Thursday, 3 October 2013

Hever Castle Triathlon 2013 – Race Report(s)

28th - 29th September 2013

Olympic, Sprint and Kids triathlon.

Also racing in the Sprint with Faye, were Natalie, Angie & Tork. Racing the Kids tri with Elliot, were Mungo, Meno, Ryo and Charlie and Rob’s kids (along with a world record beating 1300 others).

Faye and Elliot had their 1st triathlons booked for some time, I signed up for my race last minute as an end of season blow out to see if I had lost/gained and sprint fitness after a years endurance training. Besides that, I wasn’t quite ready to hang up the aero helmet just yet.

Faye’s Race
Anne Boleyn Sprint S 400M, B 20K, R 4K

Here we go
Faye kicked off the day along with Natalie, in a woman’s only wave of the Sprint distance race.

She swam in my old (pretty threadbare) Blueseventy Helix wetsuit, cycled on her old (fairly weighty) Decathlon mountain bike, complete with cable tie locked forks and wore an old tri suit which had previously been relegated to my ‘training pile’ of tri clothes. 

on to the 12.5 mike bike route
Now it’s fair to say Faye was dreading the swim, having not had a chance to get any open water experience in before the race, infact she was only recently swimming 50M freestyle in the pool. However Faye was pretty sure she could breast/back stroke just as quick if needed (that stubbornness kicking in). She put on a brave face as she entered the water and I must admit, when I saw the rescue boat bring a few swimmers in, I was looking out for my old wetsuit! I needn’t have worried as Faye exited the water quicker than expected, unbelievably still smiling, no doubt pleased that the only leg she had any doubts about was over.

on to the 4K run
looking good

The smile continued through the bike and run legs and then transformed into the ‘game face’ for the finishing straight.


Faye finished 66th out of 126 in her Age group

Elliot’s Race
Henry VIII - briefing

Elizabeth 1st S100M, B 4K, R 1.3K

After lunch it was Elliot’s turn to race. It’s a great tri for kids as it is an open water swim and the bike/run legs are both within the grounds of the Hever estate. After receiving a briefing from Henry VIII, Elliot took to the swim. 

Bring it on!

Despite being a good swimmer, Elliot wasn’t too keen to keep his head under and decided to swim a medley of strokes to exit within the first half of his wave. 


Now where's that bike

Elliot sped through T1 like he had done it a hundred times before, was assisted out of his wetsuit and sprinted off with his bike.

He looked all too casual on the bike (perhaps time for a bigger – faster model, dad?) and it wasn’t long before he rode back to transition. Here he picked up the pace, recording the fastest T2 split of team Weeks.

Just the run to go
ready for the ride

Elliot took the 1.3K in his stride (a tiddler for him), and seemed to get faster as he got closer to the finish, running through the finish arch like a rocket.


Elliot came 164th out of 500 in his Age group

Elliot was pretty shattered but had no time to rest as he had to go straight to the District Cubs swim Gala, where won a silver medal in the Backstroke final. 

Race fuel?

My Race
Olympic Distance

After the stress of Saturdays family athletic endeavours, I wasn't exactly feeling on fire for my race, in fact the support group elected to stay at home and have a lie in.

I had decided to race in the 'opt in' wave as I thought I may have a shout at a top 3 Age Group finish (going by previous years results) and besides it would be great to be in the same race as some pro's (there were 4 from team GB and 4 from team France). I had previously ridden the bike route (on road bike and on TT bike) so I had a good idea of how fast I could go and I also had a fair idea of my xc running pace over 10K. With the long transitions and a quoted lake temp of 15 degrees I cas pretty sure a sub 2:20 was out of the question but having not raced the olympic distance for some time, I was confident I could still get a PB.

Glad to get out the murky water
The briefing (and map) suggested that the 2 lap swim turned around at the 4th buoy but as we entered the water the race director changed this to the 5th buoy, causing a lot of confusion amongst us swimmers. It was a wide swim start line so the risk of a swim fight was reduced and I decided to stay to the outside (swimming a slightly longer but cleaner line). The water didn't feel as cold as expected but was certainly murky - you couldn't see your hands under water! It took longer than usual to settle into a pace and was sighting far too often, however I felt I was moving well. I was hoping for a 23 min swim leg and i'm pretty consistent with my swim times so I was a bit disappointed with my 26 min split. I have a niggling doubt that the course was long (in fact no one, including the Pro's broke 20 mins). The 4th - 5th buoy potential additional length equates to 3 mins at my swim pace. Still no complaints, it was the same for us all.

T1 & T2
Another worry was my transition times, both 2 minutes - and I mean exactly (suspiciously) 2:00 minutes. I really didn't feel like I was hanging around in transition! Anyway enough winging - on with the bike.

Out on the 2 loop (40K) bike course
I had taken the disc wheel covers off the rear wheel as I didn't think the aero advantage was greater than the possible hill climbing weight disadvantage. I had also minimised the tool kit and nutrition.

I started the 1st 20K lap pretty hard but didn't really get into my stride until 20K. I managed to claw back a few places lost in the swim but the roads were very quiet. The 2nd lap was much busier with cyclists from the next wave on the course. This made the racing more interesting and I may have also gained a few more of the lost swim places. I wasn't overtaken on the entire bike leg, which was a good mental boost.

I was pleased with my bike effort, I feel I had pushed consistently hard and still managed to fuel for the run. As I turned into the castle grounds, I slipped my feet out of the pedals and then realised I had another 1/4 mile still to go to the dismount line and it was a smooth transition out to the run.

Finish line sprint

The run course  followed Faye's 4K trail with a 1K deviation and this was obviously doubled for the olympic distance. It was all off road with a mixture of grass, mud and stone underfoot, ant it was definitely not flat. Like the bike, I wasn't overtaken on the run (except for being lapped by 2 pro's), I ran alone for the first lap and passed some runners on their 1st lap when I was on my 2nd. The two pros that passed me were being filmed by a bike cameraman. Now big BMW road bikes are not meant for skinny muddy trails. I was quite expecting to skip over rocks and the odd log but not motorcyclists stuck under a bike - I think it was only their pride that was damaged.

I held on to a good pace for the run leg (6:53 min/mile) but was surprised to pass a 10K marker, with half a kilometre still to run (in a 10K race). I managed to finish with a sprint and went through the arch with the clock saying 2:22. I received my medal from Anne Boleyn and took a sip of the non-alcoholic pint of beer I had been handed (not what I really wanted after a race) and got my time split's printed by the Stuweb (race timing company) guy which had me at 2:24. The Stuweb guy said I was currently 18th in category with later waves still to come in, so i collected the bike from transition and skipped the prize ceremony and went home.

As it transpired I was 2nd in AG (V40-49) and 25th Overall with 808 finishers - 3rd percentile. So despite it feeling slightly disappointing at the time it actually was a good performance. Now to smash the time I need a flat fast course with short transitions - Eton Dorney - September 2014!

Age Group result on STUWEB site