Hever Castle provided the stunning backdrop to the 7th annual Hever Castle Triathlon at the weekend. Thousands competed in a variety of different swim, bike, run distances – all captured by the cameras from Channel 4, Sky Sports and ITV Meridian.
Distances ranged from the new starter-sprint triathlon aimed at beginners, (200m swim, 10km bike and 2km run) up to the challenging Gauntlet half iron triathlon (1.9 kilometre swim, 90 kilometre bike and 21 kilometre run). Over a quarter of the field were first timers, a third took part last year, 800 camped next to the Castle and thousands of spectators lined the course enjoying the festival like atmosphere in the event village – which included a live music stage, fun fair, balloon rides, archery and shopping village.
All the races began with a stunning swim in the spectacular 38 acre Loggia with the Olympic and Gauntlet competitors taking on a further loop around River Eden.
The undulating cycle took athletes on a circuit through the High Weald of Kent, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, with one lap for the Sprint and two laps for the Olympic-distance racers. Those on The Gauntlet took on a specially designed two lap course. The largely off-road run circumnavigated the estate and award-winning castle grounds before making the dash to the tree-lined finishing chute beside the lake.
The triathlon attracted elite athletes, including Commonwealth Games participant Liam Lloyd, international champion Catherine Jameson and World Aquathlon Champion Hannah Kitchen.
The first title winners were crowned in the Olympic distance race, which consists of a 1500 metre swim, 40 kilometre bike and 10 kilometre run.
Calum Johnson took the title, crossing the line in 2:02:30, ahead of Sam Wade who completed in 2:03:15. Liam Lloyd completed the podium with a time of 2:07:19.
Calum Johnson said:
“I really enjoyed it, it is an incredible race venue and great fun. I did go through a bad patch but pushed through for the win. I’ll definitely be back next year”
In the women’s race it was the class act in the field who took the title true to predictions. Catherine Jameson had a huge lead after the bike and rounded off the race in first and a time of 2:18:31. Following her over the line was Sarah Lewis in 2:21:38 whilst Hannah Kitchen finished third in 2:25:25.
The Gauntlet race proved very popular this year with over 800 entrants. Relatively unknown Ashley Hurdman was on top of the pile with a time of 4:47:14. In second was pro biker turned triathlete and another debutante, Brennan Townshend in 4:48:04. Third was Pete Dyson in 4:51:28.
Ashley Hurdman said:
“It was a great race. I found myself in the lead and I just hung on. I’ve been taking triathlon a bit more seriously this year and I want to dedicate this win to my coach. The support and atmosphere is amazing”.
Kim Morrison, the European Age Group champion, who was making her elite debut, led from the start and finished with a huge gap in 5:22:36. Second place Ruth Purbrook crossed in 5:41:26 with Kate Mactear third in 5:52:21.
Champion Kim Morrison said:
“I’m thrilled! It felt good all day and the course is just fantastic as is the atmosphere. This is a top event and I’m so pleased to get my first pro win”.
A huge amount was raised for the Castle Triathlon Series official charity partner, the NSPCC. The event was rounded off by the world’s biggest children’s triathlon, with 1,600 children aged 7 – 15 taking part – many for the first time, in the Castle’s supportive surroundings.
In just seven years the Hever Castle Triathlon has swiftly established itself as an essential destination for British and international triathletes, garnering plaudits and mainstream media attention for its picture postcard venue, elite action, age-group choice and festival atmosphere.