Wow. What a race Outlaw X turned out to be. Shrouded in secrecy pre-event due to both the swim and run courses being on the private grounds of the Thoresby Estate, there wasn’t much information out there for anyone wanting to get a grip of the route before tackling it. Read below for my impressions of the first running of OSB event Outlaw X;
The swim course looked outstanding. The lake was idyllic, with the staging that OSB had created to enter and exit the lake having a proper ‘pro’ feel to it, with coloured carpets, exit ramps and jump-off area. It was a real sight to behold. The water was crystal clear, too, which is always desirable. Despite the late September race date, the water wasn’t too cold and was actually quite pleasant. As we were waiting at the start-line (deep water start, about 50m from the jump-in point), the sun was rising behind us meaning that the return back down the lake would involve heading into the sun. My smoke mirror tinted Zone3 Volare goggles were perfect for this, combatting any sun glare I encountered.
The swim course is reasonably straight-forward. From the start, it’s a straight swim down the lake for 500m, following the triangular sighting buoys until you reach the square turning buoy, where you take a left turn to swim across the lake about 100m to another square turning buoy. Another left turn to head back down the lake (again following the line of triangular sighting buoys) for around 600m until you swim around the monument island and take another left turn at the buoy, but this time at a 180degree turn to start heading back, 250m towards the start/finish pontoon. When you make your final left turn, one final square buoy guides you in line with the exit ramp. From then onwards it’s a straight swim of around 200m until the finish.
I achieved the swim in my Zone3 Vanquish wetsuit, which I’d only swam in a few times prior. Fits like a glove and allowed for a lot of flexibility around the shoulders, which is something that I used to really struggle with.
From the lake to T1, it’s a pretty long run. I’d say its around 500m or so. This is great for clearing any dizziness that you can feel from the swim exit and works well for mentally preparing yourself for T1 and getting your head into bike mode! Straight out of transition, you head out onto the bike course via a private road. It’s a bit uphill, and tight in sections, so just keep your cool here. The course soon opens up as soon as you’re out onto the open road.
I loved the bike course. It provided a real mix of challenges from short, sharp climbs to longer drags. To wide open flowing roads that you could really get your head down on. All of it was well marshalled, with adequate traffic control and route markings to make it truly a real pleasure to ride. The first real challenge comes about 5 miles or so into the bike ride, at the village of Walesby. The course kicks up quite significantly for about a mile and it’s not really the sort of climb that you can just bully yourself to get over or maintain any real speed. So, go down through the gears on the lower slopes and spin your way up. There is no false-flat and you can get back up to speed really quickly over the top. So, focus on that rather than really attacking the climb. For the next 20 miles, the course really opens up. The roads are rolling, but the surfaces are great and give real confidence to ride fast. In fact, this is pretty consistent for the whole bike course. The road surfaces are generally very good that don’t leave you worrying about what line to take or patches you need to avoid. Kudos to OSB for finding some great roads! There are a few other climbs on the course, but these are much less severe than the Walesby climb and are either longer, more gradual ‘drags’ or quick ‘lumps’ that you can maintain speed over. The course does also have a few reasonable progressive down-hill sections. I wouldn’t call them descents, as such, just places that you can carry some great speed through and also get a much-deserved rest if you need it. For me, these sections I really pushed on through, helped by my 55/42 front gearing choice. Back into Thoresby Hall, you come in the same way as you exited so, again, take care as you head off the main road and towards T2.
The run course was another unknown that ended up as a real treat. Out of T2, it was just a short jaunt across a grass field then onto the internal tarmac paths/roads of the estate for 3x7km loops. Nothing too significant in the way of climbing, but the course is more gently rolling much like the bike course was. After about 2.5km of the run loop, the course heads onto an off-road section. This continues for a couple of kilometres over a combination of farm tracks/trails before re-joining the internal roads again. On event day, the weather was pretty terrible and even with a significant amount of rain the off-road sections were still perfectly runnable in road shoes. It is definitely not a run course that requires off-road/trail shoes, despite what it might look like from the GPS file. As with all Outlaw events, the finish line is a real spectacle. A good number of spectators gather to cheer you on, and in combination with the enthusiastic commentary team, give you a real grandstand finish!
Overall, it’s a fantastic event which has all the makings of becoming a real classic.