Pembrokeshire is becoming an increasingly popular location for triathlons and endurance events, with many people flocking to the area to challenge themselves amongst stunning terrain.
The rolling landscapes and juxtaposition of the coastline make the region perfect for holding both small and large-scale endurance events such as 10k runs, triathlon events and marathons, with the jam-packed events calendar punctuated by the annual showstopper of the IRONMAN Wales event.
Many use the other smaller events in the calendar as training for the larger events – such as IRONMAN, or Long Course Weekend, which traditionally takes place in July – and many events which have been running for a number of years are seeing increased entry numbers and a higher profile, due to the increase in enthusiasm and participation in endurance events nationally.
Whether you’re a seasoned triathlete or a first timer, let’s take a close look at the types of events that you can compete in when visiting West Wales.
Photo credit: IRONMAN
Consisting of a 2.4-mile (3.86 km) swim, a 112-mile (180.25 km) cycle ride and a marathon 26.22-mile (42.20 km) run, IRONMAN Wales is the epic event that serious endurance competitors and locals alike look forward to on a yearly basis.
Held in Tenby since 2011, the event actually spans a vast majority of South Pembrokeshire, taking in roads from Tenby, out towards Pembroke, up to Narberth and back through Wiseman’s Bridge and Saundersfoot, finishing in illuminated glory, on the famous Tenby Esplanade.
If IRONMAN is considered as one of the most gruelling endurance triathlon events in the world, Tenby is often cited as one of the toughest IRONMAN courses out there. But it is a day to be enjoyed, and local support is always on point, with crowds there every step of the way to cheer on the 2,000+ competitors.
IRONMAN Wales cottages
Photo credit: Long Course Weekend
Long Course Weekend
The Long Course Weekend is set on the west coast of Wales in Pembrokeshire, with Tenby once again playing the main host. The event follows the basic IRONMAN event principle, but splits the individual swim, cycle and run up into individual events that take place on subsequent days.
As such, the event attracts over 10,000 athletes – which is around four times the size of IRONMAN – and around 35,000 supporters from 45 nations, over the three days of competition. Within the events, the organisers also host ‘The Wales Marathon’, ‘Half Marathon’, ’10k’ and ‘5k’ events, which allows for multi-discipline participation which really tests each athlete, regardless of their chosen distances.
Traditionally an early July event, many competitors descend on Tenby to make the most of the unique course layout in preparations for IRONMAN or other long-endurance events they may be taking part in.
Photo credit: TenFoot
Over the course of one weekend, Tenby hosts a series of endurance events under the ‘TenFoot’ title, where 100% of the proceeds from the races go to local charities including the Tenby RNLI, Tenby Surf Link and Saundersfoot and Tenby Sailing Clubs.
The TenFoot Swim is an event in which competitors complete a 5km sea swimming course from Tenby’s North Beach to Saundersfoot’s main beach – hence the name TenFoot – with a halfway safety and feed point at Monkstone Beach.
Swim/running is one of the fastest growing extreme endurance sports in Europe. At TenFoot Swim/Run, competitors swim sections of the course and run sections of others nonstop, without transitions or changes of kit, allowing you to travel further through the spectacular Pembrokeshire scenery and get closer to nature.
The course is a distance of roughly 10km, made up of 4km of swimming and 6km running split into three swim and three run sections on a course between Tenby and Saundersfoot.
Photo credit: TenFoot
The FootStep Run is a mass participation community event with separate races for children and adults. Under 12s run a half-mile traffic-free route, while children aged 12-14 and adults over 14 can choose between distances of 1, 3 and 5 miles.
Routes follow the Saundersfoot to Stepaside trail, heading up The Strand through to the old railway tunnels along beautiful Pembrokeshire coastline. Plus, there is optional fancy dress, with prizes on offer for the best-dressed individuals and teams.
NHS Monkfoot Swim
The newest TenFoot event is the NHS Monkfoot Swim, a shorter sea swim named in honour of the NHS staff on the frontline of the Covid-19 pandemic.
It involves a 1.4-mile sea swim from Monkstone Beach between Tenby and Saundersfoot, finishing up on Saundersfoot Beach. NHS staff are encouraged to enter, with the entry fee waived for any NHS competitors to show appreciation for their hard work.
Pembrokeshire Coast Triathlon
Awarded British Triathlon event of the year in 2015, the Pembrokeshire Coast Triathlon takes you through spectacular scenery in St Brides Bay, in the heart of the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park.
An Olympic-distance triathlon, with a 1.5km swim, 43km bike ride and a 10.6km run, this event is particularly popular with relay teams. Including a swim that’s never further than 200 metres from the shore, a challenging and hilly cycle and a run along the beach and coast path, this is one of the best events for soaking up the beautiful Pembrokeshire views.
Photo credit: Saundersfoot Triathlon
A brilliant event for athletes of all abilities, the Saundersfoot Triathlon is a sprint event, so it includes a 750-metre swim, a 20km bike ride and a 5k run. The triathlon takes in sea views and scenic runs, along with incredible community support.
The triathlon begins with a mass start on the beach, where you head into the water on Saundersfoot beach to swim anti-clockwise between two buoys. Then it’s onto the two-lap bike route before you come back into Saundersfoot. The run heads out through the short tunnels and along the seafront before returning to Saundersfoot to complete the course in front of the cheering crowd.
Stay with us in West Wales
Whether you’re planning on a short and sweet stay for a sprint triathlon, or you want to make a holiday of preparing for, and competing in, an IRONMAN-distance event, we have plenty of fantastic holiday cottages in West Wales where you can base yourself for a sporty getaway. Stay close to the courses and have somewhere close by where you can refuel and relax before conquering your next event.
West Wales cottages
Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing,
please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.