Past and present British Triathlon royalty adorned the race circuit and sidelines today as Human Race Event’s Windsor Triathlon celebrated its 25th edition. Aptly, a stalwart of the UK tri scene for much of Windsor’s existence, 2012 Olympian Stuart Hayes, was crowned the 25th men’s winner, with Sarah Lewis taking home the women’s title.
The debut Windsor Triathlon kicked-off in June 1991 as part of the 220 Triathlon Series and, 24 years later, its inaugural (and six-time) winner Spencer Smith was hollering support to athletes on the infamous Castle Climb. Whereas that debut race – organised by John Lunt and Jasmine Flatters, who were in attendance today – attracted 250 athletes via postal, fax and phone entries, the sell-out scenes today saw nearly 3,000 triathletes take to the Thames waters in front of Windsor Leisure Centre, a return to that debut race’s swim location.
The first of the 28 waves kicked-off at 6am with the men’s sprint (47 and above), with the Olympic-distance waves starting 20mins later, leading up to the final ‘Race with the Stars’ sub 2:30hr wave at 8:40am consisting of Windsor legends (Stu Hayes and Richard Stannard), elite athletes (Dan Halksworth) and top age-groupers.
As has been the case longer than we can count at Windsor, local boy Stannard led out the 1.5km swim, with non-drafting specialist Hayes in close pursuit. Bike powerhouse Hayes was soon in front on the 40km non-drafting bike leg, which like the swim and run legs featured some modifications for 2015, and held his lead into T2 after the day’s best bike split.
Onto the 10km run, and in increasingly cold and damp conditions, Hayes didn’t lose much of his 90-seconds advantage as his climbed the famous Windsor High Street run three-times – a rite of passage for British triathletes for 24 years – in front of Windsor Castle, where Queenie was staying due to the Magna Carta regatta taking place later that day. Hayes’ old Thames Turbo mucker, Spencer Smith, was busy dispensing support on the climb to countless appreciative athletes, and was evidently still in thrall to the iconic Windsor experience some 25 editions after he broke the inaugural tape.
Hayes entered the Barry Avenue finish line with an 90sec advantage over Jersey’s long-course specialist Dan Halksworth and crossed the line in 1:56:22 ahead of Halksworth and Stannard (M30-34 age-grouper Andy Hamilton, however, produced the day’s third-fastest Olympic time).
The women’s race saw Sarah Lewis join Brit greats Liz Blatchford, Julie Dibens, Helen Jenkins and Jodie Stimpson as a Windsor winner, with Anna-Sykes Brown and Louise Croxton following Lewis home.
The fastest sprint times of the day were Marianne Clark (1:27:26 in the F50-54 category) and Patrick Tierny (1:17:50 in M-35-39), with David Candy – a veteran of that debut race – topping the M50-54 age-group (1:25:32) and placing 12th overall.
On what we reckon is the biggest day in UK tri history in terms of participation, Windsor’s enduring mix of age-group and elite action, scenery and heritage proved that the Grandaddy of UK tri still has a major role to play alongside the new (70.3 Staffs) and huge (Blenheim) in the future of UK tri. Here’s to the next 25 years.
Look out for a Windsor special in issue 315 of 220, out in July.