Beginners Guide to Triathlon
What sort of image does the word "triathlon" sum up to you?.....perhaps incredibly fit (and probably a bit bonkers!) super humans, sweating and toiling for hours wearing nothing but a piece of revealing lycra? ...or perhaps you thought of the West Wight Triathlon? You would have found one or two of the aforementioned nutters, but the majority of the participants were just "normal" people!
Now in its 10th year, the West Wight Triathlon was set up by West Wight Sports Centre as an event that would be fun (no really!), friendly and a realistic challenge for a person of average fitness.
Of the 200+ competitors each year, there are usually around 50 first time triathletes. This is an amazing statistic for the organisers, whose goal was always to appeal to people who had perhaps watched those lycra-clad loonies with awe, but never really felt confident enough to actually go out and do it for themselves. With 25% of the participants doing their first triathlon each year, and many coming back each year for more, it safe to say that the goal has been reached.
It's a scary concept - there's so much to think about when it is your first tri. What do you wear? Do you change out of your swimsuit in the transition area before getting on your bike? What indeed, is a "transition area"? Will I be last? What if I get a puncture?...and that's just a few of the questions going through your head, never mind the fact that you're just about to swim 600 metres; cycle 35 kilometres and then run 7.5 km; one after the other...without a rest in between! But the team of volunteers, marshals and helpers do a great job of putting everybody at ease with a friendly team handling the registration process and a lot of laughs from the commentator. And as competitors go round the course, you will find the marshals have all been briefed and will shout your name as you pass. We ask for interesting, funny (and possibly scandalous!) information on the entry form to ensure the commentator has lots to talk about - it really is great fun!
But above all else, the personal satisfaction achieved by putting in the training and completing the event takes some beating - and it does feel really good to say "I've done a triathlon"!
Having said all that, it is a competitive event and there are some spectacular prizes created by Paul Critchley of Diamond Isle Sculptured Glass to be won. The top triathletes will finish inside two hours- these are serious athletes - the majority of competitors finished in around 2 to 3 hours.
There is a team event as well - you can enter as a team of either two or three people. Winners for far too many years have been the team put together by Martin Piper - we'd love a team to be beat him!!!! Again though, there is a much bigger emphasis on the less serious - with the best team name do far being "Gin'll fix it"!
If you're one of those tempted to go out and have a go at something a bit challenging, but need a friendly face and a bit of encouragement, then the West Wight Triathlon is most definitely the one for you. Go to www.westwight.co.uk to find out more.
More tips and advice can be found in 220 magazine