Ironman Weymouth 2016 - Dorset, September 2016
Weymouth seafront is like a portrait of a British seaside town drawn from the mind of an author in the 1930s. The sweeping curve of the esplanade with its white railings and wooden huts along the beach is mirrored on one side by a grand Georgian terrace of hotels, B&Bs and cafes, and on the other by the line of the sea lapping at the pebbled shore. Everywhere you look, nostalgia looks back: from the iconic pastel blues, yellows and reds of the British seaside to the whirling carousel and ubiquitous aroma of chips and vinegar.
Living on this small island as we do, we Britons are blessed with a wealth of beautiful coast and I have always been loyal to the stunning scenery of Northumberland’s beaches, but Weymouth really did take my breath away. The wide curve of the beach blending into the green-topped white cliffs of the Jurassic Coast is truly a sight to behold.
I found myself in Weymouth on the day of the town’s first ever Ironman event. For those of you who don’t know an Ironman is possibly the toughest one-day sporting challenge in the world, a mammoth triathlon which comprises a 2.4 mile open-water swim and a 112-mile bike ride followed by the 26.2 miles of a full marathon run. These events are held in locations all over the country and across the world and now in Dorset too.
For any travellers who are keen to witness a big sporting event in 2017, I couldn’t recommend Ironman Weymouth more highly: not only do you get to experience the beautiful scenery and quintessentially British quality of this seaside town, but you also get to soak up the electric atmosphere on race day, when thousands of amateur and elite athletes set out to complete this almost superhuman feat of endurance.
As we gathered by the start line, the sun rose over the cliffs and its bright orange light spread out over the bay. This beautiful sunrise illuminated the sea and threw into dramatic relief the 2800 athletes waiting anxiously on the beach to dive into that fiery water and start their incredible race. It was a fitting start to a remarkable day.
I was lucky enough to lose my voice cheering in support of these amazing people as they swam, cycled and ran on a beautiful sunny day, with the spectacular backdrop of Weymouth Beach. I had the pleasure of being there to support a friend but I, like everyone else there, ended up supporting every single athlete, full of awe and admiration for each and every person who made it onto the course that day. The whole town was alive with anticipation from 5 in the morning, when the competitors started walking to the start line, to 11:30 in the evening, when the final racers made it over the finish line, the sense of camaraderie evident between competing athletes radiating out and infecting the supporters too.
It was an emotional and inspirational day; I only wish I had had more time to explore this beautiful area. Dorset’s Jurassic Coast is full of iconic destinations, from the fossil-filled beaches of Lyme Regis to the magnificent Durdle Door arch. Not only was this my first time watching an Ironman event, it was also my first time visiting this area of the country and I can definitely say that, having had my first taste, I’ll be back for more of both!