Darren Jenkins and Bethan Fowler took the titles after a tough day’s racing at The Bastion iron-distance triathlon at Hever Castle on Sunday (12 July).
Australian Jenkins produced a race-best 3hr 15min marathon – 20mins faster than any other competitor – to haul in long-time leader Karl Alexander on the run.
It was testament to the demands of the course that Jenkins, who was fourth in last year’s Challenge Weymouth and has clocked 8.54 in Hawaii, did not break 10hrs for the 3.8km swim, 180km cycle and 42.2km run.
Yet with 2,800m of ascent on a three-lap rolling bike course through Kent’s High Weald and Ashdown Forest, followed by a hilly trail run, he still only missed Fraser Cartmell’s course record set in the inaugural contest last year by 5mins.
“I’ve done 20 Ironmans around the world and that is the toughest course I’ve done anywhere,” he said. “But you get a great personal experience here. You are not ‘just a number’. How many other events have this stunning castle backdrop?”
— Darren Jenkins (@_Nevagivin) July 12, 2015
Alexander, who had both the fastest swim (58:31) and cycle (5:28) in the individual event, admitted he tried to goad Jenkins into upping the pace on the bike in an attempt to take the sting out of his run legs, but the Australian was too canny and resisted.
“I went off well and was first off the bike but kudos to Darren, he was the best on the day,” Alexander said. “This was the toughest event I’ve ever done. If you’re going to do one, make it this one, it has serious bragging rights.”
Professional Bethan Fowler, who has had plenty of domestic success including winning the middle distance Cotswold 113 event last year, was a comfortable winner in the women’s race from Ruth Thompson with Louise Clinton in third.
Bethan Fowler crosses the line
Probably the most remarkable feat though, was by Scarborough’s Anthony Gerundini, who completed his 100th official full iron-distance race and is still enjoying every minute of it.
“I’d forgotten how good this event was having done it last year,” he said. “It is truly stunning. There are so many marshals we are spoilt and the Castle Triathlon Series really look after us. The bike course is a dream.”
Anthony Gerundini celebrates finishing his 100th iron-distance triathlon
Over half of the competitors were first timers, with 61 finishers and 12 DNFs, another mark of how tough a challenge the Bastion presents. It is set to return to Hever Castle on July 10, 2016 and pre-registration is now open here.
1. Darren Jenkins 10:01:15
2. Karl Alexander 10:24:50
3. Matthew Dowle 10:45:35
1. Bethan Fowler 12:04:19
2. Ruth Thompson 13:48:22
3. Louise Clinton 15:50:11
Did you race The Bastion? Let us know in the comments below!