Written by Sharon Bowie
We arrived at Cholmondeley Castle and were pleasantly surprised how spacious the event was. We parked and headed towards ‘The Village’, which had a relaxed, friendly vibe to it. People were clearly enjoying themselves and the event wasn’t rammed to capacity, which created an intimate ambiance.
The Mixed Team Relay consisted of 2 males and 2 females, each person completing their triathlon (250m open water swim, 5km bike and 1.5km run) before tagging the next team member.
It was a mixed bag of competitors. At registration, it was clear that there were many teams of varying ages, builds and race experience. Some participants looked apprehensive whilst others were at ease.
As we racked our bikes my nerves were jangling. I was diagnosed with breast cancer in April 2016 and I’m in recovery after undergoing surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy. The reason for competing was to see what I could achieve after a tough year, and get me back into triathlon. So although the distances appeared short, it was still a test for me! Luckily in my team I had 2 Ironman finishers and an experienced triathlon friend to get me through.
I went first in our team knowing the swim was going to be my easiest leg. The lake was on the murky side but that wasn’t too off putting. The water temperature was 20 degrees leading to many of the serious athletes not wearing wetsuits. I opted to wear mine, as I needed to keep the easiest section well within my comfort zone. The swim start was a tad physical but soon the spaces opened up and swim section passed without incident.
The ride was exhilarating! Our cycle route was within the castle grounds and showed off the magnificent location to the full. There were multiple marshals cheering and directing the route, making the bike section enjoyable and stress-free. The biking was soon over and I knew that I could do this!
The run went to the castle on the hill. The cheeky run of only 1.5k was really challenging and I am afraid that I had to run/walk, as I was exhausted. I didn’t stop though! Other competitors seemed to find this element surprisingly difficult too. Running into transition to my husband and friends was over whelming. I was delighted to have completed the course, and not be last as I had feared.
Watching and cheering on my teammates was a pleasure, prompting tears, as 12 months ago I was beginning 18 weeks of chemo. As my husband ran down the hill on the final leg we all gathered and ran over the finishing line together.
On the way home we agreed the event had been amazing. It was well organised, fun, set in a beautiful location and the course had been well balanced and challenging for us all. After chemo, I asked my breast nurse what were my best chances of keeping cancer from returning; I was told to keep exercising as that was the biggest contributing factor to remaining cancer free. So, I will be back next year, and I will hopefully have the stamina to run up that hill!
For more information about the Castle Triathlon Series, please visit their website.