The up and coming sport: Try out a triathlon

With triathlons attracting the highest increase in participation out of any other sports at the moment, reporter Laura Burge headed along to a camp to ‘tri’ out some training.

I THINK most people will probably, like me, have tried cycling, swimming and running. What is less likely, however, is someone having tried all three in succession. The triathlon.

I went along to Kingshott School in Hitchin to give it a go. Led by Howard Davis - founder of Tri1 - and accompanied by eight-year-old Luke Temple and 12-year-old Alice Payne, I was pretty much thrown into the deep-end. Almost literally.

I wasn’t too worried to begin with, actually. My mum used to be a swimming teacher, I was a national cross-country runner in my teens and I went out on my bike enough times when younger to be competent enough at cycling. But throw all three together, and I quickly found out it is pretty difficult.

The plan was to swim 200m in the school’s swimming pool, followed by three laps of the field on the bike and one lap running. This is significantly less than an Olympic triathlon (1.5km swim, 40km ride, 10km run), but the camps are aimed at 7-15 year-olds. Either way, I thought it was pretty achievable.

I’m not sure what was more embarrassing - the fact that I was completely wrong on that front, or that both Alice and Luke beat me. And not by a slim margin either.

Having not done any swimming for a considerable amount of time (unless you include messing around in the sea while on holiday), even those eight lengths were pretty tricky. And by the time I got used to it, I was out of the pool and onto the cycle laps.

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I didn’t execute those much better, and the run at the end - well, by that point I was pretty shattered. I used to be able to run for miles, yet running not even one on this occasion was almost too much.

My transitions were probably the worst. Not exactly renowned for my grace, I forgot to turn my top the right way round and left one shoelace untied when exiting the pool. The other two managed just fine, so it must just have been me.

Having said all that, I think having the opportunity to be able to put this sport into practice is great. There’s certainly no disputing the health benefits, but I think it’s actually much more than that.

Youngsters seem to really enjoy it, and I did too - I just think I could do with a bit of practice! But after all, that’s the point of training. You work hard, you get better.

The triathlon seems to encourage a number of skills besides sporting prowess too - concentration, motivation. The ability to get dressed REALLY quickly.

It’s not easy to train for triathlon necessarily, unless you’re willing to jump into a freezing lake and risk drowning. That’s why these camps and sessions are so great. Plus, I got my medal at the end - now proudly displayed on my desk.

For more information about Tri1 and camps, visit www.tri1.co.uk