and The Wales Marathon – that cover the three triathlon disciplines – swim, bike, run – spread over three days of racing.
Hailed as the biggest multi-sport festival in Europe, LCW Wales attracts an incredible 12,000 athletes and 36,000 supporters from 56 nations to the small town of Tenby, in Pembrokeshire on the south west coastline of Wales.
Yes, it’s pretty popular and it’s easy to see why so many sign up for this mid-season corker from the stunning scenery to the fireworks, samba bands and funky medals.
You can enter as many disciplines or distances as you like – do one or do them all, from the full distance 2.4mile swim / 112 mile bike / 26.2mile run to the 1.2mile / 40mile / 5KM courses.
The event’s mantra is #sportforall so novices, pros and those with disabilities are all catered for.
And why not make it a family affair? Kids aged 4-11 have their own surf run race and 11 pluses can compete in the 5KM run.
Most competitors make special mention of the fabulous bling you get for finishing but if you want the coveted “fourth medal” and be part of their “world famous” (the organisers’ words!) ceremony on the Sunday you need to enter the punishing full Long Course Weekend.
Stunningly scenic south-west Wales
This really is a full on festival in every sense of the word, from the huge crowds, music and live bands to the spectacular fireworks making the atmosphere positively electric.
The festival takes place in the picturesque walled town of Tenby, Pembrokeshire with the official race HQ, start and finish lines based just out of the town centre in Saltern’s Car Park but still close to all the amenities.
The whole of Tenby is transformed for the weekend, literally taken over by the thousands of athletes and spectators here to race and party hard.
While the swim event is in the local bay, the bike and run courses take you into the stunning, castle-tastic county of Pembrokeshire before bringing you back to the finish line in Tenby.
You can carbo-load or refuel in the town’s decent choice of eateries for anything from burgers to local seafood. Try the award-winning Qube Restaurant or Tap & Tan for craft ales and wood-fired street food.
THE VOICE OF EXPERIENCE
“Tenby never fails to put on a spectacular show for Long Course and the swim is particularly epic. The beach is beautiful, the crowds amazing and there’s not much else that compares to running into the sea with over 2000 other swimmers while the music and fireworks blare out.”
Accommodation in Tenby can get booked up months in advance but there’s a good choice on offer from the likes of budget-friendly Premier Inn to boutique hotels like The Billycan and further afield with options via Coastal Cottages who have a range of stunning properties across Pembrokeshire.
Whether you are travelling domestically or flying into south Wales via Cardiff or Bristol airports arriving by car is probably the easiest option but you can take the train to Tenby station, which is located in the centre of town.
Course – options galore
Long Course Weekend Wales has something to suit most athletes from your 5KM novice just curious about triathlon to the experienced age-grouper and pro keen to step up to full distances.
SWIM – 1.2 / 2.4 miles
The Friday evening swim at North Beach is Wales’ largest open water swimming event and the race literally starts with a bang as you run into the sea to a full-on synchronised firework and music extravaganza.
With the water in this crystal clear and safe bay on the cooler side at around 15°C, wetsuits are mandatory and they’ll also save you from any painful stings from the reported odd jellyfish.
The 1.2mile course is just one lap, for those going long you exit the sea, run along the golden sand then you’re back in for a second lap. Crowds of spectators line the beach so prepare for some serious cheering and with over 2000 swimmers expect a bit of a washing machine.
THE WALES SPORTIVE – 40 / 70 / 112 miles
The 3,500 entrants enjoy closed roads winding through the glorious landscape of this corner of Wales and unrivalled support from the local community as you ride through the villages is second – to- none.
The three distances on offer have something to cater to all abilities and the option to use e-bikes on the 40 mile course ensures it is even more accessible. For those with an eye on speed you can now choose to ride either road & TT-bikes, though consider that there are prizes on offer for the King, Queen and Junior of the tasty St Brides Hill, Saundersfoot.
And try not to grimace for the cameras – it’s the UK’s only televised sportive broadcast globally!
RUN – 5 / 10KM & 13.1 / 26.2 miles
There is a distance to suit everyone and even kids 11 and over can run the 5KM.
A coach transports the half marathoners to Pembroke where a samba band will escort you as you walk to the start line at the castle.
Whatever your route, you’re never far from an historic ruin or castle and the 10KM race starts up at Manorbier Castle.
Again, the amazing views of the coast will hopefully numb some of the pain of the hills – on the marathon you can expect over 1800 feet of climbing – but the locals will be out in force, many offering jelly babies and even a cooling hosepipe if it’s hot enough!
Then prepare yourself for that epic red carpet finish back in Tenby and if you need one final boost to get you over the line, your loved ones can join you for those last few steps which makes a cracking family photo!
Spectators – Fun for all the family
Friends and family can base themselves at The Saltern’s for the start and finish lines and the fun atmosphere in the Race Village, where there are tempting food, drink and triathlon kit stalls aplenty.
On Friday evening, there is really only one place to be and that’s North Beach in Tenby. Here spectators can watch the action in the waves and the fireworks overhead from the golden sands or raised vantage points further back. Some hardy supporters even stand in the sea to cheer you on your way!
Out on the bike course, Saundersfoot Hill is the ultimate hotspot to see who is the fastest athlete to the top or they can cheer you on at the feed station at Boars Head Templeton.
On run day the town of Pembroke is the perfect hotspot as it’s the half way mark for the long course and where the half marathon starts. Last year Manorbier won Best Supporting Village award so head there for a great atmosphere.
After three days of fandom, the after-party on the Sunday is not to be missed.
Why race Long Course Weekend Wales?
A unique festival that presents Wales’ largest open water swim with an opening ceremony like no other. Expect fireworks!
There is a race discipline for every one – it is suitable for beginners to pro athletes. Do one event or them all!
The spectator support and community can’t be beaten. – with people from over 56 nations coming to Tenby to participate.
THE VOICE OF EXPERIENCE
“As always the course is challenging but with amazing scenery around Pembrokeshire…Aid stations are well stocked and at regular intervals.”
RACEcation – Castles and sandcastles
Even if South West Wales lives up to its rainy reputation, there is fun for all the family across the whole of Pembrokeshire.
The county is home to the UK’s only coastal national park and its 186 miles of coastline is peppered with spectacular golden beaches – 59 in all – so don’t forget your bucket and spade and hiking boots for the coastal trail.
Make the most of the sea by literally jumping feet first into some coasteering action, try your hand at kitesurfing, or take a boat trip out to the islands to spot puffins and seals.
If your youngsters are big animal lovers, they can take some alpacas for a walk, visit the Manor House Wildlife Park, or enjoy some Jurassic fun at The Dinosaur Park.
Steeped in history, you can travel back in time at any of its countless castles – Pembroke or Carew Castle to name just two – or visit St David’s, the UK’s smallest city, with its stunning 12th century cathedral.
And when it really is wet and horrid, museums, galleries and artisan workshops should keep everyone amused and dry.
RACE Long course Weekend wales in 2023
Don’t miss out on this ultimate-multi sport festival experience in the heart of Pembrokeshire where you get to race against over 12,000 athletes over three incredible days.