February 2, 2021
“I look forward to racing at Hever every year, it’s always a really special race for me as not only was it my first triathlon race ever but it’s the one I have gradually managed to persuade more friends and family to enter every year. This means that now it’s not only a great race but one I can enjoy with all my favourite people!
When COVID struck in 2020 gradually my race (& social) calendar began to empty. A couple of early running events managed to go ahead before things got bad but because triathlon sits in more of the Spring/Summer, I hadn’t raced a triathlon at all that year… until Hever!
I was so happy that the team managed to organise the event around all the COVID protocols, of which there seemed to be A LOT! Watching Brian’s virtual race briefings and all the associated videos made me a little nervous about the event itself and catching up with my friends and family that were also racing, we were piecing together the new rules and whether we’d be able to cheer eachother along with overlapping times of races.
We stayed close by to make the early start a little easier and arrived in the car park, we managed to get a space super close to the entrance – good start! We were greeted by a really friendly man at the entrance who made sure we were at the right place at the right time and made our way to the first check point. Here we had to have our temperature checked, this got me a little worried as my temperature was actually too hot on first check but it was because I had my beanie on, so after taking some time to step aside and cool down a bit, I had my temperature checked again, I was all ok and we were in! We had to wait in the pen which had been allocated for our starting time, it was all really well organised, everything ran very on time, we all had plenty of space and the event team were super friendly. Right on time, we were released from the pen and made our way up to the registration tent. Again, I was really impressed here. My previous experiences of registration were really long queues for days and people everywhere so I was really happy to see a very short queue, again, lots of space, everything really organised and another set of friendly and helpful event team. We received the race packs and went through to transition. Again, another really good experience, we all had plenty of space and I was happy to experience what felt to me a ‘normal’ transition area, chatting to my surrounding competitors, exchanging stories of previous Hever races and training tales. This calmed my nerves a little and I started to get ready. I was conscious that we only had a certain amount of time in transition before we would be taken to the start line, would I have enough time to faff about with my wetsuit, go for a wee, have another faff with my wetsuit, make sure my nutrition was all in place, remove the covers from my cleats, etc, etc, etc! It turned out I had nothing to worry about, it was of course all fine and I had plenty of time for even the most extreme faffing.
We gathered together and got taken down to the start line. I really liked this new step as on more than one occasion in previous years I have found myself sprinting down to the start and joining Brian’s race briefing in the middle somewhere, the doubting myself whether I was following the yellow or pink signs. Anyway, none of that this year, a man with a big sign rounded us up and led us down to the start area where we had a brief chat from Brian and then it was time to go! It was nice here too to have a chat to some of the other competitors and calm our nerves together. A rolling start was being used, as opposed to the usual mass start of previous years. Again, this change suited me perfectly, I much prefer a calm start, not having to worry about anyone else’s elbow in my face, I quickly found my rhythm and before I knew it I was out of the water and making my way back to transition.
Transition was quiet but I don’t think you really notice when you’re mid-race. I changed, grabbed my bike and was on my way. I did miss seeing friends and family cheering me on but I was in race mode and when you’re on your bike, this section didn’t seem any different from previous years. Except this year my chain didn’t come off! So that was a win!
Back to transition after the ride, I always love the cycle course, it’s challenging but so pretty, it’s one of my favourites but tired legs after those rolling hills! Again, I dropped my bike, changed my shoes and I was off on the run. The run was quiet but the run at Hever has never seemed very ‘busy’ so again, this seemed as normal to me. And that was it, over the finishing line to the cheers of my friend Charlotte and boyfriend, Kieran who were just about to start and just finished their races, so it was great timing and I was happy to see them.
I helped myself to some finish line treats which I’m sure I had earned, collected my medal from the table and dropped my timing chip off on the way out. Another Hever race done.
The village-feel was good, I was worried before the event that there wouldn’t be much atmosphere but the organisers had done a great job of keeping a really good, friendly and fun atmosphere, we enjoyed a beer together before cheering my dad in from his race, closely followed by my mum on her race. All my worries had been for nothing really, I still got to see my friends and family, we still had a lovely day and enjoyed the race and still came away with another medal for the collection. I’m so happy Hever 2020 went ahead and very appreciative to the team for all their hard work to make it happen. I would have no hesitation to enter another COVID-safe event in the Castle Series this year and look forward to racing at Hever again this year!”