Triathlon races funds for canal restoration

Competitors in a triathlon with a difference were able to see the work that is needed to restore the route they took back to its former glory.

Welshpool mayor, Councillor Allison Davies, talks to some of the paddlers
Welshpool mayor, Councillor Allison Davies, talks to some of the paddlers

The Montgomery Canal Triathlon run by the Friends of the Montgomery Canal saw 117 entrants cycle, paddle and walk or run 28 miles from Newtown to Crickheath, south of Oswestry.

Restoration is underway to allow boats to navigate the length of the canal between Newtown and where it joins the Llangollen canal near Ellesmere.

Competitions in the triathlon came not only from Shropshire and Montgomeryshire but from across Britain. The oldest who completed the challenge were over 80, the youngest under 10.

The event started at the new and unfinished ‘Severn Space – Gofod Hafren’, under development by Newtown’s new community trust Open Newtown. Local MP Craig Williams, an enthusiastic supporter of the canal, started the entrants off with the assistance of Newtown Mayor Richard Williams.

From Newtown participants cycled 12 miles along the towpath to Belan Locks, south of Welshpool.

At Belan, bikes were swapped for canoes for and paddling a five and a half mile section through Welshpool.

Welshpool Town Lock, the first on the canal to be restored, was by-passed by the more hasty competitors who carried their craft, others went through the lock in their canoes, carefully managed by the volunteer team.

The Mayor of Welshpool, Councillor Allison Davies was there to cheer the paddlers through the lock at Welshpool and discussed with Town Council colleagues the opportunities the canal offers the town.

The canoe section finished at Crowther Hall Lock which was the start of the final nine and a half miles on foot to the finish at Schoolhouse Bridge, Crickheath, south of Oswestry. This section included two more road crossings at blockages on the A483 and three more at minor roads as well as the border crossing at Llanymynech.

Christine Palin, Chairman of the Friends of the Montgomery Canal said, “Anyone who has planned an event through the months of Covid will know the uncertainty that continues until the event gets under way. This year’s Triathlon had to face all that with the addition of a changed format caused by a towpath closure north of this year’s finish, where the volunteers of the Shropshire Union Canal Society are busy restoring a section of derelict canal. We had to run the event at a different time of year too, and this meant much effort by the Canal & River Trust and volunteers of its local adoption group to trim the towpath hedge and clear the worst of the weed in the canal itself. Our appreciation and grateful thanks must go to them and to nearly a hundred volunteers who helped on the day to keep the triathletes safe and guide them on their way.

“Despite all this, the event was a great success. Entrants were most appreciative of the organisation telling us that all our volunteers had been so friendly and helpful. There was praise for the area the canal runs through and many telling us they are now looking forward to the next Triathlon."

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