Shropshire welcomes triathletes from across the country

Shropshire has found itself at the heart of regional triathlons with those unable to take place at other venues moving to the county because of Covid19.

Sunday saw the popular Shropshire Triathlon take place in and around the Mere in Ellesmere, with 600 competitors lining up at staggered starts - just one of several changes made to ensure the event passed strict virus rules.

Organisers, UK Triathlon, revealed that two of its other September events, the Nantwich and the Birmingham Triathlons, would now go ahead at Alderford Lake in Whitchurch.

Louise Minchin exits from the swim

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Keith Hancock from UK Triathlon, said thanks must go to Shropshire Council for allowing the triathlon to take place at the mere. And he said Alderford had also worked with UK Triathlon to ensure that both the Nantwich and the Birmingham Triathlons to now be staged there.

"We are looking forward to showing competitors from those events how beautiful Shropshire is," he said.

In Ellesmere, changes to the triathlon included having to have individual swim starts rather than the normal, mass starts.

One of the swimmers

And the run course was also changed so competitors did not run on the narrow footpaths to the back of the mere.

Those taking part travelled from as far away as the south coast, South Wales and Yorkshire. But there were also scores of Shropshire competitors.

While there were several elite competitors, there were also first time triathletes and those doing the event as a relay.

Oswestry Olympian Mike Kirk

Oswestry Olympian athlete Mike Kirk said: "There is no substitute for race fitness, but it was great to be out, and the support was superb. It does help to train on the course, and the camaraderie from everyone is great. I think we all have little demons in our head with certain disciplines, but to overcome them makes you stronger."

First time triathlete, Debbie Watson, who lives in Ellesmere, said: "This time last year I stood on the pavement and cheered on the competitors of the Shropshire tri. Fast forward 12 months and I've just completed my first ever sprint tri, and I'm hooked.

"I needed a new challenge, I've done two half marathons and Tough Mudder.

A competitor at the triathlon

"I started training in January, not able to put my head in water and breathe and got myself a road bike having never ridden one before. "

Debbie took lessons with Swimfinity, upped her other training and said it had paid off.

"I'm hoping to complete an Olympic next year and even considering a half iron-man. I turn 40 next year and what an achievement that would be. Big praise to UK triathlon for a well-organised event considering the current situation and a shout out to the marshals and supporters, it really makes a difference on the day."

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