I was offered the opportunity to compete in Hever Castle Tri so I snapped it up (it was for a good cause after all). I'm not a regular fundraiser; I find the task of persuading friends and colleagues to part with cash more daunting than the event itself. So the concept behind Do Nation really appealed - taking on a challenge and asking others to make a lifestyle change to reduce their carbon footprint. It's simple stuff we should all be doing anyway like turning the lights off or switching off your computer, but the Hever Tri challenge helped to give our efforts some focus and friend and colleagues were quick to get on board.
So, with sponsorship well underway and pledges ranging from lagging the loft to running to work, it was down to me to get some training done. I headed out on the bike in early August and I was pleased for the change from running after marathon training and my fitness improved. I built up the rides and even did the odd run off the bike. Following the 'train to your weakest discipline' strategy I totally neglected swim training (my strongest), and in the end was most nervous about the swim on race day.
Hever Castle is set in beautiful scenery deep in the Kent countryside. As I arrived the Gautlet competitors were heading off down to the race start with a small matter of a ½ Iron Man to complete – my event feels tame in comparison (RW Deputy Editor Joe Mackie was amongst the Gautlet competitors, look out for his in-mag race report in an upcoming issue). The swim start has a dramatic backdrop; it's definitely worth entering just to swim in a lake dug out by hand for Henry VIII, with the castle behind you.
I was in the first wave along with around 400 others including the elite French and British team. After a quick race briefing, we took a deep breath and plunged into the cold lake. The water temperature was reported to be 14 degrees – it felt absolutely freezing to me.
The horn sounded and around 400 triathletes thrashed to the first buoy. A very physical start as everyone fought for position and I wondered if I would make it to the first buoy, but once the early jostling was out of the way, I settled into a rhythm and really started to enjoy the swim. Not pushing too hard I had plenty left in the tank as a finished the swim to head back onto dry land.
Out onto the bike course and within the first two miles we hit the first (of many) hills. The course notes described the route as 'challenging' translated in layman's terms as hard work. Not a course for the faint hearted, one hill is neatly followed by the next. Despite the hills, the miles ticked by quickly and I was able to enjoy the setting and the fantastic scenery.
With the bike successfully completed there was just the small matter of a 10K run. Out of transition we went straight off onto a nice steep muddy hill. This is where the hard work really began, there was no let up with tough terrain underfoot the whole way round. With the finish line in site, I gave a final push to finally complete the course. No PB's here, but I feel satisfied I've achieved a lot and I've given it my all.
After a fun filled day I've completed an Olympic Tri and (with my support crew) we've saved 496kg of Co2. Not a bad day's work!