Top triathletes triumph in world’s toughest race

Strenuous and physically demanding, attracting the elite from across the globe and it comes with picturesque scenery – Triathlon X is a truly a remarkable sporting event. JAMES MADDEN reports


 Nearly 150 triathletes from around the globe gathered in Ambleside in the Lake District to take part in Triathlon X.

Andrew Drobeck from Montana, USA, was the first to the finish line, in what is deemed by many the most challenging sporting event of its kind.

The event started at 4.30am with a two mile swim across Windermere from Waterhead to Seamew Crag Island and back –  twice. Competitors then took to their bikes to complete a 112 mile ride on the Fred Whitton route over all the Lakeland passes. The triathletes completed the arduous challenge with a 26 mile run to the top of Scafell Pike and back.

Drobeck, who is a fireman and a professional triathlete, finished the race in a staggering 12 hours 38 minutes, on what was his first ever trip to the UK. The 34-year-old said after the race: “It’s way tougher than anything I’ve ever done back in the States. It was the sheer steepness of the various gradients which were the ultimate test.”

drobeck with rupert

Winner Andy Drobeck with one of the race sponsors, Rupert Bonington from Real Mountain Fuel

The American, who described the course “as good as you could have hoped for”, finished over an hour ahead of the pack and received a cheque of £1000 from sponsors Lakeland UK for his comprehensive victory. Gareth Huxley, Darren Jones, Stan Gruncell and Ian Fothergill were the others to finish in the top five.

Daisy Baggs, a member of the Newcastle Triathlon Team, was the first lady home. Holiday cottage company, Heart of the Lakes, presented a further £1000 for her first prize.

daisy baggs

Daisy Baggs: first woman

Peter Jackson, who owns the business with his wife Sue, said of Baggs’s achievement: “Daisy is a worthy winner. It’s an incredibly tough event, but it’s something we are more than happy to be a part of, as it supports valuable, charitable causes.” A percentage of all the entries was donated to the YHA bursary fund for disadvantaged children, Breaks for Kids.

As well as individuals venturing from different parts of the world, there were notable local participants who were raising money for good causes. Dr Paul Davies, who is a GP in Ambleside, completed the race to raise funds for St Mary’s Hospice.

Ambleside fitness instructor, Ursula Brendling, who did her preparation alongside Davies, took part in her first ever triathlon to celebrate her 50th birthday. Although Brendling didn’t manage to complete the last eight miles of the race due to timing restrictions, her effort was thoroughly commendable in what is a gruelling, physical challenge.

There were prizes and merchandise donated from Hawkshead Relish, and competitors’ goody-bags with items from Willow Water, Romneys Kendal Mint Cake, Blue Seventy wetsuits and Mountain Fuel.

Triathletes paid tribute to the organisers, and race director Mark Blackburn said: “It was a great day and well done to everyone who took part. Our winner, who has raced all over the world, said it was the toughest thing he’s done. Finally, a special thank you to our amazing helpers and everyone who came to support the event.”

Photos by STEVE ASHWORTH,  Lake District Images


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