Businesses in the Lake District have stepped forward to support the world’s toughest iron-distance triathlon, and help a children’s charity at the same time.
The X, to be staged next year at Windermere, is being hosted by Ambleside YHA and a percentage from every entry fee 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.
In a bid to encourage maximum entries, local companies have offered tantalising prizes. Lakeland UK, the leading homeware company which is based at Windermere, is offering a prize of £1000 to the first man to finish, and matching that, the holiday cottage rentals company, Heart of the Lakes have put up the same amount as a prize for the women’s winner.
It is the first time that prize money of this level has been offered at an extreme triathlon event, and the move is seen as a massive boost to equality in extreme sport, with entries from around the world already heading towards the 300 tally. Meanwhile, the award-winning Hawkshead Relish company is also sponsoring The X, with hamper prizes for the first men, women and relay teams.
The gruelling race, originally staged at Wasdale this year, will be held next June, with 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.
Partner in the Ambleside-based Heart of the Lakes, the area’s leading self-catering holiday company offering a wide range of cottages, apartments and houses all within the Lake District National Park, 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?”
Peter, Sue and Chris Jackson of Heart of the Lakes
Lakeland UK’s managing director Sam Rayner (pictured below) said: “Triathlon X needed to get off to the best possible start and we were pleased to be the initial sponsor for the event.”
Race director Mark Blackburn said: “We are delighted to have Lakeland UK, Heart of the Lakes and Hawkshead Relish join us and the YHA as sponsors. They are the top names in business in the Lake District and we can see that the prize money on offer is going to attract some of the world’s leading triathletes. It’s also helping us to encourage more entries which will mean more money raised for Breaks for Kids.”
Leading triathlete Marie Meldrum (pictured below) 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 The X 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.
Maria and Mark Whitehead of Hawkshead Relish: hamper prizes will add spice to the occasion