Triathlon marks 25th anniversary in style

Triathlon marks 25th anniversary in style

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Scott Richardson

Entrants into this year’s Tonbridge Triathlon are to receive a special medal marking the sporting challenge’s 25th anniversary.

The event on Bank Holiday Monday, May 2, has previously attracted Team GB squad members including former Tonbridge Athletic Club member Scott Richardson.

Organisers, Tonbridge Lions, are expecting around 500 competitors this year, with amateur enthusiasts lining up alongside elite athletes.

Two of the founding members of the charity event, Tom McHenry and Marshall Browning, have seen the triathlon, which uses Tonbridge School’s sports facilities, grow to become a major part of the area’s event calendar.

The triathlon is split into two distances: Standard, which comprises an 800m swim, 50k cycle and 10k run; and Sprint, a 400m swim, 25k cycle and 5k run; as well as a relay which is part of the Sprint category.

Mr McHenry said: “It has just been amazing over the years. It all started 25 years ago from a conversation I’d had with a young student that got us thinking that Tonbridge needed a triathlon event of its own.

“Tonbridge School has been very supportive to us over the years and it has some great facilities including the swimming pool there, which has previously been used by South African and Australian Olympic squads training for the 2012 Games, so the course is Olympic standard.”

The Lions member is proud that the event has helped raise more than £200,000 for good causes.

The Tonbridge event was one of the first triathlons in the region and remains highly regarded by the many professional competitors who take part in it.

Mr McHenry also believes the success of British triathletes Alistair and Jonathan Brownlee at the Olympics in 2012 has been another factor in attracting an ever growing number of spectators.

“You have to be over 16 to compete and it’s open to men and women of all ages. Until a couple of years ago we had 78-year-old Helen James, entering,” added Mr McHenry.

Fellow Lion Marshall Browning was also at the event’s launch 25 years ago. He said: “There have been a lot of changes over the years. When we started out there were 110 competitors and now it is up to about 500.

“Originally, I was handing out starting packs to the athletes from my garage, but now there’s a proper area for them at Tonbridge School.

“Another big change has been with the bikes. It used to just be if it had two wheels you could bring it along, but we are seeing bikes now that are worth up to £8,000.”

For details on how to enter visit www.tonbridgetriathlon.co.uk