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Hyde Park date will attract borough's triathlon fans
6:30am Sunday 27th May 2012 in Sport
TRIATHLON: TRIATHLON enthusiasts in south east Essex cannot wait for the Olympics to start.
And many of them will be heading to Hyde Park to watch the best in the world compete – for free.
Although some area of the triathlon are ticketed – the pool and most of the transitions – parts of the cycling and run will be free.
It’s one of the advantages of a gruelling, multi-faceted sport which only received full Olympic recognition at the Sydney Games in 2000.
East Essex Tri Club captain Zena Shean, from Rayleigh, said hundreds of local enthusiasts would be cheering on competitors.
She said: “There is a lot of excitement about the Games among our membership.
“We’ve got people aged from eight to 80 involved with East Essex Tri and they are all keen to see the best triathletes battle for medals.”
She said the sport’s Olympic recognition and the growing participation of people of all ages had boosted membership of the Essex club which had been formed 20 years ago.
Its membership now exceeds 100 with several other local running clubs – including Benfleet RC – having triathlete sections too.
“In the old days people used to slow down or pack up sport when they got to 40.
“But now people just keep going.
“We’ve found that our veterans – over 40 – section is the strongest.
“People stay competitive these days. And often runners, who have reached a plateau, step up their cycling and swimming as a way of continuing with sport without racking up injuries.
“And when they do triathlon they find that they can still improve, get better and be competitive until much later in life,” she added.
“Part of it is about peoples attitude to cross-training and trying to stay healthy, which means people are happier in the pool and on bikes.”
The social side of Triathlon is addictive too, with East Essex Triathlon attracting plenty of members and even more supporters and friends who often travel with their pals to events in the UK and abroad – including trips to Alp Huez, one of the most famous Tour de France peaks where major events have been staged over the last few years.
With East Essex Tri training at the Basildon Sporting Village, at Runnymeade Pool in Thundersley and around Rayleigh – for the rides – there is plenty going on for members between now and the summer Games.
The next really big event on the calendar for East Essex Tri members will be held at the Basildon Sporting Village on on June 2.
Shean said: “It should be a great chance for people to try out and see if they like triathlon.
“It starts with a 400m swim, then there’s a 30-mile bike ride and finally a 5k run.
“It’s a nice introduction to the sport and because it’s an off-road event you can cycle any type of bike. It does not need to be a road bike. We’re also running a children’s event.”
Those who are interested must sign up in advance – there are no entries on the day – but it is bound to attract a good mix of experienced local triathletes and those just thinking of trying out in the sport.