Hever castle Gauntlet 2021

By Neil Dighton

It’s a week after my 1/2 marathon PB and I’m racing again, wasn’t sure how this old body would hold up after that effort. So I went into it with the mindset to have a bit of fun and not go too hard before Virtual London Marathon next week end… yeah right whatever!


I got to the venue early and grabbed myself a perfect transition place next to bike and run exit, lots of covid friendly space too. Almost as soon as I was racked it was down to the swim start. An eerie mist was covering the lake but not enough to hinder sighting. There was a good lakeside briefing followed by a quick HooRah then off we went. I was probably about 7th to jump in no diving as it’s a very shallow lake! I quickly got into my rhythm and I eventually caught up with the lead group and managed to stick with them. The lake was a warm 17.5 but then you turned into a river section and the temp dropped by a couple of degrees which affected my transition as I couldn’t feel my toes.

By Neil Aged 44

Nice swim exit being cheered by the next competitors in the Olympic distance and all the supporters. 10 miles into the bike and a branch wrapped itself around my rear derailleur, I jumped off and freed it. As I continued I realise I only have two gears as the chain was stuck on small rear ring and the front mech all ok. My first thought was shit it’s Vichy all over again. I decided to continue but it soon became apparent that on this course that would be impossible. I stopped and unplugged the Di2 and plug it back again but still nothing. Then I remembered a conversation with Dan about rear derailleurs going into crash mode. So I jumped off again and reset it. Bingo I was back in action. Head down and go. Just over 5000ft of elevation and at one point downhill I hit 56.5 mph😳. This isn’t wise as most of the decent’s were quite technical. 

By Neil aged 44

Back into transition you go over some awful speed bumps and a very gravely section to the dismount line. I had a smooth transition with the feeling back in my toes and quickly out onto the run, which was a two lap course with all different types of terrain – woods, grass, gravel, tarmac, farmers fields, everything you can think of it was here. 1st lap went well then it all got a bit tough (or was I saving myself for next weekend Sean 😉).

By Neil aged 44

Anyway I got to the finish line and as soon as I crossed it the organisers pulled me over for an interview, my first thought was can I collapse first, how does Rebecca do this so composed. Afterwards I thought that was strange anyway I get my phone and it turns out that I have finished 3rd overall 😳 great event would definitely recommend.

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