1 castle, 7000 athletes. In just seven years the Hever Castle Triathlon has established itself as an essential destination for British and international triathletes as the second biggest triathlon in England and it returns 24 - 25th September.
Set in the picturesque venue at Hever the castle grounds create a perfect venue for elite action and a festive atmosphere.
The event also holds the title as the world's largest children’s triathlon with 1,600 youth athletes. As in previous years, the children’s races are split over two days (8-10 year olds on Saturday afternoon and 11-15 year olds on Sunday afternoon).
For 2016, the Gauntlet Half Iron Distance will be back with a vengeance; over 850 signed up for the perfect September autumn day in 2015.
The races will again commence an open-water swim in the spectacular 38 acre Hever Castle Lake and River Eden, transitioning into the 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 mainly off-road run tours the estate and castle grounds before athletes make the dash to finishing chute beside the lake.
Each race distance has a castle themed name from the Anne Boleyn to the Henry VIII.
Saturday 24th September 2016
Sprint Plus - Henry VIII: Distance: 800m/40km/8km. Price: Solo: £90.00 / Team: 140.00. Start Time: 08:00.
Super Sprint - Anne Boleyn: Distance: 400m/20km/4km. Price: Solo: £80 / Team: £130. Start Time: 10:00.
Starter Sprint: Distance: 200m/15km/2km. Price: £70.00 / 110.00. Start Time: 11:00.
Childrens (8-10): Distance: 100m/4km/1.3km. Price: £30.00 / 50.00. Start Time: 14.00.
Sunday 25th September 2016
Half Iron / Middle Distance: The Gauntlet: Distance: 1.9km/90km/21km. Price: £180.00 / 240.00. Start Time: 08.00.
Olympic / Standard: The Hever: Distance: 1.5km/40km/10km. Price: £100.00 / 150.00. Start Time: 09.00.
Junior (13-15 yrs): Elizabeth 1st: Distance: 300m/8km/4km. Price: £40.00 / 50.00. Start Time: 14.00.
Race Day Preparation
Race day can be a nerve wracking experience for the most experienced of athletes, so it’s important to make sure you arrive with plenty of time to get your set up right and familiarise yourself with the transition zones.
Registration takes place 1.5 hours prior to your race start where you will be given a number that will be body-marked, you will also be provided with your race pack, which will have bike numbers for your helmet and bike, these must be fitted prior to entering the transition area.
When you leave your bike in the transition area they will check your brakes and helmet, before giving you the go ahead to make your way to your designated spot. After racking your bike entrants make their way to the swim start, where there is a short brief before setting off.
You will be provided with a race chip to record your timings which needs to be returned upon completion of the course.
The swim is a stunning route through the clear castle lakes.The swim start is very picturesque, taking entrants on a walk through the gardens before they meet the water's edge.
Due to the scale of the event, the volume of competitors starting in each wave is significant with around 400 swimmers per wave, dependant upon your distance
The steps leading down to the lake can often get slippery and so it is recommended that you either sit down to enter the lake, or do so very slowly. The start is crowded but after the first few buoys the pace is set and entrants separate more down the lake. The course is supported by crowds on the riverbanks and bridges over the lakes making this a really motivating swim. The course is dredged beforehand to ensure this is the clearest route possible, with a winding route around the castle gardens.
As you exit the water to your transition zone there are plenty of marshall to help drag you onto the dry land, as well as carpeting on any rough terrain to protect bare feet.
When the course notes describe this route as ‘challenging’ they aren't lying. No sooner than you exit the castle grounds, you hit your first hill. The course is well lined with marshalls, drinking stops and feeding stations. Traffic is controlled at junctions to prevent major stops within the race.
The run is also a challenging course, with winding laps around the picturesque grounds and various terrains to adjust to. Trail trainers are recommended as the majority of the course is off road. The lovely scenery is a great distraction from the technical terrain and the course finishes in the spectacular setting of Hever.
Post event there is a village set up with all things triathlon to explore, with food and drinks and a full day's entertainment, plus the castle grounds, gardens and mazes.
Testimonials (taken from Castle Tri)
If you’re not convinced already, here’s what last years competitors thought:
“I just wanted to extend a huge thank you from everyone at Windrush. This was our best club champs yet and we had a fantastic weekend. The race was very well organised and everyone from our new juniors and adults doing their first tri, to our seasoned racers said they enjoyed themselves. You were all so friendly and supportive throughout the weekend and we really loved all the cheering in the finish area. Thanks for being so accommodating” Windrush Triclub.
“I just wanted to say what a fantastic weekend we had at Hever. It was my very first open water triathlon (only done 2 traithlons ever before and that was this year at the age of 58). My son took part in the Olympic distance – his first ever – and my daughter took part in the Anne Boleyn. Most of my close family came to support us and we all had an amazing weekend. Everything was well organsied – the marshalls and all the volunteers were so helpful and nothing seemed too much trouble for them (I even asked for help to get my borrowed wet suit off as I have very bad arthritis in my hands and they were so helpful). Needless to say we are all very keen to take part again next year in spite of the fact that the course was so very very hard. Thank you for making such an amazing event!” Mary Johnson.
“I absolutely LOVED the new swim course! That was a fab alteration, and made the swim so much more interesting than most of the other swims you get at UK events. Will definitely be back to race next season, I think I may even take on the Iron distance event early season… We’ll see!” Eli Thorogood.
“Finishing some half Ironman distance races and one full IM in 2013, this one was the most challenging one. But: cruising on my bike on Saturday, spending time at Chiddingstone, having a chat with the volunteers en route, good food at the pubs and the tea house, a perfect host at my accommodation and a well organised event over two days encouraged me to finish the Gauntlet. Moreover, the smiles of the competing kids are something I will never forget! The goosebumps on the finish line was THE highlight out of my races in 2014! WELL DONE ALL OF YOU –let me again congratulate you for putting something together in a wonderful countryside within one of the most iconic settings I’ve ever seen.” Alex Kallasch.
For more information or to enter, visit the link for the Castle Tri Series website.
The Hever triathlon calls all triathletes from novices to Olympic athletes and promises to be a fun filled event for all, it even has it’s very own children's triathlon.
This is a truly British event, as much a festival as it is a triathlon, with plenty for visitors to do, it’s a wonderful day out in a beautiful setting.