Continuing swim, bike, run in Southport 10 years on from triathlon revival

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Southport Triathlon will celebrate 10 years this weekend with 1,000 triathletes taking on either the sprint or standard distance at an event which will continue the history of swim, bike, run in the town spanning four decades.

Among the participants this weekend will be age group athletes hoping to qualify to represent the Great Britain Age-Group Team at the 2023 European Standard Distance Triathlon Championships.

The first event of the modern Southport Triathlon was in 2012, but the history of swim, bike, run goes back much further as event organiser Rob Macleod of Epic Events explains.

“Myself and one of my friends were involved in participating in triathlons and we had seen there wasn’t really a lot happening in and around the Lancashire and Merseyside area,” Macleod recalls when discussing the history of the event.

“We had also seen videos of the original Southport Triathlon from 1989 when Mark Allen took part when he was world champion. It’s just mad when you see it. You had the world champion cycling along the coastal road with cars going past him. That wasn’t the only year the race had happened so after seeing that we started to make some enquires into whether we could set-up a triathlon in Southport again and resurrect it.”

The event is centred around Southport’s Marine Lake, where the swim is held before the bike course takes participants along the coastal road on closed roads and then a run course around the Marine Lake.

Thousands of people have taken on either the sprint or standard distance in the seaside town since the inaugural event, with Southport Triathlon having been a regular qualifying event for the Great Britain Age-Group Team in recent years as well as hosting both Triathlon England and BUCS Championships.

“It’s definitely grown over the years,” Macleod said. “The first one we started from scratch, so we didn’t have any databases to advertise to or anything like that. I think the first one we had three to four hundred people taking part, which we thought was good considering where we had come from, and then it’s built up over the years and we started getting qualifier status.

“We do get a full range of entrants. The sprint distance in particular attracts a lot of novices. I think it’s because they don’t find it a daunting course, although if the wind is blowing it is quite tough. It’s very flat, very pleasant, nice scenery and if the sun is shining and the wind isn’t too much it’s really nice to be out there.”

Whilst this weekend’s event will be 10 years since the first event, Southport Triathlon was forced to missed a year in 2020 due to the pandemic, but, after a restricted event last year, the organisers are looking forward to marking the milestone.

“The best thing for me has been seeing the event grow and progress from being in its infancy of around 300 people to well over a thousand and hosting the national and BUCS Championships,” Macleod commented.

“There have been challenges, especially over the last couple of years through the pandemic. We didn’t manage to do it in 2020 but we did manage to get it on in 2021. It was the first kind of significant sporting event in Merseyside, and we were under the microscope a little bit but because we had been around for a while, they did trust it. The hardest part has not only been getting the number of entrants but also recruiting volunteer marshals.

“The last time we were able to operate an unrestricted event was three years ago so just seeing that again and seeing all the athletes racing together shoulder-to-shoulder and having spectators back is what I’m most looking forward to.”

To find out more about Southport Triathlon, please visit https://epicevents.co.uk/southport-triathlon/

To find swim, bike, run events near you, please visit https://www.britishtriathlon.org/events/search

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