Apology issued by Leeds triathlon organisers after complaints flood in

Cyclists pass through the transition area at Millenium Square in the ITU World Triathlon Leeds. Pictures: Tony Johnson.

Cyclists pass through the transition area at Millenium Square in the ITU World Triathlon Leeds. Pictures: Tony Johnson.

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Amateur triathletes have complained over issues with bag returns after the Columbia Threadneedle World Triathlon – sparking an apology from organisers.

Some participants claim they were made to wait for up to seven hours for their bags, which contained their dry clothes, keys, money and phone.

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Participant Jim Phelan said: “The race was great but the organisation was appalling.

“I was left to queue for my bag containing my clothes, money, phone and car keys for four hours wearing only my trisuit in the cold city centre.

“After three hours I started to shiver and luckily another spectator recognised I was becoming hypothermic and alerted one of the volunteers who assisted me.

“It was seven hours before I got my bag back.

Alistair Brownlee crosses the line to win the gold medal in the elite men's race, which was held after the amateur race. Pic: Tony Johnson.

Alistair Brownlee crosses the line to win the gold medal in the elite men's race, which was held after the amateur race. Pic: Tony Johnson.

“I then had to cycle back to Roundhay Park and drive back to London.

“I have participated in triathlons all over the world and have represented Great Britain as an age grouper in World Championships as well as supporting my local triathlon race events, and I have never seen anything as poorly co-ordinated.

“The conversation amongst the angry triathletes who were queueing with me was that this was one event they would never do again and I fully echo that sentiment.

“Needless to say, I won’t be back next year!”

Ben Thompson finished the triathlon at around 10.30am and claims he only received his bag at 2.30pm – just minutes before he had to catch his train home.

He said: “Absolutely great course – ruined by the bag collection at the end.

“It was bedlam – about 20 to 30 people deep!

“My partner in the meantime was obviously waiting with no idea of what was going on.

“It was chaos.

“There was no information coming through.

“People had no money, keys or phones to tell friends and families of the situation.”

Another participant, Claire Stammers, said there were also issues with signage and route information.

She said: “Leeds is kidding itself if it thinks the mere amateurs will be back.

“The Leeds fiasco is now a legend amongst triathletes.

“The elites may come back but without us, who will pay for that?”

She added: “I will be joining the hordes of athletes trying to obtain a refund.”

British Triathlon chief executive Jack Buckner issued an apology to participants after complaints flooded in.

The statement on the British Triathlon website said: “Our ambition was to make this a really amazing event but it’s clear we have disappointed some people.

“I want to apologise to Sunday’s competitors who we let down through the mismanagement of the bag returns and I would like to thank everyone for their patience in collecting their bags at both the city centre and Roundhay Park.

“An event of this scale did not come without its challenges.”

He added: “The athlete survey is being shared next week and I want you to tell us what you think. This will help us create the best experience we can at this event in the future.”

Hundreds of people responded to the apology on social media.

Stephen Hughes said on Facebook: “This is outrageous [...] You left people stranded with no cash and no clothes.”

Ian Smith said: “I really feel the apology falls short of the mark. While some aspects were good, sadly there were lots that weren’t!”

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