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The Gauntlet, Hever Castle Sept 2018

 
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tin pot




Joined: 08 Jul 2013
Posts: 2590
Location: Bromley

PostPosted: Wed Sep 26, 2018 9:06 am    Post subject: The Gauntlet, Hever Castle Sept 2018 Reply with quote

Hever Castle



Not how it looked at the start of the race!

Itís a beautiful place, but the forecast earlier in the week was as bad as Iíve seen it weather warnings for wind and rain, thunderstorms predicted 10-12 and rain all day. Thursday, Friday, Saturday - fine. Monday and the rest of the week fine, just Sunday was to be awful.

It wasnít unexpected when a text arrived barring deep section wheels, but the restriction to *15*mm was somewhat disturbing...three hours later this was corrected to 50mm.

Having attended this event earlier in the summer, and having not RTFM I was a bit surprised that registration and transition had moved completely, and due to a problem with he car I was running late. Literally running, which turned out to be a good thing. Registration was quick, but the various stickers would not attach to the helmet in the rain, and the bike sticker covered my rear light partially and touched the rear wheel - not ideal. In and racked in a muddy field, a similar state to IMUK last time I did it in 2017. Although no plastic bags were provided this time, which was a good thing as I didnít have time and left my IM transition bag by my bike.

The Swim
Hot from running about in my wetsuit I joined the shivering masses at the lake edge as the briefing started - Iíve been to many Hever Tris and this was no different, cuts to the chase, no #@?# and plenty of humour. The water wasnít that cold, the air temp was the problem. A bit of splashing about to warm up, then standing in the mud waiting for the cannon. Honestly I canít remember if a cannon was used this time, my race brain was on and all that mattered was getting ahead of the slower swimmers. It wasnít long before the first full in punch in the face, but it was also thankfully the last and not much biff at all. Sighting was okay, the overcast sky providing none of the usual glare but the loop involving yellow markers was a bit confusing in the water - I just followed the crowd and thought of Alistair Brownlee.

I couldnít find fast feet but I did nestle with a couple of other guys as we headed into the narrower river. This became a bit of a battle for space and I ended up in front leading a small pack but too far from the group ahead to be worth hammering. The last quarter was clear swimming with a few guys towing and I felt strong coming out of the water. Dizziness hit hard but not if the wretching in past events.

T1
Trotting along the blue carpet and up into the mud I caught some gratitude for the tow Iíd provided but went completely ass over tit and landed with a thump on my shoulders and head. I lay flat for a moment to see if I was seriously injured, and some of the staff came to check me out - rightly or wrongly I staggered to my feet and wobbled off. Iím not sure thereís anything you can do but dizzy swimmers and muddy field make for accidents!
The rain was harder and colder as I tried to layer up with soaking cycling kit, and feet were already losing sensation, through the mud onto the loose gravel and puddles itís not an ideal mounting point but eventually I was clipped in and moving...a mere 11 minutes in transition and most of my good swim down the drain!

Pt2 to follow
_________________
Iron Ď17 16h11, '16 14h30
Half Iron Ď18 DNF, '17 7h39, 6h28 '16 5h53
Olympic '16 3h18 '15 3h33, '13 3h36
Sprint '16 1h17, '14 1h40, '13 2h01
Half Mara '16 2h04, '14 2h07
Trail 10K '16 54:01 '13 54:46
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tin pot




Joined: 08 Jul 2013
Posts: 2590
Location: Bromley

PostPosted: Wed Sep 26, 2018 10:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Bike

What can you say about the bike course?

Well, itís bumpy. Itís not huge climbs, itís the lack of any kind of flat except at one point on a ridge after a long slow climb towards the hairpin that takes you back toward groombridge. Itís pretty much the only point settle in to some speed at your favourite rpm and you can enjoy the Ashdown Forest scenery while youíre doing it. The rest is woodland hills, lots of greenery providing some shelter from the cold rain that persisted for the first 45km lap.

Having had all the weather and kit warning Iíd decided to use my commuter/roadie with 35mm sciroccos, sadly with only a 25 on the back but I was used to it. My main aim was not overbiking as this was one apparent fault in the summer version of this event, recent training had shown that I slip in a few extra efforts on hills that all added up to a lot of time above threshold and VO2max which created a high stress from the bike (TSS 269) and not a great time to show for it. This time I only spent 90s at vo2max and 30 above anaerobic threshold and spent the majority in the ĎEnduranceí zone so I hit my key aim Smile. And with lap consistency only 20 odd seconds difference the only tragedy was my time! Very Happy

Itís a tough and tricky course imo, and itís going to take a few more practice rides to nail for me, particularly how and when to keep the power on in the descents which is a significant portion perhaps even 25-30% of the ride.

Once the rain lifted and the wind hit, eventually I started wondering if I was dragging something against the wheel - but silent freewheeling deterred me from checking. On the second lap I couldnít get into the small ring and the front derailleur plagued me the whole lap. Even so I didnít stop and check, but on the way home I pulled out huge lumps of grass and mud leaving this network of twigs clogging up the derailleur. From transition probably.


_________________
Iron Ď17 16h11, '16 14h30
Half Iron Ď18 DNF, '17 7h39, 6h28 '16 5h53
Olympic '16 3h18 '15 3h33, '13 3h36
Sprint '16 1h17, '14 1h40, '13 2h01
Half Mara '16 2h04, '14 2h07
Trail 10K '16 54:01 '13 54:46
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tin pot




Joined: 08 Jul 2013
Posts: 2590
Location: Bromley

PostPosted: Wed Sep 26, 2018 10:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

T2
I didnít feel too bad coming into transition, but the loose gravel and deep mud was totally unwelcome for dismounting and immediately noticed I had lost all feeling in both legs from the hips down. Those leg warmers were useless still sitting in my transition bag <facepalm> Apart from the dismount it was a pretty short easy affair getting to the rack and plenty of supporters bringing the smiles back and the sun had started coming out.

Squeezed lifeless toes into soaking wet socks and trail shoes (essential!) and heaved myself towards...

The Run
Iím not going to lie. Nearly 4.5hrs in the freezing wind and rain had done me in. My comp had called it 2įC. Heading towards ď#@?# LaneĒ and an elevation you could really do without a volunteer cheerily asked if this was my second lap - I obviously looked that bad already.

#@?# Lane. Itís appropriately named. Itís a #@?# muddy surface, any uphill is going to make you feel #@?# itís only redeeming feature is that there was no audience so observe the misery! Not so in other events were you have to hang your head in shame as people are departing the event faster than you can lift your heels.

But it is short and soon youíre onto a trail, a feed station and of into the Kentish countryside. There is a lot of good in this route; the horse jumping field, Chiddingstone Castle, the lake, nipping in and out of woods, the gravel climb at the end of each loop and of course the Hever Castle itself...but no one will be talking about any of that, they will all be talking about The Mud.

I canít remember when The Mud starts or ends, somewhere around 4km into the loop I suspect. And it seems to go on forever, though in reality probably only a klick or two. You just canít run on it or through it, or at least I couldnít. And with numb legs and maybe concussed already, you donít want all the small muscles firing as you try to keep upright - you just donít. Nevertheless, with one lap down the mood starts to rise, Iím going to make it...I might not be last...all sorts of positive thoughts come out!

The finish
As you turn back into Hever Castle for the last time, the relief washes over you itís just the one last horrible gravel climb and then youíre downhilling towards the finish. This time theyíd moved the finish line so you have to jump it further, right and uphill but the reception felt stellar! Three girls handing out the medals, people cheering, staff assuring me thereís was food and massage available and all of a sudden a microphone in my face as the announcer asked me to relive the last 8(!) hours. I did my best to be coherent and upbeat then headed off for a well deserved chicken curry Smile

Post race
I skipped the massage as I just wanted to get my kit, food and ride home. A young lady gifted me some kind of European waffle and struck up a conversation the event and her Olympic tri which was a welcome catharsis and once Iíd got to the pavilion the open friendly atmosphere continued as I tucked in and chatted to a lady from Salisbury tri and one of the staff. Much better food than Ironman - which is surprisingly important Smile

The hardest event Iíve done, at times it felt like a full ironman, Iím over the moon to have finished and have been given this chance by @5krunner


_________________
Iron Ď17 16h11, '16 14h30
Half Iron Ď18 DNF, '17 7h39, 6h28 '16 5h53
Olympic '16 3h18 '15 3h33, '13 3h36
Sprint '16 1h17, '14 1h40, '13 2h01
Half Mara '16 2h04, '14 2h07
Trail 10K '16 54:01 '13 54:46
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pip




Joined: 22 Sep 2004
Posts: 5125
Location: Tooting (hopefully not for much longer)

PostPosted: Thu Oct 25, 2018 3:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

well done. It was hard enough last year and the weather was ok.
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tin pot




Joined: 08 Jul 2013
Posts: 2590
Location: Bromley

PostPosted: Fri Oct 26, 2018 8:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

pip wrote:
well done. It was hard enough last year and the weather was ok.


Cheers pip. Itís a toughie Smile
_________________
Iron Ď17 16h11, '16 14h30
Half Iron Ď18 DNF, '17 7h39, 6h28 '16 5h53
Olympic '16 3h18 '15 3h33, '13 3h36
Sprint '16 1h17, '14 1h40, '13 2h01
Half Mara '16 2h04, '14 2h07
Trail 10K '16 54:01 '13 54:46
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Toyota_Crown




Joined: 07 Mar 2005
Posts: 15969
Location: Lincoln / Scarborough (Algerino-Land) / Fircombe-on-Sea. sandbagging for daveM

PostPosted: Wed Oct 31, 2018 12:17 pm    Post subject: Re: The Gauntlet, Hever Castle Sept 2018 Reply with quote

Crikey. some day! Bit of a contrast from July! (so warm it was non-wetsuit! Shocked ) Crackin report and effort TinPot Thumbs Up
tin pot wrote:
It wasnít long before the first full in punch in the face
this is always upsetting. Disbelief how many peeps particularly girls does this put of from even doing an OW tri Sad
We all need to have a simple deal with each other. No biff or aggro in the sw1m: I don't punch you and you dont punch me. Simples.
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tin pot




Joined: 08 Jul 2013
Posts: 2590
Location: Bromley

PostPosted: Wed Oct 31, 2018 6:58 pm    Post subject: Re: The Gauntlet, Hever Castle Sept 2018 Reply with quote

Toyota_Crown wrote:
Crikey. some day! Bit of a contrast from July! (so warm it was non-wetsuit! Shocked ) Crackin report and effort TinPot Thumbs Up
tin pot wrote:
It wasnít long before the first full in punch in the face
this is always upsetting. Disbelief how many peeps particularly girls does this put of from even doing an OW tri Sad
We all need to have a simple deal with each other. No biff or aggro in the sw1m: I don't punch you and you dont punch me. Simples.


Cheers, the weather really hasnít been my friend this year - roasted in July, frozen in September. It was worth toughing out though Smile

Hever was pretty good, given itís a wave/mass start - three events Iíve had people pause their swim to apologise at Hever! - but Iím starting to rethink some of my previous events where I ďbrushed offĒ the biff. At IMUK 2017 I came out of the water unable to see properly out of my right eye. At the time I assumed it was something in my contact lens, but it didnít go away when I removed it or replaced it. It went away about twenty minutes into the ride iirc...Perhaps that was a knock Iíd taken.
_________________
Iron Ď17 16h11, '16 14h30
Half Iron Ď18 DNF, '17 7h39, 6h28 '16 5h53
Olympic '16 3h18 '15 3h33, '13 3h36
Sprint '16 1h17, '14 1h40, '13 2h01
Half Mara '16 2h04, '14 2h07
Trail 10K '16 54:01 '13 54:46
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Tri'ing Swimmer




Joined: 15 Nov 2016
Posts: 166

PostPosted: Wed Oct 31, 2018 10:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great write up, thanks for the time gone in, and well done!

As for swim biff, I much prefer mass starts and think the move to rolling waves is taking away some of the spectacle. BUT it needs to be done while some people see aggression as a necessary thing. Can accept there will be accidental clash of hands or swimming shoulder to shoulder, maybe a kick in the hands, but not breastroke legs to head, or punches to head. It serves no one, and only wastes time and energy for the aggressor too!
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Tri'ing Swimmer




Joined: 15 Nov 2016
Posts: 166

PostPosted: Wed Oct 31, 2018 10:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Definitely sounds like a course for only relief at the finish too! Didnít realise Hever was such a toughie.
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