The Triathlon Trust, the charitable arm of British Triathlon, has relaunched with the aim to lessen the barriers to participation in the multi-sport events. Triathlon events consist of open water swimming, cycling, and running. At the heart of the initiative will be more community-based programmes. 

The Triathlon Trust initiative will particularly focus on disadvantaged communities that are underrepresented in triathlon. This may be due to a lack of access to training facilities such as swimming pools or safe cycling routes, or a lack of awareness of what the sport involves in some sections of society.

There is a widespread belief that triathlon is an expensive sport, and that there is a need to have the latest high-end equipment to take part. Participating in triathlon races can be costly when you take into account entry fees, equipment such as wetsuits, running shoes and bikes, and travel expenses.

However, there are plenty of small-scale local events that are much cheaper than the more high-profile races to enter. They cater for age ranges and abilities, and do not require the most expensive equipment to take part. In fact, it’s possible to source second-hand gear or buy less well-known brands that are more affordable.

Any type of roadworthy bike can be used to take part in the cycle stage, for example: it doesn’t have to be a top of the range model. For the swim stage, it’s recommended to wear a wetsuit for insulation and buoyancy and goggles to protect the eyes, but the only compulsory piece of kit is usually a swimming cap, which are often provided at events.

For the running stage, any suitable light clothing and well-fitting pair of trainers will do. Therefore, the barriers to entry for triathlon are often much lower than people realise. Furthermore, it’s possible to pursue the key components of the sport; swimming, cycling and running as an athletic discipline or hobby without taking part in formal competitions.

For example, the open water swimming community has a reputation for being welcoming and inclusive, and there are many clubs and organisations around the country that do not have high membership fees, and some are even free. These clubs often take pride in supporting a diverse range of members, regardless of background or experience level.

Running and cycling can be largely self-taught activities and can be carried out anywhere that is safe. It’s advisable for people who have never swum before to have some lessons in a pool before venturing out into open water. However, once a certain level of competence is reached, it’s possible to swim for free in lakes, rivers, or the sea.

In recent years, there have been initiatives and programmes to encourage a wider participation in triathlons, such as equipment lending schemes and free coaching. The latest announcement by the Triathlon Trust of its intention to lower barriers to entry will build on this ethos, and hopefully help more people to enjoy the benefits and rewards of the sport.

Gary Adey, Chair of the Triathlon Trust said: “I am really pleased to be leading a board who are deeply passionate about inclusion and participation in sport and physical activity and are looking for new, sustainable ways to fundraise and reduce the barriers to learning new skills and staying active.”

Laura Steadman, who has been a Trust Ambassador since 2019, said: 

“I am thrilled to continue my ambassador role with the Triathlon Trust and can’t wait to get stuck in supporting the Trust with fundraising, raising awareness about the importance of active lifestyles and breaking down barriers to participation. Triathlon has given me so much and I love that I get to share my passion and give back.”

Gary added: “As we embark on the next chapter of this exciting journey, we are gearing up for a successful fundraising year. We believe that with the support of our community, partners, and sponsors, we can make a significant difference in people’s lives.”

“Our fundraising efforts will be crucial in sustaining and expanding our programmes, ensuring that more children, young people and families can experience the joy and benefits of swim, bike, run and triathlon.”

Triathlon not only builds excellent physical fitness, but it can also improve mental health, self-esteem and confidence, and help people to feel part of a community.

Sarah A