September 1, 2017
Saturday 8th July and travelling to Hever Castle for the 2017 Bastion Iron Distance. Easily found the campsite and setting up base. Facilities all set up for campers and clear signage for registration.
Collected all race numbers, additional information, pre-race goodies , racked bike and then to pre-race briefing. The Briefing was very informative, relaxed even when the BTF rules were explained. I came away from all this process totally relaxed and so looking forward to the Bastion the next day.
Would say like most pre night sleeps, never easy but once Gatwick Airport had stopped for the night, the campsite was so peaceful.
0415 and the alarm clock sounds and now I know this is for real. Breakfast, racked all transition bags and all ready for action. Whilst in T1 we were immediately told that there was a delay due to mist on the lake. Due to this the organisers held open T1 for an extra 15 minutes which helped all those that were cutting it fine. Whilst waiting for the mist to clear and having the swim brief we were continually told on delay and when the race would start.
Eventually at approx. 0625 we were in the water and we were off. Two laps which featured not only swimming in the lake but the river as well. Was great being cheered by supporters as we swam under the bridges, and the swim route was so clearly marked and the spotters on the kayaks were helpful especially when turning and if getting too close to the edge.
Personally for me I took the first lap slowly as to conserve energy, but the second I just wanted to enjoy and have fun so went quicker and must overtook at least 10 to 15 swimmers, even had time to wave to my fellow Tri club members who were supporting on the Italianate loggia waiting for their event.
Out of the water and then so enjoyed the run to T1 through the veranda and seeing all the flowers which was so picturesque, actually forgetting that I had just swam 3.km. Once in T1, Wetsuit off, bike gear on and so helped having the benches to sit on. Found bike with 50 to 70 metres run which included running over the bridge and having the front of hever castle in front of you. Another great view though knowing it would be a while before I would be back due to a 3 lap circuit totally 112 miles.
I was lucky to have trained 3 laps of the course previously so I knew what to expect in the long hills, the poor condition of some of the roads and where to be break down each lap into micro size targets. This was valuable as helped the laps go so much quicker. For the course yes it was hard, over 9500ft of climbing but from Hartfied to Duddleswell, this climb seemed to go on for ever, but wow the view of Ashdown forest from the top was amazing and was the highlight for me on each lap. We were blessed with such wonderful weather.
Once again I could not fault the marshals as so informative, encouraging and with the stop/go boards I knew I was safe when riding. Special mention to the marshals at the Maresfield water stop on my second lap. Due to the weather as getting very hot, they provided an excellent pit stop. Whilst taking on additional water, they covered me in sun cream and placed energy gels in my back pocket. All with encouragement, friendly banter and a smile.
Coming back into Hever castle and knowing I had completed the 112 mile was one of great achievement and that my bike had no mechanical failures which was always a worry. I was given clear direction on when to dismount and hearing all the cheers around I thought I was in the lead. Enjoyed passing over my bike to the marshals to rack whilst I went to T2 to get ready for the marathon journey ahead. Once again inside the tent I was provided with coke and water and asked if ok.
This Castle Team are so caring, though as all triathletes themselves they know what I and my fellow competitors are going through.
Four laps ahead of 10.5km knowing the course would be tough as around 1800 metres of climbing over a mixture of terrain with a majority a x-country route. No wonder they call this the toughest Ironman in the UK.
Again the views, scenery amazing especially from chiddingstone, looking from the castle over the cricket ground. Must say I probably lost a lot of time each lap as I gazed into the distance of such a scenic breath taking view noticing all the different colours with the horizon. Ok I maybe suffering with the heat as so hot, but rather that way than not be able to see it if there was low cloud and rain. This was the hardest as mentally and physically marathon I had done, but the support from the marshals at each point and notably at the feed stations were excellent. For me best ever I had experienced. Even when my stomach would not take any food in at one point I was given great advice on eating a banana, as by mixing it with the water to aid its digestion. As this was my first Ironman I had lots to learn even if I had spent 12 months training for it. Special mention to Ella at the crossover point just after the feedstation. I had so much encouragement and friendly banter and received a congratulation hug on my last lap as I was so close to the finish. The marathon might have took over 5 ½ hours but with all the support and again taking each lap into micro size sections the time went so quick.
The Finish line in sight and the emotions are hitting me. The commentator saying my name as I came in, all the supporters from my Tri Club to friends and all the Castle Triathlon team.
Yes I am an Ironman….. Time of 14.26.59, but for once the time irrelevant as for me it was finishing that counted. This I did not believe would happen and with the medal around my neck I had completed my Dream.
Anything is possible if you put your mind to it and stay positive.
Finally the finish and recovery just showed how good the castle Triathlon team are, and why I would always recommend their events.
I had so much support when I finished with food and drink to keeping warm. Whilst having my post massage my body went into shutdown mode, the quick response I received from the paramedic, physio and castle support team notably Yvonne who stayed with me till I recovered were truly first class. They even located and brought all my transition equipment to me, which had my post-race clothing.
From the Cholmondeley Triathlon event in June2016 when Yvonne mentioned about the Bastion I have completed an amazing journey. Yes there are plenty of Ironman events in this country or abroad with many claiming personal bests to be achieved. But how many can say they have completed the toughest in the UK and one of the toughest on this planet with an organisation and its staff and marshals that provide an awesome service that makes each individual special. This is the event Iron distance to sign up for and have those bragging rights over your fellow triathlete competitors.
Bastion Iron Distance – 2017 Hever Castle