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The Cheshire club making a big impact


In the two years since Nantwich Triathlon Club were first formed, they’ve had a big impact with the club recognised nationally at the recent 2023 HUUB Triathlon England Awards.

Club secretary Sam Lee was named Triathlon England’s Adult Volunteer of the Year, one of two national awards the club picked up on the night as Nantwich were also the winner of the Wellbeing Award for their work within the community.

The club was started in September 2020 by club chair and Head Coach Paul McIntyre and has grown from a post in a Facebook group to now 50 active members and a further 350 involved with the club online.

“We cater for everyone,” McIntyre said. “We’ve got members doing their first sprint triathlons this year, which is great to see, and then at the other end of the spectrum we’ve got members doing their first Iron distance triathlons, plus everything in between, so there’s lots going on, but we make it so it’s a place where everyone can come and get something out of it.”

There are many success stories within the club, including club secretary, Sam Lee.

Her own personal story within the sport has helped inspire other women to get involved and was one of the reasons why she received national recognition, alongside the many other tasks she completes for the club.

“Triathlon has honestly changed me as a person,” Lee said. “If I can just give a little bit of something back, it's great. I was weighing in at 20 stone, I couldn't run five metres, let alone 5km. I was a bit of a recluse. I was sat in my house, no interest in sport or anything. I joined a local running club and then six months later Paul McIntyre started and took me under his wing and my triathlon journey started from there.

“When somebody created a bucket list for my 40th birthday and a close friend put a triathlon on it, I was like ‘no way, never’. I can't swim, I don't own a bike and I could just run 5k. So, from that September, I started training and did my first triathlon in May the following year and I’ve now signed up to my first IRONMAN event this year.”

Mary Lea is the club’s welfare officer and was inspired watching the sport on TV at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. She thought triathlon wasn’t for her, but a conversation with Paul McIntyre soon changed that and it wasn’t long until she was attending a club session.

“I've had hip replacements, I have a congenital hip condition, so I had never run, and I was terrified of cycling, so I thought triathlon was definitely not for me,” Lea said. “Everyone was so encouraging, and they just made me feel that, yes, I could perhaps do this.

“Paul set up some beginner cycling sessions and I was nearly in tears the first time because I was terrified of being on a bike. I did my first triathlon last year and my husband said, ‘I've never seen you smile so much as you did on that bike’. That’s thanks to the club. They help you to believe in yourself that you can do this. It's about the community, it's a family feel.”

During the club’s short existence so far, Nantwich Triathlon Club has looked to put itself in the heart of its local community in Cheshire.

The club supported the town’s Pride event last year and also hosts a monthly 5km community walk/run event, named ‘The Dabbers Dash’, around one of the town’s parks.

“We try to be a small club with a global outlook that coexists with its community in a sustainable way,” McIntyre added. “We've got an EDI lead in the club, and we made that a committee position. We've also got a sustainability and wellbeing lead.

“We do lots of things, such as community runs on the park like the one this morning for This Girl Can. We plant trees with Cheshire Wildlife Trust, we encourage people to do CPR courses for British Heart Foundation and we support St Luke's Hospice.

“To me, triathlon is a lifestyle. The podium is truly safe from me, but triathlon at grassroots level is about how it helps communities, how it can be a lifestyle that coexists with what's around you because no one loses when they do triathlon. That’s the environment we went to create here.”

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