Local Sports Focus: All-inclusive approach guaranteed by tri' club
When it comes to swimming, cycling and running for miles and miles, Leeds Bradford Triathlon Club certainly know what they're doing.
With hundreds of members, the club is jam-packed with training every day of the week, bringing in all sorts of people to test their mettle in the sport.
“The club itself is one of the longest running in the UK,” says communications officer, Neil Holloway.
“We’ve actually won UK club of the year on several consecutive occasions now and we’ve also been running our own triathlon race for 25 consecutive years.”
Often doing just one of the three sports that make up triathlon is tough in itself, therefore an entire triathlon is very often a hugely daunting prospect for anyone ‘on the outside’.
But while the sport does require some dedication to take up, Neil claims that there is a common “misconception” around the sport when it comes to how hard it is.
“People often think it’s an elite sport for elite athletes,” says Neil.
“They think people at the club are always training every day of the week but that’s simply not the case.
“If you came down to one of our sessions you’d see all shapes, all sizes, all sexes and all ages.
“We’ve even got a gentleman who’s in his eighties and he’s training for an ironman (long distance triathlon) despite only taking up triathlon three years ago.
“So there’s all different types of people that we cater for and if you want to train for a triathlon then a club is the best place to do it; you’ll get so much help and support from members who are always happy to help out.
“We also like to use social media a lot, maybe post pictures of some members mid-race to sort of ‘take the mick’ so there’s a great club spirit as well.”
Despite this the sport is still perceived by many as one of life’s big physical challenges rather than a sustainable hobby.
While the club often do attract plenty of members that get stuck right in, a lot of them also do not tend to stick around for too long.
“We’ve started to see quite a few people who join for a year,” says Neil, “but it’s like a ‘tick box’ thing for them, so they’ll do triathlon one year then they might do a tough mudder the next year and then probably a marathon after that.
“But even then the sport still gets a lot of different people in because it’s actually very varied.
“You’ll have sprint triathlons and then double ironmans sometimes.
“It’s a lot like athletics in that sense. Usain Bolt would never enter a marathon and Mo Farah would never run a 100m race and it’s the same in triathlon.
“You’ll get some who specialise in certain distances.”
Certainly since the rise of the Leeds’ own famous Brownlee brothers – Jonny and Alistair – the sport has experienced a significant boost in popularity.
This has also been noticeable at the club, with the regular International Triathlon Union (ITU) World Series meeting in Leeds having a hugely positive impact on the club since it was introduced in 2016.
“We’ve definitely noticed a boost in members,” confirmed Neil.
“We always have a lot of our members going down to compete there and then also go down to support and follow all the pros in town.
“So it’s just a great weekend of celebration for the sport really and we just hope that it continues for the next few years.”
Certainly completing a triathlon is far from an easy task, but with clubs like LBT around, stepping into the world of triathlon could start to seem a little less daunting.
Club: Leeds and Bradford Triathlon Club.
Season Highlights: Yorkshire Club of the Year 2017, Multiple Winner of UK Triathlon Club of the Year; Winners of 2018 Yorkshire Interclub Championships; Organisers of the 2017 Children’s Race of the Year – the Junior Aquathlon.
Number of members: 695.
Training nights: multiple sessions running Sunday–Friday.