By Tina Miller

I am pretty sure that when the 7 members of HTC signed up for the 3rd running of Arundel Castle Standard triathlon we never dreamed we would have finished it before 8.30am!
The swim takes place in the River Arun, which is one of the fastest flowing rivers in England and is also tidal. There is a period of ‘slack tide’ when the river doesn’t flow quite as fast and on this particular day slack tide was around 5am for a period of about 40 mins. Hence the ridiculously early start. Registration opened at 4am and the first wave of swimmers were due to go off at 5:15am.
Apparently in previous years competitors walked 1.5km upstream and then swam back. But as the organisers were up against it time wise to get the swim completed before the flow started again, the swim was a 750m out and back.
We all looked a bit bleary eyed when we met up in the car park to don wet suits after racking the bikes. HTC were represented by Chris K, Chris G, Tom, Andrew, Helene, Joanne and me. Both Chris G and Joanne were taking part in their first standard distance races.
We queued up on the river bank and watched the first swimmers head off. The river was distinctly chillier than Southwater at 16°C and full of seaweed debris which made swimming pretty interesting. Although the top of the river appeared calm it soon became obvious that there was still an under current. The canoes marking the route had to keep back paddling to stay in place and I honestly thought I would never get to the turnaround buoy even though it was close. My own swim time reflects the current – 24 mins to get to the buoy – 12 mins to swim back to the off ramp!
Andrew put in a pretty amazing swim – having put himself in the wrong group (the slower group) he pulled out a 21 minute swim and was well up the field amongst the fast group. This was only the second time Joanne had swum 1500m and did amazingly well too.
The bike course takes in the A27 & A24 including the sloggy hill of Long Furlong and then turns towards Storrington and Houghton. It’s not a flat course by any means and from Houghton to the outskirts of Arundel it’s one long slog upwards and then suddenly there’s a fast downhill all the way into Arundel.
The run is the toughest part of the event though in my opinion, unless you are a racing snake. A two lap course which takes you round a lake and then a long hill climb around the back of the castle. It reduced more than one competitor to a walk – especially on the second lap. Once at the top though it’s nearly all downhill, including a steep downhill through the town and a flat trail to the finish.
The team did brilliantly.
Tom was first home in 2:09:51 with Andrew hot on his heels in 2:18:55. Head Coach Chris was next in 2:31:12 and Chris G in 2:42:09. Helene was first home for the girls in 3:11:21 with me (Tina) coming in next in 3:20:21 and Joanne doing amazingly well in her first Standard tri finishing in 3:38:55.
I think despite the early start we all enjoyed the event. It was well organized; there was loads of safety cover on the river, the bike course well sign posted with marshalls at key points and plenty of marshalls on the run course too. The usual good quality tee shirt memento and free tea/coffee and a bacon butty at the end.
I would definitely do it again although I might check the tide times first!