YEP triathlon challenge: ‘I conquered a milestone – buying trunks’

Picture by James Hardisty.
Picture by James Hardisty.
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I haven’t worn a pair of swimming trunks since I was about five.

But as I conquered yet another milestone on my journey towards taking on my first Olympic distance triathlon, I went to a sports shop last week and quite literally took the plunge.

I figured they might make it ever so slightly easier for me, mentally at least, to glide through the water during my swimming training – and to some extent it’s worked.

As I mentioned last week, I’ve tried to make swimming my main focus because of my fear of sinking, obvious poor technique and lack of experience in the water.

Weeks on since I realised that a pretty pathetic 75 metres was my untrained distance swimming limit, I’ve massively improved on it – although I should note that it has probably got very little to do with the trunks.

Mainly through regular practice at Leeds leisure centres in between studying Youtube swimming tutorials about technique and breathing, I’ve actually managed to edge towards that magic 1.5km distance.

There is absolutely no doubt that swimming in open water with hundreds of other swimmers will be a completely different and far more disorientating experience but, if my fitness and technique is there, I should at least have a fighting chance of reaching the end of the swim in one piece.

And then there is the not-so-small matter of transitioning to a bike and cycling 41.5km before a 10km run... Why did I sign up to this again?

In terms of the bike, I’ve dusted off my road bike which I had neglected to have fixed for a few weeks and started cycling the 5km daily commute to and from work. I’m pretty comfortable on the bike, it’s probably the part I fear the least.

Running-wise I’ve been out twice in recent weeks, my most recent run being an encouraging 10km done at a purposefully slow pace – I just wanted to know I could do the distance.

YEP reporter Jonny Brown is taking on an Olympic distance triathlon in aid of A Million for Maggie's. Picture by James Hardisty.

YEP reporter Jonny Brown is taking on an Olympic distance triathlon in aid of A Million for Maggie's. Picture by James Hardisty.

Having only ever run 10km twice before – the last being the 2013 Leeds 10k – it felt okay, but at this moment in time I seriously doubt that I could manage that distance after a draining swim and cycle.

In fact I’ve been so worried about being physically able to get through the swim that I’ve yet to sort out a wetsuit and haven’t even thought about ‘transitions’ from swim to bike and bike to run.

That’s where the Go Tri sessions should come in. The race organisers have released the dates, so I’m going to try to get down to at least two pre-race sessions including an open water tutorial.

I better get that wetsuit after all...

The challenge

Hot on the heels of this year’s Tour de Yorkshire, Leeds will take centre stage once more when the ITU World Triathlon Series makes its city debut.

And with the Columbia Threadneedle World Triathlon Leeds now just a few weeks away, a member of the YEP team has bravely volunteered to give it a go.

Hours before the pros take on the Olympic distance event, which includes a 1.5km swim in Roundhay Park, a 41.5km bike ride from Roundhay to the city centre and a 10km run around the streets of Leeds, around 5,000 brave amateurs will do the same course.

Our lead triathlon correspondent Jonny Brown has agreed to take up the challenge while raising funds for the A Million for Maggie’s campaign – a £1million fundraiser to help build a new Maggie’s cancer support centre at Leeds St James’s Hospital.

With the help of expert advice, online swimming tutorials, Go Tri sessions and months of training aided by a Bodyline Premier membership to Leeds City Council leisure centres, Jonny is hoping to show that anyone can take up triathlon.

We will be publishing regular updates on his progress up until race day on Sunday June 12. You can also track his progress on Twitter at @JonnyBrownYEP and by searching ‘triathlon’ at

To donate and to find out why he feels so strongly about raising funds for Maggie’s visit