A medium sized triathlon set in the stunning surrounds of north Yorkshire’s Castle Howard. 1200 triathletes tackle the picturesque course with a tough little off-road run that ends at the castle gates.
Where: North Yorkshire
When: July (since 2010)
Distances: Olympic – 1500m/46km/10km | Mid-Distance – 800m/46km/8km | Sprint – 400m/23km/4km plus Juniors
Size: 1200 triathletes
Official race website here.
- Practise the transition from swim to run with a bit of distance to the transition zone
- Make sure you know how many laps you need to do for your particular distance
- Make sure you know where you racked your bike as it’s a big transition area
- Save some energy at the end of the swim for the big climb up to the transition
- If you live in a flat area, try and train on some hills and get advice from someone who knows about how to tackle them, particularly on the bike
- Take some cash with you on the day as there are loads of stalls to explore at the race site, and spectators were required to pay £5 to get in
- Camp the night before, there’s a great atmosphere, lovely site, and an excuse to get the barbeque going!
What’s the organisation and set up like?
Castle Howard is part of the established and growing Castle Triathlon series and is a well organised event in another pretty stunning setting (Hever Castle Tri and Cholmondeley Tri also in the series). Before the race, there’s plenty of contact from organisers over email so most racers can feel well prepared and even learn a little of the history of the castle!
On the day the adult races are split into waves setting off at 10 minute intervals. Registration opens at 7am and the first adult wave starts at 8am. You’re given your wave time in your race pack through the post. You’re advised to get there at least an hour before your start time and despite big queues at registration it only takes around 15 minutes to get your timing chip and check in.
The transition area is big but quite strict. You’ll need to rack your bike in your allocated area or you may get in trouble with the stewards.
Out on the course the roads aren’t closed but there are lots of stewards stopping traffic when needed and keeping cyclists safe. It can be quite annoying for racers though who get stuck behind slow cars in the villages but the earlier wave starts mean it’s luckily fairly quiet on the roads.
What’s the course like?
The course takes place in Castle Howard’s 10,000 acres including a lake swim and road race around the grounds and through local villages.
The race starts with a swim in Castle Howard Great Lake which is a little smelly and muddy but clean enough.
Then there’s a bit of a monster climb up a bank to get to transition so it’s worth saving some energy for that bit.
The cycle route consists of one lap for the Sprint and two laps for both the Mid and Olympic distance through the undulating countryside surrounding the estate. The entire course is beautiful and you hardly feel the pain with such nice scenery to look at!
Then it’s the run which snakes through the estate, taking in the historic monuments along the way. It stays close to the castle and runs around the estate, up to the “Temple of the Four Winds” before heading back into the formal gardens and making its way up three levels of lakes. Again it’s one lap for the Sprint and two laps for the Mid-Distance and Olympic races. The race ends with triathletes literally running into the front entrance of this Castle which is pretty spectacular.
How’s the atmosphere?
With more than a thousand triathletes and lots of junior races taking place the atmosphere at the castle is brilliant. The organisers put on a great show with lots of things to keep kids entertained like archery.
The runners are a mixture of elite athletes, weekend tri-hards and beginners and everyone’s up for it but not overly excited or chatty that this reviewer found.
How difficult is Castle Howard Triathlon?
The course is hardly ever flat and consists of persistent undulations. It’s been described as ‘A Brute’. There aren’t any major hills to note but it’s just a constant up and down which makes for a challenging ride.
The off-road run is quite hilly and could catch triathletes out if they haven’t trained on grass or dirt tracks because it saps the energy a lot more than road-running. It’s also deceptive in places with a few parts that make you think you’re at the finish when you’ve still got a hill or 2 to do.
Overall though this tri is a great place to try for a PB. Unless you’re unlucky enough to get stuck behind a car on the bike leg!
What is there to do after the race?
At the finish there’s an impressive (and welcome!) spread of food and other drinks including alcohol-free beer! There’s also lots of fun family things to do like Archery and wall climbing all put on for the weekend.
The surrounding villages don’t have a lot to offer in terms of things to do but York is only 15 miles away so could be worth a visit if you have a car.
The best thing to do after the race is take a stroll around the castle grounds and get access to the castle itself for half price entry.
My Race Diary
By David Lowes
Triathlon No. 2
Position: About 150/300
I had a great time at Castle Howard and am already signed up to the Hever race as part of the series.
I found the swim pretty hard with lots of elbow bashing in the water but I got really into the bike leg and managed to complete the 23km in just under an hour despite getting stuck behind a nervous driver in a Kia Picanto.
The run started well with a lovely decline down the hill I had dragged myself up after the swim. The heat was building by this time and so I took it steady and again the scenery was second to none.
I romped home in one hour 36 minutes, which may not sound that impressive to some readers but was a good time for me!
After a gloriously sweaty finish came for me the highlight of the day, a race attendant with a tray staked full of cold beer.
After cooling off and cheering home a few other racers I headed back to the campsite – which I would recommend! Bring on Hever Middle Distance.
- Thousands look to go distance this weekend in Pittsburgh Triathlon (triblive.com)
- Hever Castle Triathlon (trireview.co.uk)
- Cholmondeley Castle Triathlon (trireview.co.uk)
- My first blog & a DNF (kevinwats.wordpress.com)