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Triathlon - Claire's Story

With the news that Llandudno is vying for a major triathlon event in the summer of 2009 (click),  here is a story of how one competitor became involved in a sport which is not widely understood by many 

Claire Sutcliffe from Chester believes that in physical fitness, variety is the spice of life. Or more precisely swimming, running and cycling. Always up for a challenge, she first became interested in competing in these disciplines in 2005 when she joined Chester Triathlon Club. At first daunted by not having swum since her school days twenty years before, her coach soon sorted out her 'windmill arms' style, and regular squad sessions at Chester City baths improved her stamina.

Claire Sutcliffe riding her bike

Running sessions and cycle rides with the club followed, and her first race was Chirk Sprint Triathlon organised by Wrecsam Tri Club in April 2006. Claire found it fantastic. She had well and truly caught the triathlon bug!

Sprint races that summer included the Cleveland Short Course that was her first lake swim in a wet suit. This was followed by the Deva Divas women-only novice triathlon at Manley Mere organised annually by Chester Triathlon Club. She finished the season by entering Bala Olympic in September. This she found an incredible experience - much harder than the shorter sprint distance races, but the stunning scenery helped her through the tough bits.

That was the end of her first season of racing, and she was looking forward to commencing winter training when she and her partner Steve had the wonderful news that she was expecting a baby the following summer. Her training was scaled down to a more sedate level, and Finley was born on the 6th of July 2007. Claire spent that summer taking Finley on long walks building up her fitness levels with the goal of the  Helsby Half Marathon in January 2008. The new path around the Chester race course proved the perfect route for buggy runs.

With her bike on a roof rack, Claire gets in her car to go to train

Claire then booked herself on an Ante and Post Natal fitness training course with the aim of setting up a Mums' "baby and buggy" outdoor fitness club. She now runs this twice a week in Chester. She finds it a great way for new mums to be able to work on getting back into shape after having their babies without the worry of leaving their little ones in a crèche. The babies love being outdoors and are fascinated when they see all the mums lined up doing squats and arm exercises.

Claire started the 2008 season with the Helsby half-marathon carried out at a slow pace. She has since competed again at Chirk followed by the Royles Chester Olympic race and Boundary Breeze organised by Manchester Triathlon club in early July. Bala is to follow in September, and then the Helly Hansen Adventure Challenge at Cannock, which will add a spot of kayaking, something Claire has never attempted before.

She recommends Triathlon to anyone who likes a challenge. Joining a local club is the best way to start - and there are so many stunning places to cycle, run and swim in North Wales.



Photo of Claire with her young son