Andali Fitness and Events, a member of the LGL directory, has taken over the reins of running Ludlow’s hotly anticipated Storm the Castle Duathlon this April. He gives us the ‘run down’ about why he and his business partner, Harriet, have chosen to take over the course, gives us details on the run and cycle route and explains how athletes can prepare for the big day. Plus, how you can find the best places for watching the event and what happens on the day.
1. In under 4 weeks, athletes will ascend and descend the hills in and around Ludlow. What type of course are athletes facing with Storm the Castle duathlon?
The Storm the Castle duathlon is a notoriously challenging course. The run-bike-run format is challenging on any terrain, but the hills around the course give it a bit of added spice: on the run routes, we have the infamous Lactic Ladder, a trail section that takes runners up to the beautiful Whitcliffe Common, and the road route takes you up Dinham Hill against the backdrop of the magnificent Ludlow Castle. The bike route is a mix of fast, flat open road, with a couple of decent climbs and exhilarating descents thrown in for good measure. Both the short and long course have great views, not that the cyclists will necessarily have the chance to appreciate them!
2. Andy, we know about your background as a fitness trainer; why did you and your partner, Harriet, decide to take over the event, and what, if anything, is different about the course this year?
Between us, Harriet and I have stormed the castle ten times, so when Be Endurance announced that they were no longer able to host this amazing local race, we, along with many other people, thought that it would be a huge loss for Ludlow as well as for the duathlon community as a whole – there aren’t many races like it out there. Initially, we both approached Dermott independently to see if there was a way forward, but once we discovered this, we realised this was a great opportunity to team up to continue the Be Endurance legacy.
Harriet discovered the wonderful world of multi-sport about five years ago. Before then, she had done a bit of cycling but had only run up to 5km. Juggling a toddler with a full-time fundraising job, Harriet signed up for another Be Endurance event, Storm the Fort, in Clun. She loved the challenge and the satisfaction of achieving what seemed a monumental goal and started entering other races, like Storm the Castle. She wants others to have the opportunity to race locally too!
Apart from reinstating the grounds of Ludlow castle as the finish, the course remains the same. However, we are very excited about something new for 2023, as we have introduced a short course option (5km run, 22km bike and 2.5km run). The full course is tough, and we wanted to provide a more accessible, yet still challenging, alternative for those who are maybe starting in a duathlon or working up the full distance. This has proved very popular amongst the sign-ups and will allow athletes of all abilities to join in the fun.
3. We love the regal hierarchy from peasant (completion of 1 race) to King and Queen (5 completed events), but this question is purely about #fitnessgoals. What level of fitness is required to enter the event? How would you help someone prepare who has yet to do it?
Thank you, we love the regal hierarchy too and decided early on that we really wanted to keep this aspect of the race rather than go down a simpler route. Along with the amazing finish in Ludlow castle’s Outer Bailey, the regal hierarchy is a unique and appealing aspect of this race.
The wonderful thing about Storm the Castle is that we see such a wide field of athletes – from elite participants to complete novices – some trying out duathlon for the first time, and some have taken part in all nine races. This variety was a key factor when discussing the Short Course option.
Generally, for the Short Course option, a fairly basic level of fitness, some run time and saddle time will prepare you sufficiently to complete it. However, it goes without saying that more training is vital if you want to compete. On the STC website, there are a couple of three-month training programme examples that highlight the build-up of training over a number of weeks, increasing the distance of the runs and bike ride. In the weeks approaching race day, introducing ‘brick’ sessions, combining two or more elements of the duathlon, is a great idea and accustoms your body to running on jelly legs.
Strength training is one element that athletes often neglect but is also key to their preparation. Examples are on the Andali Events Facebook and Instagram social media accounts.
4. Regarding the route, cyclists are taking in some of the most scenic bits south of Ludlow, including Leintwardine, Bromfield and Wigmore. However, what should locals be aware of on race day when travelling around the route, and where is it best for people to cheer on race participants?
The best spots for encouraging and supporting the athletes are on Dinham bridge, in and around Ludlow castle and Whitcliffe Common. (Dinham Bridge, in particular, will, at times, be busy as the bike leg concludes and the second run gets underway) heading up to the Castle to watch athletes cross the finish line. We have an event village planned with food and drink traders such as Beefy Boys, Pizza Girls, a hog roast, and Divine Donuts, as well as activities for the whole family.
To keep our athletes safe whilst, on the run course, we have some road closures from the top of Whitcliffe Common, Middlewood Road, Lower Wood Road, the Linney and Dinham. These will all be marked two weeks in advance with street signage and residents’ letters and notices to businesses. The road closures and associated diversions will be in place from 0730 until about midday. The bike route is on open roads, but please do look out for cyclists on the roads, giving them lots of space when you pass and feel free to cheer them on as they pass Bromfield, Leintwardine, Wigmore and Pipe Aston,
5. Finally, you’ve gone for gold and have a fantastic line-up of local supporters. What does it say about Ludlow town do you think?
We have been completely overwhelmed by the support that we have received from local companies. Honestly, we don’t think we would have been able to host this event without their support, and we believe this shows how much local businesses appreciate how much events like Storm the Castle bring to the town. And let’s remember the unsung heroes. We have received amazing support from volunteers and marshals, again without which we would be unable to host the race. It’s been great to get to know so many lovely people over the last twelve months.
THE IMPORTANT BITS
Storm the Castle takes place on Sunday 23rd April 2023
LOCATION: Ludlow Rugby Club, Ludlow, Shropshire SY8 1EE Ludlow Castle, Castle Square, SY8 1AY
Storm the Castle Full Course – 08:00
Storm the Castle Short Course – 08:00
Junior Storm – 11:00
Storm the Castle Full Course Standard Relay – 08:00
Storm the Castle Short Course Relay Standard Entry – 08:00
To enter or find out more, visit the STORM THE CASTLE website.