Votwo is one of the UK’s leading events companies with a wide-ranging portfolio and a reputation for both organisational excellent and accessibility. TriGear talked to director Andy Blow to find out more about how they operate and what’s on offer through 2014 and beyond.
TriGear: Can you start by giving us a little history of votwo…
Andy Blow: Votwo was originally set up in 2003/2004 as a coaching company focused on triathlon, multisport and working with racing drivers. We decided to put on a couple of duathlons in 2005 to promote the coaching business and they really took off, so the events company was born. Since then we’ve continued to offer coaching services on a small scale, we run a sports science lab for athletes (at the Porsche Experience Centre, Silverstone) and we’ve greatly expanded the portfolio of events we run. Essentially we aim to put on the sort of events we would like to do ourselves, so a mixture of traditional triathlons, running races and the like as well as some more adventurous challenges and obstacle races.
TriGear: You offer a range of distances, so something for everyone?
Andy Blow: Yes – the idea is that we have the option for everyone from beginners to experienced athletes to race on effectively the same course. Triathlon is, after all, largely a participation event. Certainly a few fast folks at the sharp end are very competitive about it but for the majority it is about personal challenge and being part of a big event with lots of others on the same day is part of the attraction I think.
Andy Blow: Yes we love the idea of introducing new people to the sport and find that the sprint, super sprint and relay options are a great way to dip your toe in with minimal training so hopefully you can get bitten by the bug!
TriGear: What help and support can those new to competing expect at your events?
Andy Blow: Friendly staff, smooth organisation, well marked routes and of course at Eton Dorney a traffic free environment on the bike which makes it much safer and less intimidating than racing on the public roads. Most of our staff and marshals have been involved in the sport and with votwo for a long time so tend to be very helpful to the athletes, especially newcomers, for whom it can all seem quite confusing.
TriGear: Do you offer equipment hire for those testing out events for the first time?
Andy Blow: At some of the events we have pre-booked bike hire from British Bike Hire and can organise wetsuit hire via our partners Zone 3 (also by prior arrangement) as cycles and wetsuits are definitely the two big ticket items that a lot of new athletes might not have splashed out on yet.
TriGear: You mentioned Eton Dorney, it adds a dash of Olympic-level glamour – how long have you been running events there?
Andy Blow: We’ve been running events at Eton Dorney for 8 years now and it’s been great to see the venue expand and grow post 2012 with a wider network of paths and tracks to allow for various different courses within the one venue. It’s location near to the motorway makes it very handy for anyone travelling in and there is just something inspiring about competing in a venue where not long ago Gold medals were won by some of the top athletes in the world – it’s not every day you get to do that.
TriGear: A fast course too, so plenty of PB potential for the more experienced competitor…
Andy Blow: Definitely; the swim is in the lake so no tides, currents or flow to deal with and the bike and run routes are also flat, literally pan-flat in fact so can be super fast as long as it’s not too windy.
TriGear: Away from Eton Dorney you offer the opportunity for some salt water action. What should people expect from those events?
Andy Blow: We do indeed have a series of low key Saturday morning triathlons (the Salty Sea Dog series) in Boscombe near Bournemouth and these are designed primarily as training races for experienced competitors or entry level events for first timers who don’t want the hassle of getting involved in a big event. They also offer a chance to try out sea swimming with safety cover on hand as, weather depending, it can be very different to other types of open water. One of the best things about these events is that they start very early and you can be sat in the fantastic Urban Reef café at the start/finish area, having breakfast at 8.30am having already done a triathlon with the rest of the day to spend with the family… (As long as it’s not too energetic presumably!)
TriGear: Which is the longest distance event you offer?
Andy Blow: This year votwo is building on the success of our Eton Man Half Iron distances (1.9km swim, 90km bike, 21.1km run) events with these going on in June and September at Dorney lake.
TriGear: Are you tempted to add anything longer to the schedule?
Andy Blow: We’ve often talked about Iron distance but at the moment we’ve not taken the plunge with that, I would not rule it out in the future though.
TriGear: Do you have a personal favourite event from votwo?
Andy Blow: My personal favourite event in our calendar is probably the Jurassic Coast Challenge. It’s an ultra run (3 marathons in 3 days) along the Dorset coast, with full support along the way including transport, food and drink on course and at the event HQ and usually even a free beer in the evenings! It was inspired by an ex-votwo coach – Paul Hart, who sadly passed away a few years ago, who had run the route in the early 1980s when training for the London marathon. Paul was present for the first couple of JCC’s in 2006 / 2007 and was amazed and delighted by the amount of people willing to tackle such a tough event, having only been able to persuade one other person to run it with him before!
TriGear: What’s new for 2014?
Andy Blow: Most of our calendar for 2014 is building on events we’ve had in the past, though we’ve added a couple of triathlon dates at Eton Dorney and a second Eton Man Half Iron distance race date after the popularity of the 2013 edition. We have a new course for our mid week Silverstone Duathlons (May through to September) using the Grand Prix circuit and pits area, which is very exciting.
TriGear: What’s the one key piece of advice you would give to new-comers?
Andy Blow: The main thing is to not worry about how you will get on – we get all sorts of ability levels at our events and no-one will be watching or judging your performance so you can come along and learn as you go – that’s the best way!
Find out more about votwo events at votwo.co.uk