Bowood House Duathlon is organised by LPS Events and takes place in the stunning grounds of Bowood House and Gardens situated near Calne in Wiltshire.
The registration tent is outside of the Bowood House grounds so you head there before you even enter the grounds. You're given all the essentials - race numbers, timing chip, race belt etc - and then you head into the grounds where transition and the race take place. One of the biggest shames about this race is that all spectators must pay to enter the grounds and it isn't cheap at £12.50. Taking your parents along or your partner and a friend would set you back £25. This is clearly stated in all the event emails so it's not a surprise, it's just a little sneaky that you're not even allowed one free spectator per racer.
The organisation is good but it's a very small event with no food or drink stalls and no entertainment. You can spend time enjoying the house and gardens, but there's not that much to do and on a very cold, rainy October day it's not the most enjoyable way to spend a few hours waiting for your wave to start.
A duathlon is a run-bike-run event. Bowood offers a sprint and a super-sprint option for adults as well as 3 children's races from age 9-14. A super-sprint duathlon is a 2.5km run - 10km bike - 2.5km run and this consists of 1 lap for the runs and 4 laps for the bike at Bowood. A sprint duathlon is a 5km run - 20km bike - 5km run.
The run course is all off-road and had I realised I definitely would've worn trail shoes. The surfaces range from grass and mud to gravel paths and the autumn rain made it pretty slippy! The first half of the lap is all downhill which makes for a really fun set-off. You then run through the stunning grounds, past a cascade waterfall and temple and through a small forest. The route is absolutely stunning and it really takes your mind off the pain. The second half of the lap is very much uphill and can be tough on the legs if you're really pushing yourself.
Before long, you're back to the cheering crowds and into transition. The atmosphere is great - although it's a small event, there are plenty of people to cheer you on and keep you going.
The bike route is all paved and is on closed roads around the grounds. It's quite a technical course with a hairpin bend and some muddy areas where you really need to kill your speed, but again it's beautifully picturesque, taking you past a field full of bleating sheep. You pass the cheering crowds 4 times and there is a professional photographer on one of the bends so plenty of opportunity to show off your bike handling skills!
Then it's back to transition for the final run which is the same lap again. This time you know where the tricky bits are and when to reserve your legs. The course is very unique and stunningly beautiful and makes for a wonderful day out.
The race is organised well and the race director gives a very in-depth briefing, going through all the British Triathlon rules so that no one ends up getting disqualified. There are lovely medals for every finisher as well as a t-shirt. Goodie bags are provided by Sundried. There are lots of opportunities for photos and prizes for the winners. There are plenty of indoor toilets so no need to use a portaloo and it's very easy to get to your car at the end.
Overall, this is a great duathlon in a glorious location with a fun, technical, but interesting course.