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Arundel Castle Triathlon 2016
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Arundel Castle Triathlon 2016

Arundel Castle Triathlon 2016 was my first triathlon of the year. I absolutely love triathlon. Which is weird because I’m not a massive fan of swimming or cycling. If I can avoid a swim or bike session I will!! But put swim, bike and run together and it’s the most amazing event.

Death by Truck

A couple of things have made swimming and cycling a lot more palatable in the past couple of years. Discovering Zwift has been fantastic. I am not a fan of cycling outdoors on the roads for fear of death by truck. So being able to ride indoors using Zwift has been superb. I love it. If you know nothing about Zwift or smart trainers then I encourage you to Google both Zwift and Kickr to find out more. Joining the Fit4 membership scheme at Worthing leisure centres has been great too. I can go swimming whenever I want and I can psyche myself up for it by relaxing in the sauna beforehand. Believe me, telling myself I’m going for a sauna is much more likely to get me out of the house than telling myself I’ve got to go and swim 160 lengths of the pool!

Last year the Arundel Castle Triathlon was my first Olympic distance tri and I thoroughly enjoyed it. You can see the film I made of that race here.

This year’s event had been moved to earlier in the year and made for a great training race in preparation for my main triathlon event of the year, a full iron distance race called the Bastion to be held at Hever Castle. Unfortunately my triathlon specific training has not been quite as good as I’d hoped. I think running Transvulcania and the South Downs Way 100 has taken its toll and I’ve not felt able to put in the miles on the bike or in the pool that I should. I’ve just been too fatigued.

Course Change

The Arundel Castle Triathlon starts with a 1500 metre Swim in the Arun River. In 2015 we swam upstream for 200m and then with the current for the remaining 1300m. This made for a fast Swim time which would not be repeated in 2016. This year the course was changed to 750m upstream before the turn and 750m back. The run portion had also changed. Last year it was somewhat short at only 8.5km. This year it was rerouted to be much nearer the full Olympic 10k.

In addition to feeling generally fatigued from the number of running races I’ve participated in this year, I would also start the Arundel Castle Triathlon having had less that 3 hours sleep. I was wearing my wedding photographers hat the day before, shooting a wedding on Merseyside. I had to drive back to the South Coast and didn’t get home until about 1:00am. I went straight to bed and the alarm sounded at 3:30am!

Arundel Castle Triathlon 2016

I leapt out of bed feeling surprisingly sprightly and made my way to the beautiful town of Arundel with its magnificent castle and cathedral both high on the hill overlooking the town. A 5:15am start is pretty early by anyone’s standards but it did mean we got to ride the bike course free from traffic. I am a slow swimmer and as such I was in the second wave of competitors. The first wave wore white swim caps. Those in my wave had to don bright pink swim caps.

I set off at the sound of the hooter and immediately felt that tightness and shortness of breath which seems to occur at the beginning of a swim wearing a wetsuit. It takes a few minutes or a couple of hundred metres for this to settle and for me to feel relaxed enough to swim. However my sighting is still terrible in the open water and was compounded this time by a river dense with seaweed.

Crashing in to a boat

No sooner had I settled in to my stroke than I crashed in to the hull of a small boat moored on the river bank. I couldn’t find a way to adequately swim and continually sight ahead and ended up swimming breaststroke for a few feet every so often in order to reposition myself. I wasn’t passed by many others but I didn’t catch many either and I got out of the water in 88th position having completed the 1500 metres in a little over 33 minutes.

Last year my feet got very cold on the bike so I decided to put socks on in transition this time. I had nothing else to worry about though and I grabbed my bike and made it out of transition in under 2 minutes. I am a big fan of milk so I had milk in my bottle for the 40km journey which heads along the A27, over the A280 at Long Furlong, up the A24 and through Amberley and Houghton on the A283, before a final climb and then descent back in to Arundel on the A284. It’s beautiful, undulating route. It actually felt less hilly than last year. I was dreading the big climb out of Houghton, but when it came I thought it wasn’t really too bad at all. That’s what running 10 miles uphill at Transvulcania does for your perception of what constitutes a big hill!!

Swim, Bike, Run

I had been passed at the beginning of the ride by a few speedy guys, but once I got into it I started to pass a few riders myself. I sped down the final hill as fast as I dared but clocked in to transition 4 minutes slower than in 2015. However, I had managed to bump myself up a few places to 84th male. Last year I had special laces on my running shoes which meant I didn’t need to tie them. I hadn’t transferred them to my new road shoes so I wasted a bit of time faffing with laces. But I still got out of T2 in 1 minute 24 seconds.

The run is usually my strong point, as you might imagine. But the lack of sleep started to catch up with me on the run and it was getting warm. I felt very tired and wasn’t able to put an awful lot of effort in to climbing the hill which we had to do twice on the looped course. The route was primarily the same as last year, save for a slight change at the beginning and the end. It’s part road, part trail. You run along the road at the side of the castle before turning off to run past Swanbourne Lake, through Arundel Park, up a sapping incline, past Hiorne Tower and then back on to the road. You run past the cathedral with the castle on the left and then down the steep main high street of Arundel…..and then you do it all again!

Slower than Last Year

Last year the finish line was at the bottom of the High Street. This year we ran round the corner an extra 700m or so back to the transition area to the new finish line. By the time I got to the top of the climb the second time round, I was starting to feel like a runner and put in a decent pace to the finish. I managed to pass 23 people on the run and finished the Arundel Castle Triathlon 2016 as 60th male and in 66th place overall. My time was 2 hours 39 minutes. Slower than last year by 13 minutes but there are lots of reasons for that. Interestingly though, there were more competitors last year when I came 44th. I was definitely slower all round this year regardless of the different swim and run routes

Having said that, once again I really enjoyed my second Arundel Castle Triathlon and I would certainly like to do it again next year. Onwards and upwards now to the Bastion full distance. If you have enjoyed reading this Arundel Castle Triathlon 2016 race report please share it with friends and give it a ‘like’. Thanks for reading!

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