Hever Gauntlet Half Ironman Race Report – 27 September 2015 by Katherine

12027548_10156068420200471_8901968986724366868_nYou know how old injuries have a habit of recurring at the worst time…..

So…training had gone well, I’d done all the long rides and runs, lots of brick sessions and felt I was as prepared as I could be. I’d seen the physio regularly who had sorted out my dodgy leg – basically something irritating a nerve which makes my foot go numb on the bike and just makes my leg really weak and tight. Anyway, it’d been fine all through training so I was a bit worried on the Friday/Saturday before the race when my hip started feeling tight and I was getting a tingly foot.

Moving on – we made our way down to Hever Castle on the Saturday, drove round the bike route which for some reason didn’t look ‘all’ that bad and then met up with Guy to register. Only slightly concerned that we wouldn’t be able to get out the very muddy field again. We had a look at the lake – and were very impressed at all the children (as young as 8) getting on with their swims!

So race day was obviously an early start – instant porridge is never going to be good and definitely not at 5am. Amazingly we managed to be up and out on time which was a good thing as we then joined the long queue into the muddy Castle car park. So having had lots of time to spare, it all ended up being a bit of a rush to get sorted in transition (which is huge), wet suit on and ready to start.

The race brief was clear and kind of cleared up the confusion about how we were meant to swim through 2 gates! And then we were off……..and it was cold. And got colder…..and colder. I couldn’t feel my feet and just wanted to get out! And thankfully this year I didn’t have any trouble finding the exit! The muddy uphill run to transition wasn’t particularly fun and then the fun started trying to get my wetsuit off – I was so cold and shaking so much a fellow (relay) competitor who had done his bit offered to help pull it off. It still took us a while!

And on to the bike – still shivering. It seriously took nearly the whole of the first (45k) lap to warm up. And as soon as I got to the first hill – all of about 1km in I knew my dodgy leg was back and I had no power in one leg. Ah well….thought it might settle down but no…..and rode most of it with a completely numb foot. And hill after hill after hill – relentless. And what downhills there were, were technical so not much opportunity to get up much speed. I saw Rhyan and the kids at the half way mark – unfortunately didn’t get the chance to tell them that I couldn’t do another lap – so found myself heading up that first hill again! There was quite a lot of traffic on the roads and a few times did get held up, but there were some very encouraging marshall/young locals who were clearly enjoying cheering everyone on.

And finally the end of the ride came and I tried to run. Ah, my left calf didn’t think that was such a good idea and I hobbled-stopped-stretched-repeat my way out of transition. Wondered whether I should even start the run but being that so many people had donated to the Alzheimer’s society assuming I’d do this I figured I’d get round somehow. It was a lovely route – for maybe an afternoon stroll – all off road and of course plenty of hills, mud and more hills. A visit to another castle too. At least I wasn’t the only one who had to walk – there were lots of others and had some nice chats with people! And then after far too long of walking, running, limping, wobbling my way round the end was in sight and I ran down the last bit of the finishing straight with my 2 best small supporters (they’d seen all the goodies on offer when you finished!).

The medal wasn’t very impressive but it was nice to get a rucksack (though they did make us walk up to another tent to get it) and t-shirt and a free cup of tea. Apparently could have had a free meal and a massage too.

Would I do it again? I think so (would like to see how I could do without the dodgy leg!) – though maybe not next year. Not sure if we were lucky last year or unlucky this year but the lake was warmer last year and there weren’t the issues with the car parking and queues to get in. It is a great venue to take the family though – lots for them to do (after all, if I’d been much faster they wouldn’t have had time to have bacon sandwiches, hot chocolate, go to the fair, the adventure playground, maze, have sausages and chips, buy sweets…catch up with some other friends) and they loved seeing all the children doing their races – maybe their turn in a few years!

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