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The Half-Iron Distance GAUNTLET is a significant challenge. 70.3 and full distance triathlons are not for the faint hearted. The GAUNTLET at HEVER also combines the difficulty of the distance with one of the harder half-Iron bike courses in the UK.
The race organisation is very good. Lots of helpful people/volunteers/marshals are at every turn. And there need to be lots of them as this is a BIG event. Everything about the organisation is good even down to the goody bag, free race belt, copious gels and wearable T-shirt. It never ceases to amaze me how most event T-shirts will never get worn which kinda negates the point of it all for the sponsors. The Gauntlet T-shirt is a good one!!
A puncture and cramp scuppered my chances of a top5 category finish but I was very pleased considering I haven’t really trained for this sort of thing for much more than this year. Always helps entering in the over-80s age group I find (joking, for the avoidance of doubt).
The Race & Route
HEVER is very picturesque as is the bike and run route. Great opportunities for family-spectators and for things for them to do when you are ‘somewhere else’.
Swim: A pleasant 17 degrees saw everyone in the waves off to a good start. The lake is shallow at the start and the water murky. The entire swim is good fun as there seemed to be lots of fairly pleasant people being mostly considerate whilst still competing – all squished close together! The last 3rd of the swim gets a little hairy as everyone is funnelled into a relatively narrow/shallow moat-cum-canal. Overtaking is not easy, on the other hand BEING overtaken is not easy either.
Bit of a stony run to T1 a fair way away.
The bike course is on public roads but the organisers have the permission to stop traffic. Consequently, other than a puncture and a wee, I never had to stop. The course is not flat. Anywhere. It’s either up or down. Going down is quick, going up is not. Most people will be spending AT LEAST 3 hours cycling, some considerably more. Consequently pacing is key. I paced fairly well, I thought, I could have gone faster (kinda the point of pacing) but probably hit the sweetspot near enough. A power meter definitely helps as does a granny gear at the front if you like spinning (I didn’t have one). Even with a PM, pacing is difficult, there are some fairly long a tasty downhills where you can effectively not pedal and probably go faster (power=0) and on the many hills it is super-easy to hit Zone 5 levels and burn up your cycling matches very quickly (bad).
There are two well organised fuelling stations with water/high5/banana/gels and you can grab a bottle of high5 without stopping having first discarded your own.
Even today, in September, it was hot. Salt replenishment is an issue as well as the more obvious refuelling/hydration issues. For a HIM-type race then caffeine supplementation is required DURING the race.
The run is mostly a trail run with some roads. There’s nothing too steep in the grand scheme of ‘fells’ but, nevertheless, VERY MANY people have difficulty after a hard bike. For some of the hills the majority of people I saw were walking up them – even someone in a GB tri-suit..tut tut (that’s why you don’t wear them at home races). There’s lakes and old houses and villages and the Kent scenery to admire as you run. Nice. It really is.
GADGET: In a recent post I dithered about which kit to use. In the end I went for this inspired choice
- Garmin Edge 820 – worked perfectly (new firmware)
- Garmin 920XT – doh! forgot to set the tri sports properly in the triathlon profile. worked perfectly
- Garmin HRM-TRI – always works perfectly
- Garmin footpod – yeah! I can see how fast I’m running
- ROTOR INPOWER 3D+ and MAS – left side PM crank – perfecto.
- ROTOR QARBON Q-RINGS – awesome oval chain rings.
- Adamo ISM something saddle –
- A newly serviced bike that ACTUALLY CHANGES GEAR – great. That helped today.
Fuel, etc: beetroot juice, salt tabs, caffeine tabs, high5 as provided, lucozde sport, curranz.
Sorry. Very boring. All the watch features I used are available on many other brands.
Post Race: sporttracks (analysis and training load), firstbeat athlete (training load), golden cheetah (power analysis). And I had to use fit file tools to fix the 920XT’s FIT file for some reason. I think I pushed my CP curve up in places…nice.