Over 1,700 triathletes of all abilities are looking forward to a weekend of multi-sport action on Saturday 26th and Sunday 27th July, as for the 5th time the largest annual triathlon event in North-East England returns to Castle Howard in York.
This is the first time the race has grown from a one-day event to a full weekend of action, reflecting the huge demand for triathlon in the area.
Up for grabs are not only the prestigious Castle Howard Triathlon titles, part of the Castle Triathlon Series, but also a prize fund of £2,000 for the Olympic distance race and £2,550 for The Gauntlet Half-Iron distance triathlon. There also exists the opportunity to impress in front of a national audience, with the TV cameras and two helicopters set to capture all the action ahead of a 30-minute highlights programme which will be screened on Channel 4, Sky Sports and Eurosport.
Looking ahead to the Olympic distance race, the chief threat is likely to come from Australia in the form of Australian national champion and XTERRA specialist Ben Allen. Ben said:
“I can’t wait to come and race the Castle Howard Triathlon. We’ve come to race this series before and they are so well organised.
His main opposition is likely to be fellow pro triathlete Doug Hall, with the pair knowing each other well from the XTERRA circuit. Also a big favourite for the title is pro Mark Threlfall – a regular podium finisher at races across the European professional circuit and a recent winner at the Cholmondeley Castle Triathlon.
The women’s title could also go back to Australia, but it would be a Staffordshire girl taking it home. Jacqui Slack, who is Ben Allen’s partner, will also be in action and the former winner of the London Triathlon and British Super Series champion is in fine form having won several races in Asia already this year. Jacqui will have very tough opposition from some long-course specialists in the form of Alice Hector, Ali Rowatt and Nicole Walters.
For the first time ever, the Castle Howard Triathlon will showcase the tough Gauntlet Half-iron race. Over 150 athletes will take on the testing 1.9km swim, 90km bike and 21km run distance at the Castle Howard venue including some very talented athletes.
The men’s title is likely to be settled between professionals Fraser Cartmell and Paul Hawkins. Fraser is fresh from adding another victory on his glittering CV at The Bastion iron-distance triathlon at Hever Castle on the 13th July and will want to continue that fine form. Paul Hawkins meanwhile is ready to roll after an injury disrupted 2013 and is looking to get back to winning ways.
The women’s Gauntlet Half-iron title will likely go to one of Eleanor Haresign, Jessica Parry-Williams or Nikki Bartlett. These three women are amongst the top up-and-coming long course talent in the country and whoever emerges victorious here will have made a statement as to what the future holds for them.
The race isn’t just about the elites though, with the Castle Triathlon Series once again welcoming hundreds of school children to the sport with their Tri Knights series – part of the largest children’s triathlon series in the UK.
The Castle Howard Triathlon is the fourth weekend event of the 2014 Castle Triathlon Series and will once again feature a picture postcard backdrop and a course with something for every level of triathlete. Indeed, the 13,000 acre grounds of Castle Howard form arguably the most physically demanding triathlon course of the Castle Tri Series.
Race entrants will start the race by swimming through Castle Howard’s Great Lake before transitioning into the technical bike route through the glorious rural idyll of Yorkshire. The run is set in the stunning estate grounds and is one of the hardest triathlon runs in the UK.