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Clubbing together for the Leeds virtual challenge


A group of members from East Essex Triathlon Club took on the AJ Bell World Triathlon Leeds Virtual Challenge encouraging one another along the way

“We had a mix of abilities taking part from the club,” said Lucie Hamilton, secretary of East Essex Triathlon Club. “We were able to come together and support one another whilst taking on the challenge in different ways.

“We had a couple of members who completed the two disciplines back-to-back, some who broke it up and cycled on one day and ran on another and some who did a bit each day. One member even did it whilst in Spain!”

The virtual challenge gave participants a choice of distances to complete between 20 and 26 July. How, where and when they completed it was up to them, giving participants the option to complete it all in one go or break the challenge up over the week, something Hamilton said helped make it accessible to all.

“Everyone had their own personal goal in achieving their distance,” Hamilton commented. “This way of doing an event helped so many people to get involved.

“The challenge, like virtual training that’s been going on throughout lockdown, has helped people who are new to the sport, like myself, to enjoy the support of others whilst building their cycling and running base on their own.

“The flexibility to do it your own way really opened it up to people. I took on the standard distance challenge, something I wouldn’t have done at an actual event because I wouldn’t have known if I’d get around the full course.”

With the exception of a married couple, the club members completed their challenges individually, however, were able to encourage one another throughout the week to keep going and achieve their goal of finishing the challenge.

“With it being spread across a week, it meant people were continually supporting each other to complete it,” Hamilton added. “We’ve all got used to communicating online now, so were able to stay in touch and see how each other were getting on.

“The task was to complete the challenge, not do it in a specific way, and to have the community feel of the club spurring us on to achieve the distance was really encouraging, especially when it got tough.”

The club have been organising online sessions throughout lockdown to keep members active and connected, with the virtual challenge supporting that and going hand-in-hand with the club’s activities.

“Mentally it’s helped because we’ve had something to aim for and been able to come together,” commented Hamilton.

“The challenge has focussed our training towards it like we would for an event, whilst also providing the positive benefit of being able to step outside our comfort zone and make it to the end.

“It’s been such an inclusive event because it didn’t have to be done in one hit. It’s enabled more people to get involved and push themselves to do something they otherwise wouldn’t have thought of doing, bringing such a diverse group of people to take part.”

Over 5,500 participants registered for the event, raising a total of £10,290 for Leeds Cares, the charity for Leeds Teaching Hospitals and Official Charity Partner of AJ Bell World Triathlon Leeds.

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