Cholmondeley Castle Standard Triathlon Race Report

Review of Cholmondeley Castle standard triathlon

Cholmondeley Castle triathlon was another event deferred from 2020.

I’d entered it in late 2019 as an Olympic distance triathlon that was a bit more challenging than the ones I’d done previously. At the time I was sure I’d be super fit and motivated by the time the race came around!

One year later than planned I arrived at the start line. Not quite as super fit as I’d hoped…….

The preparation

I’ve struggled with training over the last year. I don’t know if it’s due to general Covid lethargy or something else, but every time I’ve tried to increase my training volume, I’ve ended up worn out and having to take a couple of easy weeks to recover.

I did Southport standard distance in May which went reasonably well. But various weekend commitments afterwards meant I had very little time left to prepare for Cholmondeley. Specifically, the hills on the bike course! It’s not exactly mountainous, but there is hardly any flat. Long gradual slopes I can manage but this had at least one steep part. That didn’t help the nerves.

Then the weekend before, I was at Deva Triathlon to do the swim leg as part of a relay. My teammate hurt her ankle and I volunteered to do the run as well. An unscheduled 10k the week before probably wasn’t the best idea. But I did have fun and that’s why we do it.

Overall I arrived at Cholmondeley tired and apprehensive.


Simon was also competing, originally down to do the same as me, he’d switched to aquabike due to a foot injury.

We’d all been given an arrival slot time to go through registration and stop long queues building and it worked pretty well. However Simon had to lurk in the car park for 30 minutes as his wave was later. Could have been a nuisance for some.

Transition was lovely and spacious but no toilets! You could go out and in again thankfully.


lake swim at Cholmondeley Castle

The swim was the now usual rolling start which I like – much less argy bargy. Two laps of the lake with an Australian Exit (where you get out, run a bit and get back in), which I don’t like. While this might be great for spectators at pro races, for us recreational athletes it’s a pain. My goggles fogged up, my heart rate spiked and when I got back in the water I’d totally lost my rhythm and headed off in the wrong direction.

I finally finished the swim in 46:47 – a couple of minutes slower than I’d hoped.



There was a bit of a run along grass to T1. I had a private competition going with Simon to see who could get the best T1 time and I was gutted to find out he beat me by 8 seconds! His wetsuit removal technique has definitely improved.


cycle leg through the castle estate

Out onto the bike and this is where it got tough. The uphill seemed never ending and the downhill bits over far too quickly! I kept it going but it wasn’t fast and at 44km a bit longer than most standard distance courses. The second lap I was on my own – I only saw one other cyclist the whole way round. Simon was only a little behind me by the end and saw nobody. That made it hard mentally. Overall I took 2:10:57 for the bike.


Cholmondeley castle triathlon run

I was SO glad to get out the saddle and onto the run. At Southport in May I’d started with a 3 minute run/1 minute walk strategy and flagged badly after half way. Here I played it more conservatively and went for 2/1. And apart from strategic adjustments for the steeper hilly bits, I managed to maintain this all the way round. I’d been doing some hill reps training sessions recently so I made sure to give it some welly on the downhill sections!

There were still plenty of competitors on the course from the middle distance race so I had company too.

Overall I was happy with my run. It wasn’t my fastest but nor was it my slowest and there were some pretty hilly bits.


Cholmondeley Castle triathlon finish

There was a great downhill run from the Castle to the finish line. I picked up my medal and a selection of edible goodies and collapsed in a sweaty heap.

Simon was there to meet me having enjoyed a relaxing ice cream while I did the run. He too had found the bike course tough.

My overall time was 4:25:51 – outside the published cut-off time of 4:15:00 but nobody seemed to be enforcing this and my time shows in the results. I wasn’t the slowest either – maintaining my record of never actually coming in last place in a triathlon (although it’s been a very close thing on several occasions).


This was a great event in a stunning location. The event centre had plenty of food and drink options and we could relax and watch the final finishers over the line.

The Castle series events are not cheap but they are well organised and provide an excellent range of race options (including kids events) over the 2 days. Simon switched from triathlon to aquabike 3 weeks before the race with no issues.

A few niggles – no toilets in transition or on the run course, that Australian exit on the swim and a couple of bike course marshalls not paying attention as the last cyclists were on the course. And if there was a way for Aquabike competitors to get from transition and cross the finish line after their cycle, Simon didn’t find it!

Those, the toughness of the course, plus the advertised cut-off means I would hesitate call this particularly Tail Ender friendly. But if you’re a decent cyclist and are looking for a challenge, a gorgeous setting and a family friendly event then go for it.

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