Date: 28th and 29th of September 2019
Location: Hever Castle, Hever Rd, Hever, Edenbridge TN8 7NG
Event Type and distance:
Sprint Plus Triathlon 800m swim - 40km bike - 8km run
Super Sprint Triathlon 400m swim - 20km bike - 4km run
Starter Sprint Triathlon 200m swim - 15km bike - 2km run
Amenities: Medal for every competitor, chip timing, festival with entertainment and food for spectators
Entry Price: £70 - £95
Hever Castle Triathlon has established itself as an essential destination for British and international triathletes and the mainstream media for its picture-postcard venue, elite action, age-group choice and festival atmosphere. Put simply, instant classic doesn’t do the Hever Castle Triathlon justice.
The races commence with an open-water swim in the spectacular 38 acre Hever Castle Lake and River Eden, transitioning into the undulating cycle that takes athletes around a circuit through the High Weald of Kent, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and up to the stunning Ashdown forest for the longer distance races. The largely off-road run circumnavigates the estate as well as taking runners through land owned by the Bellhurst Nature Conservation Trust (the majority of this section is not on public rights of way), then returning to the award-winning castle grounds before athletes make the dash to the tree-lined finishing chute beside the lake.
Hever Castle is steeped in history, dating all the way back to 1270 and being strongly linked to the Tudors, including Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn. It has also been the backdrop to several films, including The Princess Diaries, and provides a picture-postcard setting for this fantastic event.
Sundried ambassador Conal McBride is an Ironman triathlete who completed his first 70.3 race back in 2011. He tells us about winning the Bamburgh Middle Distance Triathlon 2017 which is part of the Castle Triathlon Series and takes place in Northumberland, England.
I actually decided to do this race very last minute. Only thirteen days previously I had been forced to drop out of Ironman Maastricht-Limburgh part way through the run section. So I decided to take the risk of being fatigued and entered anyway. Bamburgh Castle is a Grade I listed building and is the largest inhabited castle in the UK. It provided a stunning backdrop for this event and it was organised brilliantly.
Race morning brought very heavy winds and choppy seas and I soon realised that the wind would become the theme for the day. The swim was an out and back 1900m sea swim with the return leg against a strong current. One lone swimmer led the racers and I comfortably settled into the chase pack. I was happy to exit the water in 4th position with a time of 32 minutes before the long run to transition.
The bike was two loops of a 45km undulating circuit. However, very strong winds made for a white knuckle ride for the day. It was mostly a lonely bike for me until 60k when another rider caught me and we rolled into T2 together. I was happy to post a 2.45 split. The wind made sure the times were modest.
A quick transition and I was on the run course in 2nd place and feeling strong. The announcer informed me I was exactly 5 minutes down on the lead. I settled into a good rhythm and started to tick off the 4-loop 21km run. It wasn’t long before the previous exertions at Ironman Maastricht-Limburg and heavy winds started to take their toll. I kept on top of the nutrition and started to drink coke. The course at Bamburgh is a mix of trail and golf course and has one stretch of soft sand which, for me, was the most testing part of the day. I managed to hold on for the win with a 1:30 half marathon split.
I wore the Sundried pro triathlon suit for this race. It fits like a glove and regulates body temperature very well. Thank you Sundried! Now for a break from the longer triathlon stuff and time to hit the trail races for the winter.
About the author: Conal McBride is an Ironman triathlete and Sundried ambassador.