Sunday 8th July will go down on record in more ways than one for The Festival of Endurance at Hever Castle. The hottest day of the summer so far, saw 1500 awe-inspiring long distance triathletes, marathon runners and swimmers take on a challenge of a lifetime in difficult conditions.

The environment was such that the temperature of the open water swim mirrored that of the running and bike course at 26 degrees, a first for any Castle Series event. The water was therefore declared compulsory non-wetsuit, adding for come the difficulty of an already brutal course. Meanwhile many athletes were unable to finish despite the most valiant efforts. Simply, the 5th edition of The Bastion was one the toughest Festivals of Endurance yet, setting the scene for some incredible racing from our full and half iron triathletes, Aquathlon and Aquabike competitors and marathon runners and swimmers.

Spectators stunned to witness Iron Distance sprint finish

With the heatwave peaking on Sunday, athletes faced a particularly difficult cycle and run, with 20% of the field not finishing the course. Despite the difficult conditions, spectators saw a highly competitive end to the women’s Bastion race. In a Festival of Endurance first, a stunning sprint finish, on the final straight in front of Hever Castle, sent spectators wild, with Lucy Biddlestone beating Isabella Boyer Moulin by just six seconds and allowing Biddlestone to retain her crown for the third year in a row. On retaining her title, Lucy commented, “You never really know who is going to be racing you on the day, Isabella really threw it down and made us all work really hard so I’m really grateful to her as well. Isabella totally made the race what it was.”

The men’s race saw Bastion newcomer and TriSutto athlete Sion Stansfield take the top spot with an impressive time of 10:18:40, joined by Sam Walsh and Michael Lavender on the podium. As well as welcoming new faces to the Bastion, this Sunday also saw both Matthew Dowle and Anthony Gerundini  return to the full-iron course, with both now completing the epic endurance feat five times. Matthew was also joined on the course by wife Johanna Dowle who, after supporting Matthew for four years in a row, decided to take on her first full iron distance race. The newcomer took third place on the podium. The Dowle couples’ incredible performance this weekend was no doubt a huge inspiration to their budding triathlete children who joined them to run the finishing straight to welcome Johanna across the finish line.

Men’ Bastion Finishers:

1st –  Sion Stansfield – 10:18:40

2nd – Sam Walsh – 10:55:28

3rd – Michael Lavender – 10:59:15

Women’s Bastion Finishers:

1st – Lucy Biddlestone – 11:53:14

2nd – Isabelle Boyer Moulin – 11:53:20

3rd – Johanna Dowle – 14:01:20

Sam Wade and Catherine Jameson crowned British Middle Distance Age Group Champions

Meanwhile, this year the Festival of Endurance had the honour of hosting the British Triathlon Middle Distance Championships, with 400 athletes taking on the Gauntlet (half iron distance race) to fight for the title of British Middle Distance Age Group Champion. The race saw Castle Triathlon Series veterans Sam Wade and Catherine Jameson take the wins in their respective races.

With a close battle on all legs in the men’s race, Sam Wade emerged as the race champion in the final stages of the sun, followed closely by Sam Pictor and Tom Davis. In the women’s race Catherine Jameson retained her crown for a second year, having dominated the swim and winning with a 15 minute lead. On finishing, Jameson commented, “It was a last-minute decision for me to race yesterday as I wasn’t planning to do a Middle-Distance race until later in the year. I felt I had a solid race after losing quite a bit of time on the bike due to a mechanical issue. The course itself is brutal, but beautiful. It tests you to your limits but the organisation and support on course is amazing. I love all the races in the Castle Triathlon Series and would highly recommend them to all athletes, no matter if you are a first-timer or a seasoned Pro.”

Men’s Podium finishers:

1st – Sam Wade – 4:32:07 (AG 25-29)
2nd – Sam Pictor – 4:33:26 (AG 25-29)
3rd – Thomas Davis – 4:33:59 (AG 20-24)

Women’s Podium Finishers:

1st – Catherine Jameson – 5:04:07 (AG 30-34)
2nd – Claire Weller – 5:19:33 (AG 25-29)
3rd – Kate Mactear – 5:19:47 (AG 25-29)

Tri for good and Channel 4 programme

Castle Triathlon Series continues to fundraise for the incredible work Macmillan Cancer Support do to help people living with cancer, following on from raising £130,000 on 2017. With the aim of raising £250,000 by the end of 2018, this Sunday saw 65 athletes fundraise for Macmillan, including 16 people who were taking on the Bastion. Television cameras also followed the action from dawn to dusk, from swim start to the final competitor crossing the finishing line, with a bespoke documentary of the day being aired on the 4th of August 2018.

Sign up now for Festival of Endurance 2019 (7th July) and enjoy an early bird 30% discount.