Conrad Buttery

Castle to Coast

Castle To Coast 23 July 2022 Provider: Fullsteam

Type of Triathlon: Sportive, Point to point

Start: Eton Dorney Lake, Windsor

Finish: Brighton, Hove Lawns

Distances: 1.2mile swim, 64mile bike, 14mile run.

 Firstly, this is not a race! What does this mean? Well, you have a chip for timing and a cut off time of 20:30 with a swim start that is anywhere from 08:30 to 09:00. There are generous cut off times for the three disciplines. That’s it. It’s more a Sportive. There are no prizes or placing for 1st, 2nd or 3rd in age groups. This is the second year it has been run and there was a review of last year's event in 220Triathlon magazine by a guy who claimed to have ‘won’ it, go figure.

I found out about this event from friends at parkrun and decided to join the group, there were four of us - the others having done middle distance Triathlons before.

Unusually for a Triathlon, it’s run on a Saturday. Leading up to the big day there are reassuring regular emails with the race pack arriving 10 days before the event and a video event briefing which is very good and covers everything in detail. New to me is the bag system, which I’m told is very similar to Ironman - there are three bags, blue, red and white with the usual stickers for the bags as well as for your helmet and bike. This is where it gets slightly complicated as there are two options - you can either have everything returned to Dorney lake or forwarded to the finish at Brighton. For an additional fee you can pay for a bus to take you back to Dorney lake. We decided to have everything forwarded to Brighton and make our own way home. We had done this event last year so things weren’t as new or strange to me as they were last year - I wanted to improve on last year’s event. The big worry I had last year was that having finished, that it might be a bit of a hassle getting home, this proved to be quite a challenge, more on this later… One final thing, drafting is allowed on the bike and as a group you can only really go as fast as the slowest person (Me). Having three bags to carry at the end of the event - along with a bike you need to think about how you get home and what I hadn’t quite appreciated fully last year was the need to only pack what you need, otherwise it’s a lot to handle. Best option is to have someone to meet you at Brighton and take you home, our option was to catch the train home to Havant and get picked up from the station. A note on what to wear - since this isn’t a race and there isn’t a premium on time - you can get changed at each transition, where, instead of wearing a Tri suit, you can wear specific kit for the bike and run (the wetsuit was optional).

Registration is just picking up your timing chip and checking it works. Portaloos were available, however there weren’t many and a queue soon grew. The swim itself was well managed, with plenty of marshalls in canoes and on paddle boards along the entire route and shallows to the side - there was an option like last year to do half the swim if you felt you weren’t fit enough. On the bike there are two equally spaced feeding stations and bike mechanics at both - I needed the help of the mechanic at the first feed station - as my main crank had come loose. The feed stations were well stocked with Fullsteam energy sachets available - I’d used these last year and felt happy using them, this in hindsight was not a good move as by the time I got to the second feed station I had stomach issues - it was also getting hot, I was not in a good place. I managed to keep going and once I got back on the bike for the final leg I felt alot better

- I can only put this down to the Fullsteam energy sachets - they didn’t suit me and upset my stomach. I had ignored what one of the guys at the first feedstation had said about them being a bit ‘rich’ and trying half a packet first. Considering it was a Saturday the roads weren’t busy. The route is ‘undulating’ and well sign posted. Once we got to Hassocks it was rack the bike (which is transported by van to the finish at Brighton) pick up the red bag and change into running gear. Ok, there were also showering facilities (very nice), a quick change into running gear and out onto the run. There were three feed stations evenly distanced at 5km intervals, again well stocked. The route is quite pleasant with some quite steep inclines. The final 3-4k on the Brighton seafront is not great - it’s a Saturday early evening and the place is buzzing - there are lots of people to navigate around and it seems to take an age to get to the finish at the Hove Lawns.

Rather than going to Brighton train station we decided to go to Hove station - this was a much better option as there were less crowds to navigate and there was a cycle lane most of the way to the station.

I really did enjoy this Sportive Triathlon. If you are looking for a challenging middle distance or maybe want to see if you can handle something more than an Olympic distance but unsure about the longer distances or maybe trying new kit/equipment, this is a great event. Consider doing it as a group. This isn’t a race, the majority of the routes you will be alone and there aren’t crowds cheering you on.