In a massive boost to equality in extreme sport, the first woman to finish TriathlonX in the Lake District will win a prize of £1000 – the same as the men’s prize.
The award will be made thanks to the generosity of sponsorship from the holiday cottage rentals company, Heart of the Lakes.
They are matching the prize money being offered to the first male finisher from Lakeland UK, the leading homeware company which is based at Windermere.
The prizes will be given to the winners next June at the event, the world’s most gruelling extreme iron-distance triathlon.
The gruelling event has already attracted some 200 entries from across the globe. It is the first extreme triathlon to offer a substantial cash prize.
Triathlon X was staged at Wasdale this year but is moving to a more central location next June, starting at Ambleside YHA at the head of Windermere. YHA (England and Wales) is supporting the event, and a percentage of all the entry fees will be donated to the YHA bursary fund Breaks for Kids, creating opportunities for disadvantaged young people to stay with YHA and have new, life-changing experiences.
The event will have steeper ascents than any “ironman” triathlon anywhere in the world. Competitors will swim twice round Seamew Crag island in Windermere, and then cycle all the Lake District passes on the route of the Fred Whitton challenge, some 112 miles. The marathon run of 26 miles will take the athletes out and back to the top of Scafell Pike via Elterwater and Great Langdale.
The total ascent on the cycle and run routes is 5150m, the highest in the world, with a projected winning time of four hours longer than Norway’s Norseman extreme race.
Ambleside-based Heart of the Lakes is the area’s leading self-catering holiday company offering a wide range of cottages, apartments and houses all within the Lake District National Park.
Partner in the company Chris Jackson said: “We are thrilled to be involved in this top sporting event, and we want to make sure that the women who compete have a chance to win the same prize as the men. They are putting in the same effort, over the most gruelling course in the world. Why should the women lose out?”
Chris, whose own sporting interests extend to golf and scuba diving, added: “It will be amazing to see all these top athletes here in the heart of the Lakes.”
Race director Mark Blackburn said: “We are delighted to have Heart of the Lakes join us as a leading sponsor. When Lakeland UK made came up with their prize money, they hoped it would be a “seed corn” effort and we are thrilled that other local companies are now joining us. We believe that the prize money on offer is going to attract some of the world’s leading triathletes.”
The award-winning Hawkshead Relish company is also sponsoring TriathlonX, with hamper prizes for the first men, women and relay teams.
Mr Blackburn said: “It is marvellous that we have some of the area’s top companies helping us to encourage more entries which will mean more money raised for Breaks for Kids.”
Leading triathlete Marie Meldrum (pictured here) from Lochaber in Scotland, female winner of the 2014 Celtman event said: “It is really encouraging to see women and men being offered the same prize money. I’ve noticed recently that women have started to get more prominence in media coverage of these events. Women might not be as fast as the leading men, but they are covering the same distances.”
The race will be staged on Saturday June 25. One local athlete, fitness instructor Ursula Brendling, from Ambleside, has decided to tackle the X as her very first triathlon, to mark her 50th birthday next summer. She is being sponsored to raise more money for Breaks for Kids.
Richard Greenwood, Cumbria Tourism’s head of operations, said: “As the UK’s Adventure Capital the Lake District, Cumbria has an adrenaline fuelled calendar of outdoor challenge events every year and this event is no exception. There are plenty of events for the first time competitor, and others for more experienced athletes that require total endurance and dedication.
“Hosting TriathlonX on Windermere will allow even more people to access this high level event and allow them to come and embrace their adventurous side here in the Lake District.”
The organisers are also moving the half-ironman triathlon to Windermere next year and that will be staged on Sunday September 25.