World cross duathlon debut marks start of World Triathlon Multisport Championships

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The World Triathlon Multisport Championships get underway on Monday (6 June), marking the start of a week-long swim, bike, run festival in Targu Mures, Romania, where world titles and medals will be decided in cross duathlon, cross triathlon and both sprint and standard distance duathlon.

Over 250 athletes will travel to Romania to represent the Great Britain Age-Group Team, while there will be British representation in the elite and U23 races across the week.

The week of racing gets underway on Monday (6 June) when cross duathlon makes it debut at the World Triathlon Multisport Championships, followed by cross triathlon on Wednesday (8 June), standard duathlon on Friday (10 June) and sprint duathlon on Sunday 12 June for age group athletes.

It will be a busy week for some athletes who will compete in more than one - including Richard Hardy, who is hoping to compete in all four races in the male 65-69 age group.

“I think it will be a massive challenge,” Hardy said. “Even more so having done a practice lap of the cross duathlon course. As a build up to this week I have tried to do something every day whether it be swimming, running or biking. I have also tried to do at least one competitive event each week for the last couple of months.

“That might be a park run, or local 10k. The cycling 10 mile evening TT's have started so been doing those and I did the European and World middle distance duathlons.

“Every time I pull on my GB trisuit, I still feel so proud. The other team members are all so nice, helpful and inspirational, as are all the team managers and helpers. It really feels like one big family. The events have now become a focus for our holidays and my wife attends most of them. We always hire a car and explore the areas we visit.”

Since 2015, Hardy has represented the GB Age-Group Team more than 20 times including winning European cross duathlon gold in his age group when Targu Mures hosted the European Championships in 2016.

Fast forward, six years and Targu Mures will be hosting the first ever world championships in cross duathlon, kickstarting the week of multisport.

“My favourite event is the cross duathlon having fallen in love with cross country running at school and still doing the local leagues every winter,” Hardy commented. “I would have come to Targu Mures just for that. I took up cross triathlon a couple of years ago. I have never been able to swim properly, but up until now I saw little chance of getting a world medal at the other duathlon disciplines, and there was no world cross duathlon.

“I have therefore been trying hard to swim better although it is still quite weak. I probably would not have entered the cross triathlon but having won a bronze medal last year, I thought I should try again. Of course, things have changed this year with the first world cross duathlon race on Monday.

“I have very fond memories of Targu Mures. I came here in 2016 for the cross duathlon. For me the race was the greatest moment in my life except for family events. The course for over 60s was slightly shortened from all the other age groups. Not only did I win my age group but was the first athlete of any age to cross the line.

“It was an incredible experience to see the winning tape ahead of me and to cross first with the cheers from all the spectators. It was the first race in my life that I had won. I appeared in the local newspaper and on their local TV. I am sure many thought I really had won the whole race. So, as you can imagine I really look forward to coming back.”

As well as the GB Age-Group Team competing in Romania, there will also be British representation across the week in the elite, U23 and junior races.

World U23 cross triathlon silver medallist Frederick Webb will double up in the U23 cross duathlon and cross triathlon events and junior athlete Isla Hedley will compete in cross triathlon.

Liam Lloyd, Philip Wylie, Adam Baker and Hugo Milner will line-up in the elite men’s duathlon on Friday, as will Simon Davis as the sole British representative in the U23 age group.

Claudia Kelsall and Nicole Allan have both had medal success in Targu Mures before and will return later this week for the women’s elite race.

Coverage of the elite, U23 and junior races will be available to watch live on TriathlonLIVE.tv.

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