A flat, fast and very French triathlon set in the stunning grounds of Chantilly Château and surrounding villages. Easy to travel to at just over 2 hours from Calais and even closer to Paris – well worth a bank holiday trip.
Where: Northern France
When: Late August (since 2010)
Distances: Sprint, relay, olympic, half iron (‘Gauntlet’)
Size: Around 1600 triathletes
Official race website here
- Be prepared for a dirty swim with poor visibility
- Take it easy on the steps up to transition
- Make sure you follow the transition rules like helmet wearing – the officials are very strict!
- Train for a fast and flat race- aero bars are a good idea
- Take your own nutrition – there is a feed station but at around 18km into the ride
- Be warned- the bike course is longer than standard (for Olympic) – around 44km
- Watch out for the short, cobbled stretch around 2/3rds through the bike
- Take some food and water on at the end of the bike as there is only one feed station on the run course
- Train for flat, off-road trial running
What’s the organisation and set up like?
Very good. You sign up to this race online and get regular email updates. The race is organised by the very experienced Castle Triathlon Series team who do a great job at offering Brits everything they could need on the other side of the channel. You can hire wetsuits and bikes at the race if you need to.
Registration is done the day before at the venue where you collect your timing chip, race numbers and swim cap. Bike racking is done on the day.
The pre-race briefing is done at the wave start in French and English. Race director Brian tells you everything you need to know about the race including how many laps you need to do etc.
There’s a great atmosphere around the entire castle with music blaring out (sometimes questionable covers but mostly good stuff!) and the finish line on the Sunday is electric.
Free food and drink is everywhere including an AMAZING buffet that is unbelievably good and free! You don’t ever get that in UK races and it’s a very nice touch.
Out on the course, there are loads of marshals helping keep riders on track. Most are French which isn’t a problem until the point where the Gauntlet triathletes peel off from the Olympic bike route and it is carnage.
What’s the course like?
Excellent. Chantilly chateaux and its grounds are gorgeous – like a mix between Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire and Clivedon House in Berkshire. The swim is really interesting as you go out of the main centre piece of the grounds and back along to get a great view of the château and crowds of spectators.
The bike course is a real treat. You go through around 5 French villages. The roads aren’t closed but traffic isn’t too bad. The scenery is gorgeous – especially if sunny – and it’s a flat route with barely any hills. There are 2 that could, be classed as challenging – both around 2/3rds in. The roads are smooth and fairly straight. There is a short, cobbled section which is horrible but you’re warned about it.
The run is equally nice and also quite varied. The first 3km or so goes through the forests of the grounds then you go around a famous race horse track and museum (think an even posher Ascot). The final couple of km take you through the manicured grounds of the estate for a finish at the steps of the chateaux.
How difficult is Château de Chantilly triathlon?
Not very. The course is flat all the way around and the bike course is fairly straight so not technically challenging. There is some wind on the open stretches of the ride through farmland but nothing major.
The only thing that could cause people problems is the swim which is very mucky and the visibility is poor.
Overall this is a cracking triathlon for people stepping up in distance to half-iron or Olympic and also a good event for kids to try out their first race whilst on holiday.
What’s the atmosphere like?
Most of the triathletes are French, so for Brits there is a little less banter than normal races like this. However, the atmosphere that the organisers build around the race village is up there with some of the bigger races like Blenheim Palace Tri.
What is there to do Après Race?
Loads. You’re only 45 mins from Paris by car and Chantilly itself is a gorgeous French town with lots of nice restaurants. There are plenty of campsites around the area so it’s definitely worth making a weekend of it.
We took a camper van and just parked it up in the car park for the horse race track with no bother. Amazing place to wake up for a race and to chill out afterwards!
My Race Diary
By Joe Tidy, regular triathlete
Position: 18th from last (!)
Time: 3hrs 36mins (!)
I had a strange but really enjoyable race. Me and my tri-buddy decided to do it together as I was injured and he had done no training.
As soon as the race started it was hard for me not to steam off and get stuck in like normal but we stayed together and once I came to terms with the slower than normal pace, I really enjoyed taking it all in and enjoying the stunning setting.
3:36 is my slowest race ever (fastest- 2:32) but it was an event to savour and one I’ll look back on fondly. I might even take my wife back for a trip in the future!