For the ninth year in a row, the Hever Castle Triathlon brought the Castle Triathlon Series season to a finish, with competitors descending on the iconic Kent castle in South East England on the weekend of 23-24 September. Billed as the third largest triathlon festival in the UK, and ‘the largest children’s triathlon in the world’, the event saw a strong elite field, junior triathletes including Bailey Matthews, and hundreds of Macmillan Cancer Support fundraisers who helped push the series fundraising total to nearly £100,000.
The Hever Castle event had an above UK average of female athletes participating, with over 37% of the field being female, including 15 women who were taking part in the triathlon as part of their recovery from breast cancer. This year the event also opened up the swim course for more people, with its first swim only events in association with Outdoor Swimmer.
In Castle Triathlon Series fashion, a reported 20,000 spectators enjoyed the sunshine, music from local bands, a variety of retail and food stalls and, ‘the electric finish line… creating a true celebration of triathlon, bringing the 2017 season to a close’. TV cameras lapped up the action with a bespoke TV programme being broadcast on mainstream UK broadcaster Channel 4 next month.
Across the weekend, 1500 junior athletes gave it a ‘tri’, with many either returning for another year of swim, bike and run or taking part in their first ever triathlon. Joining Race Director Brian Adcock at the race briefing were two Olympians, Will Clarke and Liam Tancock, who were on hand to inspire the children, providing top tips for the race and aiming to calm any last minute nerves.
Commenting on the junior races, Will Clarke said, “It was great to be at the event on Saturday and see so many people of all abilities and ages getting involved in triathlon. I was buzzing after my first event when I was 12 years old and just wanted more, but these kids have so many more events available to them now; and Castle Series Triathlon are doing a brilliant job at providing beautiful, safe and fun settings for them to try to the sport for the first time.”
It was also a special weekend for BBC Sports Personality of the Year Winner Bailey Matthews who took part in his tenth race with Castle Triathlon Series, meaning that he is now a Castle Triathlon Loyalty club member, following on from is inspirational first race at Castle Howard Triathlon in 2015. On the finish line Matthews thanked the supportive crowd of fans who have followed his journey, saying “This crowd have been insane, it’s a fantastic atmosphere, thank you so much.”
Hever Castle Triathlon welcomed athletes of all ages and abilities, and this year was no exception, with several paratriathletes, including hearing-impaired athletes, experiencing the accessible courses at Hever. Stephan and Chloe Couture joined other Super Sprint triathletes on the course, with father Stephan assisting Chloe, who uses a unique and specially designed racing chair to experience the thrill of triathlon. Chloe, who doesn’t let her cerebral palsy stop her from enjoying all three triathlon disciplines, will also aim to take part in all Castle Triathlon Series events next year.
Tri’ for Good
2017 has been a record-breaking year for fundraising by Castle Triathlon Series triathletes, with over £100,000 raised for Macmillan Cancer Support and tens of thousands more for local charities. In the Women’s Only wave of the Super Sprint on Saturday, Zara Bailey took part to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Support in memory of her uncle.
Despite being diagnosed with Addison’s Disease in 2015, Zara Bailey has completed the entire Castle Triathlon Series this year to fundraise for Macmillan. Joining Zara in the wave were 15 inspirational women from Team Phoenix, a triathlon team put together for women with breast cancer to help them on their journey to recovery.
The tenth anniversary of the Hever Castle Triathlon will be hosted on 22-24 September 2018. An early bird 30% discount is currently available (valid until midnight GMT on 29 September 2017).
The Hever Castle Triathlon 2017 will be broadcast in a bespoke programme on Channel 4 on 21 October at 07:30.