Famous for being a testing off-road triathlon that pushes its participants to their limits, the Helvellyn Triathlon threw up tough terrain and punishing weather. However, Alistair Brownlee and Nikki Bartlett battled on to be crowned the first men and women across the finish line.
Alistair Brownlee was clearly eager to return to triathlon activity after a long period away due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The two-time Olympic gold medallist took 9th place at the 2020 Hamburg Wasser World Triathlon Series race on Saturday before returning to England to test himself in the Lake District the following day.
Brownlee and Bartlett were joined by a number of British competitors on the course, with George Goodwin, Elliot Smales, Ruth Astle, India Lee, Lucy Hall, Joe Skipper, Will Clarke and Lucy Gossage being just a few familiar names that travelled to Cumbria.
With the women setting off before the men, it was Lucy Hall who left the 1,500m swim ahead of her competition, closely followed by both Lee and Bartlett. After a tough cycle, including the infamous “Struggle” to the top of the Kirkstone Pass, Bartlett had passed Lee, however, was still chasing Hall at the front as she approached T2.
After the men’s staggered start, Brownlee burst out of the water first with Skipper and Clarke in pursuit. Brownlee maintained his strong start, remaining resilient throughout the cycle and entering the second transition in the lead, closely followed by Goodwin.
As the athletes reached the top of Helvellyn, temperatures dropped to zero and the race lived up to its punishing reputation. Despite this, Brownlee pushed through and crossed the line in 03:16:28 to secure the win. Following Brownlee across the line was Jack Willis and George Goodwin who finished 3rd and 2nd respectively once finishing times had been adjusted.
After completing the cycle in 01:48:51, Bartlett was a in a strong position going into the run and didn’t hold back. She recorded the fastest run of the women’s race (01:33:23) and jumped over the finish line to celebrate being the first female to finish with an overall time of 03:23:02.
Ruth Astle and India Lee crossed the line in 2nd and 3rd respectively, whilst Lucy Hall finished in 4th place.
Following the race, Bartlett said, “It was epic, brutal and the conditions were extreme. It was zero degrees at the top of the climb, with 15 metres of visibility and torrential rain which just made it all the more memorable.
“Rob, the event organiser did a fantastic job to put on this race in accordance with Covid guidelines, so massive hats off to him, the volunteers and the marshals. It’s a bucket list race. I loved it, I’m buzzing and it’s a course that I think everyone should do.”
This marked a successful weekend for British athletes with not only impressive performances on home soil, but medals being won in Germany on Saturday in both individual races and mixed team relay.
Photo Credit: TriHard Events