Hundreds of triathletes came together at RAF Halton near Wendover on Sunday 3 May to challenge themselves and raise money for Rennie Grove Hospice Care at the RAF Halton Sprint Triathlon. 250 people took part, 50 taking on the longer Mini Olympic distance which was included in the event for the first time. So far they have raised over £14,000 to help fund the care Rennie Grove provides for local people with cancer and other life-limiting illness.
All participants started off in the pool swimming either 300m for Super Sprint or 600m for Mini Olympic, before taking to two wheels and embarking on a 20km cycle for Super Sprint or 30km for Mini Olympic. The final challenge for all the athletes was a 6.5km run.
Certificates were awarded to the fastest male and female in each of the two distances, with prizes kindly donated by performance sportswear company, Ashmei. Craig Howells from Wendover recorded the fastest time in the Mini Olympic, crossing the finishing line in just 1 hour 28 minutes and 57 seconds. The fastest female in the Mini Olympic was Bethany Kington from Aylesbury who completed the course in one hour 53 minutes and 59 seconds. First home for the men in the Super Sprint was Craig Fines-Allin from Wendover in one hour 8 minutes and 11 seconds and Hilary Westall from Chinnor was the fastest lady in one hour 22 minutes and 38 seconds. They were presented with their prizes by Group Captain Adrian Burns MSc MA BA RAF, the Station Commander at RAF Halton.
In addition to experienced triathletes, many of those taking part were tackling a triathlon for the first time, some as part of a team who split the challenge and completed either the swim, ride or run individually.
Eight members of the Archer family travelled from all over the country to take part, six of them in two teams of three and two individually. Together they raised over £1,300. Gary Archer organised the event for the family and although not living locally now, he used to be stationed at RAF Halton and likes to keep in touch with local activities.
A book club in Cheddington also entered two teams and two individuals into the event with the keener athletes among them encouraging the others to join in. The members of one team, Liz Dove (cycle), Lesley Youren (run) and Kathryn Ainsworth (swim) said at the end:
“It was really good fun and so friendly. There was a great team spirit among all the competitors with everyone cheering each other on. We certainly wouldn’t have done it and had this wonderful experience if it hadn’t been for the team option.”
Lesley Brookman who lives near Maidenhead took part in the event on what would have been her mother’s 80th birthday. Feeling a little emotional as she crossed the finish line, she said:
“Rennie Grove nursed my mother at her home in Bourne End, Bucks making it possible for her to stay at home until the end which was last August. The charity was also involved in my Dad’s care a few years ago so when I saw that this event was on what would have been Mum’s birthday, it seemed like a perfect opportunity to remember Mum on a special day and do something good for Rennie Grove.”
Lesley has raised £1,100 in sponsorship.
Annie Januszewski from Beaconsfield climbed Mount Kilimanjaro raising money for Rennie Grove earlier this year and decided to follow up this feat by taking part in her first triathlon. She said:
“The Rennie Grove nurses looked after my Mum and my Dad and these events are a great way to say thank you for everything they did. I also find it a motivation to keep going when the going gets tough – it makes me carry on.”
Claire and Mike Redrup and Kate Hughes, all from High Wycombe, were also tempted to sign up for their first triathlons to say thank you for the care provided by Rennie Grove for Claire’s mum while Daniel Stevens from Aylesbury took part for the second time. He told us at the start:
“The Rennie Grove nurses gave my Dad dignity and respect and helped make sure that he was able to see out his last days at his home in Hemel Hempstead. I know this is a good event – it is well laid out and organised and I’m looking forward to doing it.”
Although not having a direct connection with the charity, the attraction of doing something for a good cause was a motivating factor in the decision to sign up for Sean Robinson from Fairford Leys and Mark Bennett from Wing. Sean then also encouraged his sister Louise and her husband James Carrigan to take part. Sean said:
“This was a first triathlon for us all and it’s been a really friendly event. It’s been good to be able to challenge ourselves physically, to have something to aim for and to do something for charity.”
Amanda Hutcherson from Aylesbury has become something of a triathlon expert after choosing the RAF Halton Sprint Triathlon as her first event two years ago. She is now a member of the thriving Stoke Mandeville Triathlon Club and completed six triathlons last year.
Amanda was one of a large number of members from the Stoke Mandeville Tri Club who took part. Stoke Mandeville Tri Club is organised by Louise and David Brown and the Club also showed their support for the RAF Halton Sprint Triathlon by running some pre-event training sessions, including a ride the route session, for all those who had registered for the event.
The Another local Triathlon club that was well represented was the Bearbrook Triathlon Club based in Aylesbury, who entered around 25 people, quite a few of whom were taking part in their first triathlon. The Club, which has only been in existence for about a year, is proud that one of its members, Craig Fines-Allin, was the fastest male in the Super Sprint distance.
Gillian Barnett, Director of Fundraising and Marketing at Rennie Grove Hospice Care said:
“We would like to thank everyone who helped make the RAF Halton Sprint Triathlon such a success. Special thanks go to Station Commander at RAF Halton, Group Captain Burns, for granting us kind permission to use the facilities and to the team of RAF personnel led by Sgt Kristian Harrison and Doug Freeman who ran the event on the day. Thank you also to all the fantastic Rennie Grove volunteers who braved the wet weather conditions at the start of the day to marshal the cycle and run routes and cheer participants along the way.
“And our final big thank you goes to all the participants for their friendly camaraderie which created such a great atmosphere throughout the event and for their fundraising efforts. With more than £14,000 already raised, the event is well on its way to funding a hospice at home nurse for six months, providing vital care for local patients and families.”
Anyone inspired by these triathlon triumphs to take on a challenge of their own, might like to sign up for one of the charity’s next two fundraising events, the Ashridge Trail Half Marathon on Sunday 7 June or the new Hemel 10K on Sunday 12 July. Please see our active events for further information.