Paul Whitehurst has been a volunteer coach for Morley Triathlon Club and coaches novice triathletes through GO TRI
“GO TRI is where my passion lies, working with the community that would like to give tri a go. We put on sessions that cover running, cycling, swimming and the fourth discipline of triathlon, transition, the part that connects the swim to the bike and the bike to the run,” said Whitehurst.
“The attendees of the sessions which I have been involved with in Leeds have been majority women, which is really, really great to see and encourage.”
Whitehurst was invited to become a GO TRI ambassador in 2019, saying: “I was delighted, receiving my hoodie from the amazing Commonwealth Games silver medallist, and now an Olympic medal contender, Jess Learmonth, a double honour in my opinion.
“My role involves spreading the word about British Triathlon’s grassroots initiative. At the World Triathlon Championship Series in Leeds this year I was stationed in the transition area, offering advice to GO TRI competitors, from setup, what to expect, but most importantly making sure it was an enjoyable experience. This was a record attendance for GO TRI, over 300 entries.”
In the afternoon, Whitehurst switched from GO TRI to head over to the swim pontoon to join the elite paratriathlon racing, saying: “I was a swim exit handler, assisting the paratriathletes out of the water and into their pre-transition area. A thoroughly exhilarating experience, being surrounded by amazing athletes.
“I’d like to thank my employer, Gallagher, for giving me the Friday off work as a volunteer day. This enabled me to complete the swim handling training ahead of race day.”
Whitehurst took up running eight years ago to help with his mental health, living with anxiety and depression for around ten years.
“I do like to challenge my mental health to show that it can’t beat me. I moved to Leeds from my home city of Hull and living in Leeds you soon realise that it really is a triathlon city, not just the Brownlee legacy but very large tri clubs in the area. It was another challenge that soon turned to an addiction,” he said.
“I have to admit that during lockdown I did go dormant as a coach, I think it was more self-preservation, looking after my own mental health. However, I do also volunteer for Triathlon England in Yorkshire, current vice chair [of the regional committee], so that kept me busy, keeping one’s mind active is so important.”
Reflecting on his time as a volunteer, Whitehurst said: “Most sporting events simply couldn’t go ahead without volunteers. There are so many opportunities out there, keep an eye on social media channels for opportunities. You will have so much fun and importantly you will make friends and contacts along the way.”
Volunteers’ Week took place this year from 1-7 June, and UK Coaching Week the week after. Both supported and celebrated the work of volunteers and coaches across the country. To find out more about coaching and volunteering in triathlon click below.