When I did my first Triathlon 7 years ago my wife came to watch. It was in the beautiful New Forest and the sun was shining and it was a great weekend away. My wife commented how 'friendly' these events felt - families came to watch, dogs and picnics were welcome. Even the "athletes" (and I use that term relatively loosely) were friendly to each other. If you pass someone on the bike they say well done and likewise you wish them encouragement. Try that on a cycle sportive and you will get a blank stare.

Its really a challenge against yourself - a metaphor for life. You try and control the variables you can control; the rest is just noise.

This year I have returned to doing some Tri's in addition to cycling. And my second Tri event was the Hever Castle Middle Distance. The area is my old stomping ground - Brett, Dean and I used to batter each other up and down the long drags to the Ashdown Forest. Its a very tough course - you are either climbing or descending; there was 1500m of elevation in 56 miles -its hillier than the average sportive.

Hever Castle is a great place - we take the kids here all the time and often go for picnics by the lake. So my kids found it very cool that Daddy was allowed to swim in the lake.
A Triathlon is fantastic fun for kids - there is so much spectacle. A swim is striking to watch, Transition always has comedy falls and the run gives plenty of chances for high fives.
And with a big event there is always lots of food stalls, pumping music and a general sense of occasion.

To the race itself

The Swim - I jumped in; got wet. Swam around the lake and got out.

Transition - comedy. Took me 2 minutes to get my shoes on. Amateur hour...

The bike was fun - and no mechanical issues which is a blessing on Kent roads. Annoyingly my inability to descend quickly on a road bike is following me to TTs. Going down hill, as soon as it hits 55+kmh I want to be nearer the brakes than on the aerobars (especially on non closed roads).
The last half Ironman I did I had the fastest bike split; this time I was only 4th.
I rode my Speed Concept and a Zipp 808/Disc combo. Maximum bling. I am not sure its even a deep wheel course; my average speed was only 21 mph. But if you buy race wheels you might as well use them!

The run was mental - it was like the worse cross country course you ever did at school. I was praying for some roads so I could get into a rhythm - alas no. It was either up, down, left or right, grass, sand or stone.
Without doubt the slowest half marathon I have ever done.

In the end I did 5.11 on a slow course. That was good enough for 6th place overall and 2nd in the over 40s (Christ, when did I become a 'veteran'?).
My boys got to run down the finishing shoot with Daddy and then got their broken Dad some Coke.

My main event later in the year is a full Ironman. Lots of people say you should not do halves as training for a full. The theory is that the intensity is too high and it takes too much out of you (so you can lose a week of training after). I fundamentally disagree. Our summers are so short, as is the racing season. You need to make hay when the sun is (literally) shining. And the main thing is that endurance sports are often selfish activities - getting up at 5am to drive solo to do a Sportive and then return (shattered) at 4pm is not exactly a family friendly Sunday.

But an event where the whole family can have fun - sign me up every time.