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Swim, ride, run success for Andover club

Andover Triathlon Shaun Green Paul and Mark Wills
Shaun Green, Paul Wills and Mark Wills

This year’s Andover Triathlon went ahead today, despite ever-changing Covid restrictions and people came from far and wide to participate.

The event run by Andover Triathlon Club welcomed 90 competitors to Farleigh School for the first time in two years to take part in the swim, cycle and run event. 

Race Director Rob Savill told Andover Radio, “We are so grateful to the people who attended this year’s event to compete with us.

“Next year we are aiming to be back to our normal level of competitors and include a children’s race”.

Today’s event saw hardy competitors take part in a 440m swim, followed by a 30km bike ride across the Test Valley and an 8.3km run.  Applause greeted participants as they completed their transition from bike ride to running race and again as they gratefully passed the finish line.

As many other triathlons across the south were cancelled, people from as far afield as Cambridge today.  Ben Wilson and Gemma Colucci travelled from London to take part in their first triathlon.  Ben told us, “Being in lockdown meant I got into cycling and thought it might be a good idea to take part in a triathlon.

“We may come back next year, it’s a well organised event, a great pool and great scenery on the run”.

95.9FM Andover Radio was at the event today, with DJ Chris Burford from ‘DJ Chris B’s Party Anthems‘ giving the event a big of a party atmosphere.

Rob Savill added, “We have done our best to make today’s event as secure as possible.  The restrictions we had to put in place were quite difficult, so we had to pull the children’s event, but the adult race went ahead, albeit with limited space”.

After the swimming event completed, Rob told us, “The last wave of the swim was exciting with a number of, shall we say, very competitive athletes.  They had a great time as there was quite an empty pool.”

Ahead of the 8.3km run, Swimmers were then required to participate in a 30km bike ride.  “We are not exactly a sprint”, says Rob.  “It’s a nice race for those who want to move up from a sprit to a standard distance race through absolutely gorgeous countryside through Stockbridge and the villages.

“It’s just beautiful and although the sun hasn’t come it it has been dry and not too hot, which is really important.  Great conditions for racing.”

The event saw new and regular entrants beat the gruelling challenge.  Sports coach Shaun Green from Andover along with friends, Paul and Mark Wills participated.  Mark made the journey from Glastonbury to take part today, saying, “It’s been a great day and very rewarding”.

Former race director Peter Lewis told Andover Radio, “We had to cancel last year’s event so it’s been great to get it back in the calendar.  It’s great for us as a club to serve the community.

“We have almost 90 adults here and it’s nice to be back.  So, this year’s event is plain sailing for us, but it’s all about putting on a great and safe event for competitors and there have been plenty of smiles on faces today.”

Like everyone during the height of lockdown the club which prides itself on being ‘very social’ had to adapt, Peter adds, “We had to offer virtual classes for people, while trying to maintain the club feel, even though we couldn’t physically get together.

“Since we have been able to get together, we have had to regulate the numbers and be as compliant as can be, but it feels like the club is getting back to what it was before all this madness.”

Concluding the race today was octogenarian Ron Stephenson from Newbury, who got the biggest applause of the day as he crossed the line with a massive smile on his face.  The 80 year old told us, “The most difficult part was the swimming, but it’s been a really great event”.

People interested in joining Andover Triathlon Club can click here to visit their website.  Read and see more in this week’s edition of the Love Andover Observer newspaper.

About the author

David Harber

David Harber is the founder and Managing Director of Love Andover, including the Love Andover Observer newspaper and 95.9FM Andover Radio. He is a fellow at the Royal Society of Arts and a card carrying member of the Nation Union of Journalists.