More than 130 people took on the challenge posed by a charity’s annual RAF Halton Triathlon and Duathlon on Sunday 31 July. Raising funds for Rennie Grove Hospice Care, the event attracted seasoned triathletes and some first-timers with its three race options. Around 65 people chose the Mini Olympic distance comprising a 600m swim, 34.5km cycle and 5km run, with 45 participants opting for the Super Sprint involving a 300m swim, 23km cycle and 5km run, whilst 24 runners and cyclists signed up to the brand new Duathlon option for 2016 which featured a 5km run, 23km cycle and another 5km run.
Diane Weaver from Bledlow has taken part in five Rennie Grove RAF Triathlon events, switching up from Super Sprint to Mini Olympic when the charity introduced the longer distance a couple of years ago. She said: “I like this event because it’s local and I really like the cause. I’ve done a few fundraising bits for them as well as their annual Triathlon. I’m training to swim the channel next year and I’ll raise sponsorship for Rennie Grove then too.”
Husband and wife team David Wells and Hilary Westall from Chinnor started doing Triathlons together 10 years ago after meeting in Racquets gym in Thame. Hilary was the first woman home in last year’s Super Sprint distance and this year took on the Mini Olympic. David stepped up to the longer distance last year and took part in his third Rennie Grove RAF Halton Triathlon this year. “It’s a lovely event,” he said. “It has a really friendly, easy-going feel.”
Princes Risborough resident Tarek Maani trains with Stoke Mandeville Tri Club and has done 10 or 11 Olympic distance and sprint triathlons, despite only starting the sport quite recently. “Now I’m addicted – I’ve caught the bug!” he said. He returned to the Rennie Grove RAF Halton Triathlon for the second year running to take on the Mini Olympic distance. He finds swimming the hardest discipline, but having done several open water swims, including a river swim in the Windsor Triathlon, he admitted that 20 lengths of the RAF’s pool felt far easier than swimming against the Thames’ currents!
Matt Hinge from Aylesbury was also returning for a second time. He said: “I preferred the course this year, although I still don’t really ‘like’ running so for me the hills were hard on foot. I really like the fact the different events overlapped so cyclists were cheering runners on and vice versa.”
Emma Redding, from Shabbington, cheered on by son, Oscar, took on the Mini Olympic distance in memory of her mum, Sue Walker, who was cared for by Rennie Grove's nurses. To date the family have raised more than £20,000 for Rennie Grove in Sue's memory as part of a Forever Loved Fund that they set up online.
Harriet Moxham and Laura Flexney, who are based at RAF High Wycombe, were taking on their first ever duathlon and were delighted it was a new addition to the Rennie Grove RAF Halton offering this year. Duathlon winner, Melanie Wilkins, travelled down from Winchester to take part and crossed the line in 1 hour 20 minutes 34 seconds. She was followed around two minutes later by first placed male, David Iliffe from Thame.
Vivienne Pountney from Naphill was first placed female in the Super Sprint Triathlon in a time of 1 hour 19 minutes 38 seconds. Viv has been taking part in triathlons for 25 years – although this was her first time at the RAF Halton event for Rennie Grove and her first attempt at the specific arrangement of distances offered by the Super Sprint option. Viv said: “This is my last year of competing. Even after 25 years I still get too nervous!”
First man home in the Super Sprint Triathlon was Matt Hamilton from Hemel Hempstead, who finished in 1 hour 1 minute 46 seconds. His counterpart over the Mini Olympic distance was Aylesbury man, Jesus Gonzalez Tejeria, who crossed the line in 1 hour 22 minutes 47 seconds, followed by first female home, Heather Golla from Princes Risborough, in 1 hour 35 minutes 37 seconds.
Gillian Barnett, Director of Fundraising and Marketing for Rennie Grove said: “We’re so grateful to everyone involved for making this event a success. RAF Sgt Kristian Harrison MBE and his team have done sterling work so our sincere thanks go to them and RAF Halton for hosting this popular event once again. Thank you to our sponsors too: Budgens in Wendover for providing bananas for participants; Ashmei for donating prizes including a £30 gift voucher to spend on its new season range online or in-store; Grant & Stone for providing a large banner plus cable ties and hazard tape for all our events; Otech Bikes for offering technical support on the day and Stoke Mandeville Tri Club for their help promoting the event and offering training sessions to participants. And last but by no means least – our amazing volunteer marshals who man the route uncomplainingly whatever the weather to ensure our participants can find their way.”
Rennie Grove hopes the RAF Triathlon and Duathlon will bring in £20,000 towards its specialist nursing service for patients with life-limiting illness. The charity’s next event in the fundraising calendar is its Chilterns 3 Peaks Challenge on Sunday 4 September. Visit www.renniegrove.org/chilterns3peaks for details and to sign up.