Austin Hall is a Sundried ambassador who completed the Sprint Plus (Henry VIII) distance triathlon at Hever Castle. He tells us about his experience.
The last race of the season.
Sprint Plus – 800m Swim - 40km Bike - 8km Run
Race Result – 5th Overall, 2nd Age Group, Time: 2hr 12
Registration and Organisation
Hever Castle Triathlon was an important race for me as it was the last race of the season. My first impressions of a Castle Series Triathlon weren’t the best as the road directions to the car park were not clear and therefore took a further 30 minutes than expected to find the car park.
Once there, registration was straight forward and I was soon into transition, but behind schedule. Transition was packed and they didn’t allow you much transition space so the layout of my transition area was different to normal. That said, I did manage to rack in a good position.
By the time I had racked and sorted my kit out it was already 0700 and just 45 minutes until the race brief, so that only gave me 30 minutes warm up time. I wasn’t used to being rushed for warming up and when walking to the race brief I just didn’t feel sufficiently prepared for the start. Start time was scheduled for 0800, but we didn’t start until around 0810, and in that time I felt my body start to cool down and I wasn’t as switched on as I should have been.
Hearing the starter in the water was challenging and my reaction was therefore slow off the line. But I swam hard and fast, but controlled and managed to get myself into 3rd and more importantly onto the feet of the person in second. I have practised drafting a lot during training sessions back at Loughborough, but never been quite able to make it stick during races, so I used the draft to my maximum advantage.
I held onto 3rd (new 800m swim PB) and after a smooth transition found myself in 1st place heading out onto the road. I had done some research into the course at Hever, but it was a lot harder than I expected. It was a very undulating course, with some long medium-gradient climbs. I found it difficult to sustain periods on the aerobars due to the constant climbing and wasn’t confident in my bike handling to stay down on the bars on the descents and corners. The second lap of 20km seemed to drag on but after checking my watch, I was around about where I expected to be.
The bike into transition is horrible, as it is about 150m on gravel and then grass, but I had a great dismount and good transition to the run. That was when it all started to fall apart. The hills on the bike had just taken it all out of my legs and it was the worst feeling I have experienced running from the bike. To make matters worse, I hadn’t sufficiently researched the run course and wasn’t expecting it to be pretty much like a cross country circuit. I just tried to keep my pace as best as I could and managed to come home in 5th overall and 2nd in the age group.
In review, it was the toughest race I have completed. I was very disappointed in my run because I felt training had been going well. But after sitting down with my coach a week later we discussed that my programme should have been altered to get used to the hills. So I have learnt a lot from the race, being that I need to do more research into the course, adjust training accordingly and improve bike handling.