Favourite Tri's: Hever Castle Triathlon + Eton Sprints

I was thinking of my favourite races of the last few years and various races at Eton always stand out as they’re flat and fast – especially my Sprint Tri PB qualifying for Chicago last year. Those are definitely my favourite racing conditions, even better if there’s no wind and it’s all downhill.

The Gauntlet Half Ironman Triathlon

Click to enter 2x free places competition (May 2016)

Turning to The Gauntlet: WELL after the DOMS wore off I was left with some great memories of The Gauntlet Half-Iron distance race at Hever Castle (Kent). It had the feel of a great, well organised event…1,000s of people. Lots of ‘Big Race’ feel without the stress and bureaucracy that can go with the ETU/ITU age group champs – similarly Big events but with a totally different feel.

Sure you can usually fit a holiday around an ITU/ETU championship event but Hever Castle is probably closer to home for most of us, considerably cheaper overall AND it is in the beautiful countryside of Kent and the rather pretty grounds of Hever. Boleyn’s lot were from there.

Competition: 2x Free Places For Hever’s Gauntlet 2016 (here) – links elsewhere on this site.

Both Eton and Hever seem to be able to handle thousands of cars quite well with free parking, so you get there and park with no hassles and no additional parking charges, which is nice. Its a fair walk for both to get from the car park to the registration but pleasant in both cases. I usually have to carry one thing more than I wanted to and end up wishing I had bought one of those tribox things that fit on your frame. They don’t look cool but are probably super-practical.

Even at the Eton tri qualifier though there wasn’t that much of an atmosphere last year and there’s not that much to have a look at for friends and family. Hever had quite a lot of stands and of course the castle grounds to wander around.

September at Hever is going to start off chilly. You’ll probably manage some nice views of an early morning mist-covered lake. Nice when you start the swim in pitch balck and muddy water…soon into the clearer stuff though.

Competition: 2x Free Places For Hever’s Gauntlet 2016 (here) – links elsewhere on this site.

The swim is a great big loop of the main lake followed by a rather fun soujorn down a canal that isn’t really wide enough to get the number of people down that try to race through. Good natured elbowing and kicking ensues, perhaps most usually cock-ups rather than occasionally over competitive ‘international’ age groupers.

Having walked transition you, of course, find your bike straight away and head off for the roads of Kent. There’s two great big hilly laps. It is pretty much either up or down all the way. Some nasty little hills, actually some quite long ones I recall. After about 15 minutes I realized that I’d got the wrong cassette on the back. Oh dear. You can guess the rest. Actually I was generally Ok even with the wrong ratios but it took more out of me than I realised. By the end of the second lap you join up with the Olympic competitors who invariably speed past you at breakneck speed.

Ah transition again. Walking this time.

The run is also two laps and is rather pretty going past country pubs (in the estate I think??) and running with cows in various green pastures. A bit like Kevin Costner’s Dances With Wolves but less romantic.

The run is mixed terrain and, on the day, was mostly firm. There were ‘hills’ but nothing too silly and perhaps best described as undulations. Great noisy finish and lots of goody-bag nutrition as well as a wearable T-shirt that looks quite nice.

Of course you can always do the even longer Iron-distance event instead. Hmmm. Not this year.

 

 

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