First-ever Portsmouth triathlon is a huge success

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RUNNING 5km before 9am on a Sunday to many would be an achievement in itself.

To the 385 people who participated in Portsmouth’s first-ever Olympic distance triathlon, it was just one part of their morning.

BIG HIT Action from the swim stage at the Portsmouth triathlon. ''Picture: Paul Jacobs (132299-3)

BIG HIT Action from the swim stage at the Portsmouth triathlon. ''Picture: Paul Jacobs (132299-3)

The participants not only ran 10km but swam 1,500m in the Solent and cycled 40km past some of the city’s most iconic sights.

Another 293 entered the sprint distance, which is half the distance covered by the Olympic competitors.

Participants came from all over for the event, which was put on by Portsmouth-based sports company Wiggle in association with Portsmouth City Council and Triathlon England.

Ben Gray, events co-ordinator at Wiggle, said: ‘It’s gone really well, everyone’s had a great time.

‘Triathlon is one of the fastest-growing sports in the world and there is a really strong triathlon club in Portsmouth.

‘A lot of people come down to Portsmouth as a destination. It’s iconic. There’s the Spinnaker Tower, they cycle past the Warrior, the Victory and Southsea Castle, and it’s in the Solent with the Isle of Wight in the background. It’s picturesque.’

Paralympian Lauren Steadman was at the finish line to congratulate the athletes.

Lauren, 20, a student at Portsmouth university, is in training to compete in the triathlon at Rio after starring for Paralympic GB in swimming at London 2012.

She said: ‘I’ve spoken to many of the guys coming across the finish line and they all say they were pleased with their efforts. They found it tough but said they would come back next year. It’s been a really good event.’

Gareth Hall, from Triathlon England, said: ‘About 700 people took part which is a great start to an event, there’s capacity to double that next year – 1,500 people could be very special.’

Pete Campbell, 28, from Portsmouth Triathletes, took first place with a time of 2:00:08.

He said: ‘It was not too bad, quite quick. I liked the bike course through the dockyard.’

For 75-year old Richard Lake, from Chichester, it was just another feather in his cap.

The pensioner has completed around 60 triathlons and 11 iron mans. He finished yesterday in a time of 2hr 54min.

Richard said: ‘It was good. It was the first flat race I have done, I did an event here about 18 years ago and even then we went up Portsdown Hill.’

CERTAIN RETURN OF EVENT FOR NEXT THREE YEARS

COUNCILLOR Lee Hunt was at Castle Field, the start and end point of the triathlon, to show his support for the athletes.

The member for leisure at Portsmouth City Council said the triathlon was a welcome addition to the city and would run for at least three years.

Cllr Hunt said: ‘We want to grow our sport economy and we want people to see Portsmouth as a focus on the south coast of England for great sporting events like this and the Great South Run.’

Lord Mayor of Portsmouth, Cllr Lynne Stagg, was also at the finish line. She said: ‘I think it is absolutely wonderful. It is a fantastic event and Portsmouth is an excellent place to have it.’