The Gauntlet at Hever Castle

Triathlon

  • Hever, United Kingdom
  • 08. July, 2018
  • Rating:

    4/5

  • 112.9 Km

    Middle
112.9 Km Middle
1.9 Km
90 Km
21 Km

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About the race

The Gauntlet at Hever Castle

The Gauntlet

1.9km/90km/21km – Half iron distance race.

The Festival of Endurance at Hever Castle will host the 2018 British Triathlon Middle Distance Championship.

This middle distance course is made for a National Championship with the 1.9km swim will involve a single loop taking in the main Hever Castle lake and a tributary of the river Eden (being dredged in Autumn 2012 & 2013). The 90km cycle (2 loop course) winds its way through the stunning High Weald of Kent and the Ashdown Forest.

The 21km run course is 2 loops of 10.5km, will take in the existing 5km Hever Castle Triathlon course but with a 5km extension via tracks and bridle paths though the historic local village of Chiddingstone. The course includes a strong off road element which allows a highly inspirational setting often praised and welcomed by the elite triathletes.

The results from this event can be submitted for general Age Group selection to the 2019 ETU Middle Distance Triathlon European Championships.

Those athletes that become the British Triathlon national champion in their age group will automatically pre-qualify to the 2019 ETU Middle Distance Triathlon European Championships! Please note to be eligible for a National Championship medal, you must be a member of British Triathlon.

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The Gauntlet at Hever Castle The Gauntlet at Hever Castle

19 Review(s)

Review this race

Organisation

Registration process

Race briefing

Logistics

Quality of feed stations

Value for money


Course

Natural beauty

Course uniqueness

Ease of navigation

Local support

Marshal supervision

Safety

Paul Mason

Completed as a first timer in 2018

4.1

Mixed feelings about this race. But a BTF Gold!

Staff and team were excellent!  I'd like to state that first.  Fantastic support, very friendly, and incredible helpful.  Without them, I think this race would be rated different.  Well done!!!

Overall Experience was also excellent, with the small triathlon village, plenty for others to do, and a really nice “big Triathlon” vibe. Great work.

Only a few of points to raise.

1.  Logistics.  I thought the split transition was unnecessary, being only a 200m apart.  This made the race a little more complex than required.

2.  The Swim.  The river part was interesting, and fun, but not a good option for a British Triathlon event as the river was congested by slower swimmers from the wave before. It also came up long, with several people recording 2.1K. That’s OK, but does favour the swimmers a little.

3.  Road surface was dreadful, and possibly a dangerous on the decent.  I would be much better to reroute the bike course if possible.

Other than them points, I did enjoy the race.  I decided to label it "Beautiful and Brutal!".  With hot conditions, it was probably the toughest 70.3 I have done.  Loved the run course though, but my guess is most probably didn’t. I was happy to go away with the 45-49 Male Gold.

 

Posted on 10.07.18

Ashley Smith

Completed as a first timer in 2018

5

Marathon 23 completed

The Gauntlet at Hever Castle

With Beachy Head planned as my 25th (and possibly final) marathon I needed one more local race.  Hever Castle was just 30 minutes away so ideal.  The event had loads of parking, a swift efficient registration process and fantastic start outside the castle.  

Although the course pacing warns that competitors should allow an extra 30 minutes to their road (flat course) time, I didn't consider it to be too hilly at all.  The terrain was lovely and even though this is a four lap course it is still far better than most of the much larger, and massively over-rated city runs.  Brighton, Manchester, are single lap but just plain boring courses.  This event is not, and I loved it.  Although there aren't masses of spectators those that were there were brilliant, again a positive point on a multi lap course is that you start to build a rapport with some.

It was a hot day, a very hot day, but there were enough well stocked feed stations that had coke, isotonic drinks and water, plus water buckets with sponges that enabled competitors to cool down.  The feed stations alos had lots of sweets, cake etc. for those needing solids.

The course passes a lovely pub in Chillingstone that became my motivator for finishing, the thought and reward of a cold Guiness, which I sipped while being able to sit and cheer on the Iron Men who were still competing and chat to other competitors who had finished.

So as a competitor this event is a massive hit... But what about the spectators?  I'm pleased to say that my wife had a lovely day, the event village with live band and food outlest, lots of seats, a tour around the castle and gardens and so many events taking place meant the day flew by.  Again a really huge plus point for this event.  

Both my wife and I are signing up for next year, and will be looking at other events by this organisor.  We have also posted positive reviews on our club website so expect to see more Orpington Road Runners in the future.

Posted on 10.07.18

Kiara Gorst

Completed as a first timer in 2018

4.7

What a fantastic first tri!!!

a wonderful first half iron man!!  I can't fault the organisation that went into the planning of the 'festival of endurance'.  A slight delay in the start times but I think this was due to the amount of competitors registering in the morning. A fantastic wetsuitless swim in the beautiful lake followed by a gently undulating cycle and hot and dusty sweaty run in the beautiful  Kent countryside. The food stations were plentiful, staffed by helpful and friendly people (even running after me with water when I couldn't unclip!!! And doing up my bottle lid for me!!) The Marshalls were all absolutely brilliant and deserve a special mention for staying out in the very hot sun to make sure we all stayed safe and didn't get lost. BIG thanks to all involved for making my first half such a brilliant experience!!!

Posted on 09.07.18

Rob Burgess

Completed as a first timer in 2018

3.5

A good event in a great part of the world, with a few areas to improve on:

A good event in a great part of the world, with a few areas to improve on:

* The on-the-day registration...what went wrong there!? People queing for ages led to the Gauntlet being delayed

* Camp site - no running water in the toilet block....seriously! That was quite an experience.

* Only two showers for the entire camp site

* Only a couple of people on the car park entrance. This led to queues for spectators getting in to the event, which unfortunately was on exactly the same road as the bike course == not good!

* Bike dismount line - It wasn't obvious where this actually was. A number of the leading riders went straight over it and had to come back....they weren't happy! It took a while for the correct sign to actually be put out. Also, at one point a spectator somehow managed to drive down the same road as the cyclists were dismounting on....how did this happen?

Posted on 09.07.18

Gerrit Lauber

Completed as a first timer in 2018

5

Simply loved it!

The Gauntlet at Hever Castle

This was one of the best days of my life! Thank you so much for everything! And thank you so much for being very patient and friendly and bear with all my questions. 

It was my first half distance and I really really enjoyed it! It was a blast and I had so much fun! It was a dream, a rush and was finished way too quickly. I loved it!

You have a wonderful and extremely friendly team and I enjoyed the cheering and after race chats very much. 

The beauty of the scenery was breathtaking and all my fears just melted while racing. A part of my heart will stay in Hever Castle! 

Cheers and thank you sooooo much! I hope to come back

 

 

Posted on 09.07.18

Annie Rebindaine

Completed in 2018

4.6

All in all a good day out

Swim was filthy, was covered in silt and pond scum and couldnt see my own hands let alone other triathletes in the water. 

Bike was gently undulating ...

Run mixture on sun baked fields and shady trails.

 

Posted on 09.07.18

Susan Mcmaster

Completed as a first timer in 2018

3.6

No wetsuit

...

Posted on 09.07.18

Joseph Mulhall

Completed as a first timer in 2018

3.4

Good but could do better

Hever Castle Gauntlet event is a friendlier affair than an Ironman event, but in some of that is a lack of organisation that creates some risks.  I will be racing there again in September, but a few things they could improve on;

Camping

There was no one there at all in any official capacity the whole time I was there. Not good for safety or security.

One functioning toilet for the men.

No labelled potable water source.

 

Barriers and directions at T1.

The registration makes no mention of a bag drop, last minute I was told to use it but there is no security whatsoever.  Unless they change this I strongly advise you not to leave anything you don't mind having stolen.

No directions from T1 to the race briefing.

Walking to the briefing I noticed someone running towards me...it was the first ironman competitor out of the water with no one clearing the way.  As I left the water about an hour later there were still spectators milling about getting in the way.  The surface is smooth, wet stone...could use a mat for confident running.

Road condition

The road surfaces at times are dangerous.  Unmarked pot holes, missing tarmac, combined with dappled shade you can't tell what you're going to be cycling through most of the time, and on tri bars it's risky and stressful. Overheard lots of competitors complaining about this.

It's a recommended fun, family event, but people are making a lot of money from this and they really should be paying to sort some of this stuff out.

Posted on 09.07.18

Kieran Fitzpatrick

Completed as a first timer in 2018

3.6

Local event with a big race feel

The Gauntlet at Hever Castle

Hever has long been on my list of "must do" events. As a local athlete, I know the bike course like the back of my hand and was looking forward to the challenging off road run.

Organisation was slightly chaotic in the build up to the race with athletes competing in mutliple events all attempting to rack. The delayed start was slightly inevitable so no need to get unduly stressed. The briefing might have been brilliant but the majority of athletes showed a lack of respect and continued chatting throughout. Shame. The "Loggia" presents an impressive backdrop for the swim and distinguishes the race from so many others.

My heart sank when I heard it was going to be a non-wetsuit swim... as a weaker swimmer, this is the stuff of nightmares! Hardly surprising, given the recent hot weather. Several elite competitors were overhead grumbling about the lack of notice / having not brought their swimskin for the occassion. I swim like an octopus in its pyjamas and this probably added a further 10mins to my split.

The bike route should not be underestimated. An honest course with plenty of climbing. Road position of some competitors left much to be desired, often descending in the middle of the road. Open roads meant there were a number of hold ups with cars unable to pass. Luck of the drawer and, in reality, I probably didn't sacrifice too much time by being patient.

Split transition with volunteers racking your bike led to a swift T2. Fun run route along local trails, undulating rather than anything ridiculous. Water stations were sufficient... one suggestion: Volunteers to slap on suncream as you leave the tent as per other branded events (Outlaw / IM)?

After my horror show in the water, I enjoyed decent bike and run legs to record a respectable time overall. I was never going to be in the mix with the fast boys at the front (Sam Wade was almost an hour clear!) but it was a bonus to be racing at a BTF Championship Event.

Feedback from others competing is that the organisers may have bitten off more than they can chew with the "Festival of Endurance" format - however, this also contributed to the big race feel. Entry is not cheap and you might argue that better VFM can be found elsewhere. I would recommend this to any local athlete who is after a premium event for an ever so slightly less than premium price. I had a great day out and will probably be back for more!

Posted on 09.07.18

Alli Carter

Completed as a first timer in 2018

4.9

Hilly for a Norfolk lass!

The Gauntlet at Hever Castle

A fantastic, challenging race in beautiful surroundings with excellent organisation, friendly marshals, well stocked feed stations and value for money extras!!  Awesome showers and loos for campers. Highly recommended for anyone wanting a challenge! 

Posted on 09.07.18

Sherrio Mcw

Completed as a first timer in 2018

4.5

Stunning Race!

I really enjoyed this event! The course was stunning and tough at the same time, and the race day went very smoothly. However, I found that the communication wasn't always very clear, receiving at times conflicting information (particularly about wave times) and only found it was a non-wetsuit swim and a delayed start in transition from other participants (as I had registered the day before). However, that aside the enthusiasm and helpfulness of volunteers and staff was exceptional, I loved the course and the festival atmosphere made it a wonderful day! Also the camping was a really helpful option to have. Thank you!

Posted on 09.07.18

John Pingree

Completed as a first timer in 2018

4.5

First Triathlon Complete. Very good course.

Sunday 8th July 2018

1.9km Swim, 90km Bike, 21km Run - Hever Gauntlet

Conditions: Hot & Dry (a bit wetter in the lake). Some reports said 32 degrees celsius

 

Pre-reg

Changed date from September to July with no issues, had to call back about my camping which wasn't moved.

Some more details about the camping location and where it was in relation to the event would have helped.

Regular updates on the water temperature beforehand.

Camping

Camped overnight. Basic faciities with a large portakabin with urinals and two toilets for gents and probably similar for women, 2 showers in a mobile cubicle. First night the water supply to the main toilet stopped and caused some issues. Cooking stoves are fine. Aircraft from Gatwick were still taking off around midnight. Take earplugs. I did but still didn't sleep - probably nerves.

Registration

Generally good, although there were a few items given to us which weren't explained in the handout (green sticker - which was for helmet). Still not sure what the grey wrist band was for but I wore it anyway. Nice freebies, although I don't think I'll be using the 'Cycle Insurance' mudguard - nice idea but it should have at least had a reference to the event on it.

The transition became a split transition so we were given two carrier bags - blue for bike, red for run (liked that nice and simple!). All bike kit went into the blue bag and placed with the bike. A separate tent housed the T2 bike to run kit with benches and a partition wall in the middle. Areas labelled for bags. There was a separate bag drop area in T1 for all the transition bags which weren't used. 

Race Briefing

There was a half hour delay to the race briefing and race start as there were huge queues to get into T1 for bike racking. I just hope there were plenty of crew members informing those in the queue that this wasn't going to be a problem for them. 

Given by the race director, who was excellent. Great brief, good job.

Swim

Most participants very surprised that this was a non-wetsuit event. The water temperature updates were solid at 19-20 degrees running upto the event but it seemingly jumped up overnight to 25. Race director did absolutely the right in prohibiting wetsuits as per the rules and nobody can argue against that but it was surprising to the competitiors as reports suggested it would be a westuit optional swim.

Amazing swim, despite no wetsuit. It felt absolutely exhilarating in the water. Great course and brilliant use of the river to add some interest and diversity. Nice to see some spectators on the bridges. 

Two marshalls helping swimmers out of the water and a run on matting intially. About a 400m run to T1.

T1

Finding my bike was easy as there was chance to rehearse the route into T1 beforehand but mainly because my bike was pretty much the only one left! Good marshalling out of T1 and onto the bike course.

Bike Course

This is a very hilly course with a couple of 'red flag' (dangerous) areas which are well marshalled. No surprises as the event description on the website was accurate and in particular the race briefing was excellent. The feeding stations were well stocked and manned by excellent marshalls. Roving motorbike marshalls to check on rule observation and mechanical issues. Despite the race briefing, I was still surprised to see so much litter and water bottles discarded on the course. Shame on those participants, you'll only spoil it for yourselves, not much more can be done unless civil fines and DQ are threatened by anyone caught. Aside from that, the course itself is awesome, lots of long smooth descents and deliciously hard climbs, set myself a new top speed record on a downhill section. A few potholes but the quality of the roads was surprisingly good. A well thought out bike route.

Top tip for marshalls:

Start waving in your arms in the direction of the turn well in advance so the participants can start to signal early. We are sharing the road with other vehicles and when we signal late, (or not at all in some cases as we were upon the marshalls before getting direction) it frustrates them and they then take unecessary risks overtaking.

T2

Well marshalled to the dismount area, red flag marshall making sure you dismounted by the correct point. Followed the course through cheering spectators to the T2 tent. Someone took my bike off me which was great and placed it back in T1. I was disappointed here as none of the other 5 or 6 marshalls told me where to go, they were stood round chatting and I had no one to follow so I had to ask. This really annoyed me as the least they could have done whilst chatting is wave their arms in the general direction of where I needed to go.

Inside the tent was awful, lots of bags everywhere, my bag wasn't where I left it but in another age group location. T2 organistaion and poor marshalling really put a downer on the event for me.

Run

Great 2 lap trail half marathon taking in some lovely scenery and leg sapping climbs. Marshalls were excellent. Race director was also involved in marshalling which was great to see. Lots of cheering and encouragement and well stocked food and water stations. I suffered with gastro cramping and felt like I was running from toilet to toilet - would have been less painful for me if there were one or two or toilets at more regular intervals as it was agonising at points, but I suppose the race organisers can't really cater for individual digestive tracts...

Lots of support going through the home straight to either finish or go into lap 2.

Finish

Lots of fresh fruit, drinks and snacks at the finish area. Medal was a bit disappointing but made up for by the event t-shirt. A lot of event t-shirts you wouldn't clean your bike with as they are either poor quality, lame or full of cycle insurance adverts but this is my new favourite running t-shirt. Opportunities for photos at the end.

Entertainment Area

There was lots to do for the kids and my two had a great time on the inflatables and in the water splash garden. There was live music and the singer was fantastic. She deserved a bigger stage with a more open area as most of the time she wasn't singing to many people. Maybe the music tent could be combined with the finish somehow to make sure she has an audience but also encourage people to clap in the finishers and make it a more supportive event (not that it wasn't, this would just be an addition). The music tent was surrounded on 3 sides by food and merchandise vendors with some seats in the middle. I really fancied a hog roast but the owners were really taking the p$£% with £7.50 for a sandwich. I wasn't going to pay that even though I was really hungry.

Summary

All in all a fantastic event, very inclusive, well organised and I would do it again in a heartbeat. Disappointed with the marshalls at T2 and the carnage in the T2 tent.

Posted on 09.07.18

Alex Hornett

Completed in 2018

1.3

Mixed feelings....

I made a decision to DNS this race for a couple of reasons. While I have no doubt this is a good race in a really nice setting if everything goes OK for you, I was left the day before feeling that there was a lot of complacency with respect to security and safety, and given the weather conditions and an impending A race, it just wasn't worth the risks.

Arrival
Arriving on the Saturday before, entry to the campsite was largely uncontrolled at the point we entered.

Entry to the site was well marked, but once there a complete free-for-all.

Only a single shower unit and toilet block for anyone using the car park.

No segregation between camping and parking - any member of the public can park and have unlimited access to the campsite area.

Similarly there was no access control from the Hever Castle site. You had to pass through a tent to get in/out, but it was unmanned so was clearly only ever there as a place to take payment on the day.

Marshalls not really visible in the camping area, and once found seemed to have no knowledge of race organisation. I was told I'd need to go to registration for that.

Registration
Registration was smooth and straight forward, using an SMS as ID is a good idea.

Having the instructions split across the outside of the envelope and on a note inside the pack was a little confusing.

There were some complaints about the size of the mandatory coloured strip to be put on helmets, used to differentiate Bastion/Gauntlet competitors, covering ventilation holes. On the surface, you probably think "stop whining", but in 32C heat? Maybe he's got a bit of a point - in any case it was largely laughed off as "serious racer being over-serious".

We'd also been told in the Wave SMS that registration & racking was strictly between 11 and 2, which influenced all our arrival planning. There were still people arriving and registering right up to gate closure.

Briefing
Briefing was not great, and didn't inspire confidence that this race would be safe given the hot conditions & nature of the race.

Open roads with minimal controlled junctions.

Removal of water stations due to lack of use in previous years.

Briefing provided conflicting information on wave start times that had been given out incorrectly by SMS. This was later corrected.

The race organisers hadn't a clear idea of what you were to do with your transition bags, where to leave them etc.Then making ad-hoc decisions without being really clear.

Conflicting info on what nutrition was available at the feed stations.
When the race director states "once you're out there, you're on your own", given all the above, it doesn't give you confidence.

We were also advised that the run is largely trail/cross country. That's not clear from the race guide, and does influence your trainer choice (I certainly wouldn't have taken just lightweight road trainers had I known).

Racking & Transition
Initial racking was fine, if a bit confusing with the split transitions. That wasn't very clear in the race guide. You might have struggled had you not made it to the briefing and done the full tour.

There was no security on the T2 tent at all and the area around it was open to the general public.

Security and entry to T1 was minimal (one marshall working, 4 marshalls chatting). Putting in a waist height fence doesn't make transition secure....

In addition, because of the confusion of where to leave T1 bags from the briefing, I had placed my bag inside the tent to keep my kit in the shade. On returning to remove my bike having decided to not race, I found my bag had been removed from the tent, to next to my bike. No attempt was made to contact me to tell me this had been done. Finding your stuff moved, on race morning, is not going to be a pleasant experience!

In summary - I wouldn't say "do not do this race". I would simply say, go in with your eyes open, be prepared for just about anything, and don't expect Ironman levels of organisation. Sorry folks, you've got a lovely race here, but you've got to take the organisation, safety and security more seriously than was evident this weekend.

Posted on 09.07.18

Jim Gould

Completed as a first timer in 2018

4.5

Gauntlet in the Sun

Brilliant event. Very well organised and a beautiful  location. The swim was amazing lake and river. 

Posted on 09.07.18

Zoe Hawkins

Completed as a first timer in 2018

4.8

Hard but fab!

I had previously done the Aquathon at the Castle Tri series and felt inspired to take on the Gaunlet this year, as it was such a pretty course and appeared really well organised. It didn't disappoint! Extremely well organised, lots of marshals and feed stops and well navigated / signed routes took the stress out of the bike and run. Genuine hats off to the number / quality of the feed stops, particularly on the run, it was needed in the heatwave! Great atmosphere and the venders were giving out free food to Gaunlet & Bastion finishers, win win! Definitely recommend, but you have to like the hills / pain cave as these come as standard with this race! 

Posted on 09.07.18

David March

Completed as a first timer in 2018

4.8

Spectacular course, I'll definitely be back.

As soon as the day kicks off at race briefing amongst the Stone columns of the Italian "Loggia" you know you're in for something special. Overlooking the lake, the sun sparkles on the waters which makes sighting fairly easy for the first part of the swim, just swim directly into the sun. Most triathlons have a fairly standard out and back, or lap of a lake swim, The Gauntlet however, takes you out onto the lake and then down a river, under bridges and round corners. Best swim ever. (And July '18 saw water temps of 26 degrees!)

The Bike, I'm not big into cycling and my worst nightmare of a course would be the type decribed as "fast & flat." For me, that just means grinding it out for 3 hours or so. The Gauntlet's bike course is anything but flat. There's barely a moment that isn't up or down. There's some very fast downhill sections, but the climbs are never ridiculously challenging. The country roads are nice to ride on, not a lot of traffic about, and Ashdown Forest is lovely.

The Run: 99% off road and hilly. 2 laps of a lovely course that dips in and out of wooded areas around the lake, and back through the grounds of Hever Castle. Make no mistake, this is a tough Half Marathon course on its own.

Marshalls were everywhere and full of smiling faces & encouragement, plenty of feed stations, plenty of water, great organisation all round.

The only sticking point was a delayed start due to competitors not being checked in quickly enough through registration and racking. However, I appreciate that's difficult to manage when 300 people turn up at the same time.

 

Overall, an awesome experience for my first middle distance triathlon, I loved every minute of it and would definitely race it again.

Posted on 09.07.18

Tim Lucas

Completed in 2018

2.6

Badly organized event

I have raced this race three times now and the last was as part of a relay team.

 It seemed that the race was trying to put on to many events in one go with the marshals and officials poorly briefed on what was actually happening and when. Basically poor communication between the events team.

 The cycle transition was a complete mess, people leaving transition having to run through scores of people walking down the path from the castle with no marshals moving people out the way.

Poorly surfaced routes to and from transition ruined several peoples races. Based on the price of an entry you would expect a better transitions. Other events would have poor surfaces fully matted.

 On the bright side it is a great location and a great course however after racing the inaugural race several years ago I would of thought the basic problems would have been resolved.

The overall view of everyone I spoke to was Castle Tri are trying to do to much to soon and should focus more on making the core events better. 

Untill I hear better reviews it is unlikly I would return to this event.

Regards,

Tim

 

Posted on 09.07.18

Ben Marshall

Completed in 2018

4.1

Not sure why this is marketed as family friendly

I loved this course and had a great time but I entered as it was marketed as family friendly. I had been excited about entering an event with my fiance but was extremely dissapointed to find out we would not be allowed to race together. 

This was then made worse by a general attitude amongst many of the cyclists (including a number who were distinctly average cyclists) who i heard swearing at vollunteers at the feed station. 

 

If this is an intense race it should be marketed as such. I went in with expectations that this was more about having fun (and indeed from the vollunteers and during the run this was the sense I got) but the race techs and some of the competitors did not seem to get this.

 

It compares favourably with an Ironman for a race and I would definitely come back to compete, but I wouldnt come back for a fun day out.

Posted on 09.07.18

Ian Stevens

Completed as a first timer in 2018

3.4

Send down incorrect route for 8km

The Gauntlet at Hever Castle

Your single race Marshall sent myself and 3 other riders down an incorrect route into the middle of town centre.

He was located at the intersection A261 and B2110. He was sitting in his chair 20 meters before the corner and as a result of not sitting on the corner had his back to all athletes as they passed him on approach to corner. As a result there was no telling if we were on right track and cycled 8km off course. This ruined all my times and training for event which subsequently led to me pulling out. 

All costs and efforts considered, i would like the race organisers to contact me ASAP as this is unacceptable. 

Posted on 09.07.18