City to get a Wiggle on

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Organisers of the Wiggle Portsmouth Triathlon are predicting a bumper turnout with the sun set to shine on Sunday’s inaugural event.

Forecasted blue skies will greet nearly 700 athletes as they converge on Southsea for the competition.

Hopefuls will battle for glory at Olympic and sprint distances, while there is also a team competition over the longer course.

The swims take place along Southsea seafront, while entrants will ride their bikes through Gunwharf Quays, the Historic Dockyard and the Portsmouth Naval Base.

Competitors will then return to the seafront for the run – passing Garrison Church in Old Portsmouth before finishing at the Pyramids Centre.

Tania Almond, Portsmouth City Council’s triathlon officer, believes the iconic course has inspired the ‘incredible’ multi-national turnout.

She said: ‘We have received just short of 700 entries.

‘For the first triathlon in the series (a second is pencilled in for 2014) – we think that is excellent.

‘We have got athletes flying over to compete from France and Belgium which is incredible.

‘With the Triathlon World Championships in London last weekend, there have also been a couple of athletes who have come over from the United States to compete and subsequently entered the Portsmouth Triathlon as well – which is fantastic.

‘Entrants have all said how iconic the course is.’

And Almond believes athletes will be greeted with perfect conditions.

She said: ‘It’s very flat which means it is going to be very fast – certainly the roads along the seafront are so smooth. For a bike ride it is a bit of a dream.

‘The weather forecast is also very good.

‘Crucially, five mile-per-hour winds are expected which means it should be a flat calm sea.

‘Visually it will look brilliant to see so many swimmers out in the sea.’

They go out in waves of 50 every 10 minutes around a 1,500m course.

Athletes then pass through Portsmouth Naval Base – an area not normally open to the public.

‘The last time a triathlon or any kind of race went through there was in 1991, which was an international triathlon filmed live on BBC’s Grandstand’, said Almond.

‘So it’s not the first time triathlon has been to Portsmouth.

‘But there has certainly been a surge in interest since the Olympics.

‘That’s thanks to the Brownlee brothers and our very own paralympian Lauren Steadman.

‘Although she may not be competing on Sunday, she will be in attendance.

‘I expect people in Southsea will also come out – wanting to know what’s going on and why the roads are closed!

‘But I’m sure they will realise there is something special going on when they see all of the bikes whizzing past at 30 miles-per-hour.’

The Wiggle Portsmouth Triathlon takes place on Sunday – starting on Castle Field, Clarence Esplanade (7am).

Olympic distance races comprise of a 1,500m swim, 40km cycle and 10km run. Each discipline is halved for the sprint.