Hever – GB Middle Distance Triathlon Champs – Race Report

Castle Triathlon Series Hever
Castle Triathlon Series (not )

A hot day and a non-wetsuit swim don’t always combine well the PR/PB abbreviation. And that was what happened today for me at Hever Castle, Kent (UK)…#NoPB

There were lots of races today at Hever: Iron Distance tri; marathon; aquabike; and lots more. I did the Half Iron distance which just also happened to be the GB Champs for that distance and, effectively, also a qualifier for Ibiza 2018, and an as-yet-unannounced 2019 ETU Half. It would probably also qualify you for a middle and/or long-distance duathlon with the usual caveats of finishing within 120% of your AG winners’ time.

GB Age Group champs at most distances now seem to attract a good standard of entrant, sometimes better than for the qualifier events. The trend seems to be for the GB Champs to NOT be a qualifier (except for the AG Winner) hence probably ‘spreading around’ the number of events that are taken seriously by many. The AG winners in the competitive Age Groups tend to be REALLY good.

I get the feeling that sometimes the cost of competing in the ITU/ETU events deters many. as an aside I looked at some of the Fyn duathlon results this weekend too; here is Chris Owens GBR AG Winner (link to:triathlon.org). He is old enough to be many of you readers’ grandfather (no offence, Chris) and he is knocking out a 37 minute 10k at the start of a duathlon, assuming the distance is correct. Awesome stuff.

Back to Hever.

New BTF Logo
Source: BTF

As it was a GB Championship event AND ALSO effectively a qualifier event, there seemed to be no way to fudge the non-wetsuit swim as often happens in triathlons. Also, there were minor course changes to the normal route. The changes were around the Hever Estate, especially transitions and the run route to a lesser extent. The gravelly and humped route for the bikes to and from the main road was thankfully gone and T1/T2 were totally reorganised.

A particularly nice touch was that at the end of the bike some kind volunteer took your bike and racked it for you. More of that please! Of course, that reduces potential chaos in T2 especially as there were other events at the same time.

The Course

It’s all mostly ‘pretty’ with some really great views at times.

  • Swim: In a pleasantly warm and sometimes shallow lake. The water is not clear. For the early part of the swim there are large buoys, however, sighting when looking generally towards a rising sun is tricky but fine. The latter part of the route follows an unusual winding ‘canal?’. The canal is narrow and makes overtaking difficult.
  • Bike: Two laps of a 45km loop give a total ascent of 1450m with numerous Cat10 climbs as described here https://www.mapmyride.com/gb/edenbridge-eng/hever-castle-gauntlet-90km-route-298602935. The road surface is great in places but acceptable in most, it’s better than where I normally cycle in Surrey (just!). If you have a decently light TT bike and the right gears, it’s a TT bike course. It’s well signposted and generally well marshalled.
  • Run: The run is also two well-measured laps with a total 215m ascent. It’s a trail run with many uphill sections where people chose to walk. But not ‘that’ steep, at least not for too long. You could probably add on 15 minutes to your standalone HM time just because of the grade and surface. If you then factor in everything else and you will probably be looking at 30 minutes on top of your standalone HM time unless you are a great runner who went easy on the bike. I’ve only ever run it when the course was dry and thus normal trainers, or whatever you use for a HM, are fine, IMO. Generally well marshalled.
  • T1/T2 well organised and marshalled.

My Day

I wanted a PB/PR but didn’t get one. I exceeded my finishing place target. Yay ! But no medal.

  • Swim: oh dear non-wetsuit swim.
    • Wetsuit strategy was to pretty much go for it. Say 95% effort.
    • Non-wetsuit strategy, made up on-the-fly, was to ease off a bit further.
  • T1: Faffed around helping someone out with their bike
  • Bike: I PR’d this and was pleasantly surprised.
    • I ended up doing 90% of my 12 month best power for the duration.
    • I had set higher target but my actual NP ended up being something like my target average power. My second lap was only slightly lower on the average power measure.
    • It was a Z2/Z3 ride for me looking at power. Only 90 secs were over my FTP on the entire route. I therefore consider that I controlled my power very well on the ascents (as planned). Pedalling was not possible on some of the fast descents with the gearing I had and those periods of creating no power lowered the averages more than I remembered they would.
    • My HR was elevated due to heat, caffeine and other stuff but was pretty much Z2/Z3 but a higher %age of Z3 than my time in power Z3.
    • I stopped once to fill up on High5 and once to check if I had a puncture.
    • Despite fairly hot temperatures, I don’t think the heat affected my bike performance at all.
  • T2: Couldn’t find my trainers. But eventually did. Someone had moved them from a ‘special’ hiding place I’d found in the T2 tent. Grrrr. IMUK had numbered hooks for each entrant, Hever did not.
  • Run: Manageable cramp soon went away after first couple of Kms and then I speeded up a bit. Plenty of frequent and required water breaks progressively added on numerous 10s of seconds

My PR/PB time failure was down to the non-wetsuit swim and T1/T2 faffs. No faffs and I should have finished a place higher but I feel moral superiority by helping someone out 😉 As for the wetsuit…it’s the rules and the same for everyone. Yet it impacts rubbish swimmers the most, I seem to be more rubbish this year than previous years. Or at least that’s how it feels (I’m alright really).

Tapering: It’s a B race so it’s one I wanted to do well in but it’s no big shakes that I haven’t. I hadn’t planned to taper too much but the UK has been very hot over the last week or so and this meant I took it easier than I otherwise might have and hence was better tapered than planned.

Nutrition: I got this spot on for once. Probably more by luck than design. I ate properly in the buildup & on the day. Specifically, I talked to the guys at H2PRO Hydrate and followed their recommendation for salt. This was specifically with a view to fend off the cramps I expected to get. But also proper amounts of salt helps in the heat and can boost blood plasma volumes which, long story short, makes you go faster.

I had the odd gel and sports drink. High5, Lucozade Sport, SiS. dual carbs aside, they’re pretty much all the same and I don’t have to stick to any particular brand. I had a feeling of oncoming GID for only a few minutes and this normally means I’m fully sugared. After that I mostly stuck to water and the odd hard snack.

Supplements: Beet-It, Curranz (discount), caffeine (ProPlus from Tesco), H2ProHydrate. I tried something different with supplementation and had a Beet-It at the start of the run and made a point to take onboard more caffeine than I normally would throughout the race. Caffeine has little positive effect above a certain level but IIRC has a half-life of 4 hours – sadly this race took me and everyone else WAY more than 4 hours 😉

Hydration: I don’t normally take this too seriously in sprint/std races. Hydration is not overly hard to do well enough and neither is nutrition. However today’s heat was forecast days in advance and had the potential for disasters of variously unpleasant kinds over a notably longer distance. I drank only a tad less on the bike than I planned but had a pretty good amount. I tend to use a diluted sports drink as I can’t take the sugariness after a while. But the run was the problem area around midday as the temperatures rose. Most runners followed the strategy of drenching themselves at the frequent water/feed stops as well as drinking a cup or two. Me too. This actually worked really well. I was certainly NOT as hot as I had been in training when tapering in the same sorts of heat. I missed one drenching at a water stop and noticed the difference.

I’d say the H2PRO HYDRATE salts probably helped me hydrate correctly but it was my low cadence, uphill grinds on the bike that set me up for the cramps I had, I don’t think salt helped my overall OK level of cramp (although impossible to say). Plus I could have trained more … as always.


Image Source: dinamic-coaching.com – clicks to source and another article about the Hever course and Tracy Markham


I had my favourite tri-suit from 2015. I have several grazes to show that I need to shave some places and that maybe I’ve put some weight on. Actually maybe it’s shrunk as I haven’t put weight on? Maybe I’m more muscly 😉 ? Usual excuses. Predator Flex goggles.

Wahoo Elemnt on the bike with a standard Wahoo aero mount: Lap time. NP Lap, NP last lap, cadence, HR, 3s power, 30s power, Time elapsed. A bike computer is bordering on essential for me rather than relying on a wrist watch.

Relatively old and relatively heavy but rigid Speccy carbon-framed TT bike. It is old BUT still looks cool enough 😉

Mavic CXR deep section (60mm) on the front wide with a 23mm special Mavic clincher tyre for the wheel, 80mm rims  on the rear with a tubular tyre. I think the rear was deflated slightly. I aimed for 90psi 30 mins before racking on the assumption that a hot day will increase that. Of course a slight puncture will decrease it ! And did!

Speedfill hydration system mounted to the water bottle cage bolts on the frame with custom velcro to fix it to the aerobars. I’m a bit rubbish at drinking from a bike water bottle, hence the aerofill. I quite like it and it helps a ‘frequent sip’ tactic. I have used the various systems that go in between the aerobars like NATHAN and PROFILE DESIGN.

ISM Adamo saddle. Ideal if your bits hurt…or just get a bike fit.

Carbon cranks and the Favero Assioma DUO PM. Essential and awesome.

My new 11 speed Shimano chain was sweet on the Ultegra gears.

Ultegra 10 speed – some hacks and a bit of OWS

Garmin HRM-TRI Awesome. Essential.

Garmin Forerunner 935 in GPS-only mode, just as a recording device. Oh I set a power alert on the Garmin at my FTP as I didn’t want to go over that. The Garmin’s battery went below 50% which would be a ‘bit of a worry’ if I were doing a full IM race…luckily I’m not. I suppose any old waterproof running watch would have sufficed if you think about it?

Garmin Forerunner 955 Review Solar ☀️ the real deal for triathlon

STRYD. On the Garmin I had 3s power, HR, elapsed time and instant pace (from STRYD). WIth some other bits and pieces on different screens  eg total race duration. Bordering on essential for me.

STRYD Review, 10,000km Update – (Dual-) Running Power ⚡ Pod

Kit Performance: It all worked. That’s why I used it.


I had a Shimano 32T cassette on my bike. I needed something bigger (or something smaller on the front). Hence the low cadence up hills I mentioned earlier. Having done the route before I knew what I was going to get on the cadence demands so I knew I had to live with stupidly low cadence at times. I had planned to use my road bike but I like my TT bike and couldn’t be bothered to faff around changing chainrings (which then require the front derailleur to be reset etc etc…just for one race). I like bike electronics and NOT bike mechanics.

Interesting Bit

I’ve been chatting with coach Chris Hague (a STRYD Academy coach). I’ll probably post something he’s going to send through to me this week about how to set your TARGET POWER for bike and run. In a standalone flat and windless race it’s relatively straightforward. But to set a proper target on the bike in a triathlon you’d probably need Best Bike Split, a decent weather forecast and a penchant for maths.

But most people just aren’t going to do that. Even if you do just that, then vehicular traffic and junctions can play havoc with your plan.

So my question to Chris was ‘What should your target average power be across the various duathlon and triathlon race distances”. I’ve never seen that OBVIOUS question answered to my satisfaction (here is where you use Google and point me to lots of websites 😉 )

Chris’ answer for a HIM run lies between 80-92% FTP. For my RUN and my BIKE (above), both efforts turned out for me to be near exactly 90% of my BEST CRITICAL POWER for the race duration (not the same thing). So mid to low 80s %ages of my FTP. I’m not comfortable, for me, with using FTP as a predictor of CP. I’m DEFINATELY notably better at sub 1 hourish races than the longer ones. My cycling and running are probably about equally as strong at the moment, however I’ve never really done a ‘best’ multi-hour effort for either bike or run. So my CP would be a bit higher if I properly measured it and hence the %age CP I achieved in the race would be a bit lower than the 90% but I don’t reckon I’d get my CPs up too much more if I measured them









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