This was going to be my last tri of the season – usually we go to Dorney Lakes for the final race so that Coach 2 can collect conkers (it’s a strange world we live in!!!).
We travelled up to East Grinstead on the Saturday & found our accommodation. We then headed off to Hever Castle to do a reccy. I have to say that this is a lovely location for a race. Myself & Coach 2 then wandered around Hever Castle, learning all about Henry VIII & Ann Boleyn (Starmie is now getting very intellectual – probably won’t last very long though!!). After we had checked out the lake, the transition & the athletes village, & the first part of the run course, which luckily for me had a few conker trees which would keep Coach 2 happy, we then drove the bike course & then headed back to East Grinstead for our evening meal.
Race day dawned cold & misty (5am wake up call). Admittedly I wasn’t in until 9am but as we had about a 10min or so trek from the car park to transition we figured that it would be better to arrive early than late. Also, we had to enter the car park down a narrow country lane & had guessed that it would be busy, which proved to be correct, but with our forward planning we arrived in plenty of time.
I then entered transition for a straightforward set up & feeling quite relaxed about the day ahead. I then went for a run warm up along the run course & found a cheeky little hill, which I was pleased about as I’d discovered it before the race & not during the race. I then headed off to the swim start for the race briefing only to find out that my wave (Wave 3) had been delayed by 15mins because of the fog on the bike course covering the tops of the hills of the Gauntlet bike course. These guys were due to start two waves ahead of mine. So I just spent a bit more time on my pre-swim warm up routine. Eventually we got into the water & I settled myself to start on the far right hand side. The swim course was a lake start which then, after about 400mtrs, had a tight left hand turn into a very narrow stream which eventually headed back into the lake. It did get a bit tight in places along the stream section with all of the other bodies around me, but luckily not too many problems occurred.
Out of the swim with a very long run into T1, up a hill, all on grass. T1 went quite smoothly but I then had another long run with the bike towards the mount line. My only issue with the race was we then had to ride a 100mtrs all over loose gravel to get to the road section (some people were carrying their bikes to avoid doing this – I wasn’t one of them as I just got on with it).
Once out of the Castle grounds it was a two lap bike course. Everything settled down OK on the first lap but on the second lap I had a couple of issues with cars going along the country lanes – the issues being that they were not able to overtake the cyclist in front so that held me up a bit, but I wasn’t going to do anything silly, so just sat in & bided my time. This was a good bike course with a couple of good climbs, one being 3K long, & fast descents. So overall, I really enjoyed the bike ride.
Into T2, across the same gravel track, with a spectacular dismount as I applied a bit too much back brake on my dismount on grass so the back end of the bike started to drift away from me while in dismount mode. I managed to keep hold of it & I gave myself an “8” for style. Another long run to get into T2 & another smooth transition.
I then headed out onto the two lap, mostly off road, run. The gentleman that I spent quite a lot of time with on the bike soon ran past me. I tried to hold on to him but that didn’t happen so I just settled into my own rhythm. It didn’t seem that good on the first lap & I put that down to working very hard on the second lap of the bike course, but once onto the second lap of the run the legs started to come back to me & then I started to catch some people, which was pleasing. As well as the hill that I found out about at the beginning of the run, they had also put one at the back end of the run course as well (cheeky). This was a little bit leg-sapping. But this was the same as the bike course – I really enjoyed it.
My splits are as follows: Swim – 26:19; T1 – 1:39; Bike – 1:10:45; T2 – 1:33; Run – 41:45
27th overall (out of 1091 competitors for this race distance) & 4th in my age group
On the whole, the weekend was great. We both enjoyed our time at Hever and will definitely do it again.