An eight-year-old’s account of becoming a triathlete (blog)

Leo Riggs recounts this year's baptism-by-tri, from his debut in Dorset to a birthday aquathlon, jellyfish blooms and more


I couldn’t wait until the 1st January 2015. I could finally apply for my British Triathlon race licence. When it arrived in the post I got straight on the Internet to look for children’s Tristar triathlon events.


Mum helped me search events in the south and we came up with a list of aquathlon and triathlon events. Mum became my booking secretary and entered me into several events. This gave me something to work towards.

I started training with my dad. I wrote my own timetable so he would know what we were doing each night. He needed a bit of motivation on the bike so I helped him out a bit. A few lengths of the pool one night, a couple of laps around the block another and a few trips to the velodrome. I was race ready!

A triathlon career is born

My first race was a triathlon in Wimborne, Dorset. I was really nervous but my friend was doing it too so it was nice to see a familiar face. All of the marshals were really nice and made sure we knew exactly what to do and where to go. I really enjoyed it and came second.

My next race was an aquathlon in Yeovil and a very early start! I had all my kit ready the night before and checked it off against my list. We ate breakfast on the way and registered in plenty of time. It was a really well organised event and the marshals were all really friendly again. I had a good swim but an even better run and came first. I got a really nice trophy which I was really proud of.

The next event was the Kingfisher aquathlon in South London. This is where I met the lovely people at Tribe Junior, who had a whole stand of children’s triathlon clothing and accessories. Mum said it would have saved her hours trawling the Internet looking for children’s triathlon wear! After a conversation with the company owners, Matt and Paula, they agreed that I could race under their team name.

Another first place at the Kingfisher and with a new team name. It was an awesome day!

Birthday aquathlon

I chose to do an aquathlon for my birthday too. Chapel Tri Club made me feel really welcome, I caught up with Tribe Junior and came first. Best birthday ever.

Lots more triathlons came over the following months, including Trinity and Shaftesbury. My first lake swim was not a good experience as the water was horrible. I was covered with weed and muck.

Unfortunately this played on my mind during a two-hour drive to Eton Dorney Kids’ SuperTri, and I very nearly dropped out at the last minute. However, when the whistle went I couldn’t help but jump in.

I was so pleased I did. It was an awesome race in an amazing venue, and I saw some familiar faces too. It was nice that I recognised and could chat to a few of the other children. A third place at Eton Dorney was a good achievement, but swimming the lake was a bigger one.

I kept practising my transitions as this is what had slowed me down a little, and I got out on the bike a bit more.

Jumping in with the jellyfish

Another water challenge awaited me at the Portland Aquathlon. An open-water sea swim and jellyfish! Masses of them. I was assured by others that they wouldn’t sting but I wasn’t so sure. In the end I went for it and got my fastest swim time! I was really keen to get out of the water though. First place and sea swim conquered.

 My most recent triathlon was in Sherborne. Another beautiful venue and the Wessex Wizards had it well organised. I had my biggest transition disaster here though: we had coloured bibs to put on and I got in a complete muddle. Head in arm hole, upside down and inside out. Got there in the end but I had a lot of chasing down to do. I caught two places on the bike and passed one on the run to make me the first boy.

I’ve had a blast this year. I’ve been to lots of new places and met some really cool people. Now I’m looking forward to Hever Castle in September.

I just wish I had a good local triathlon club to join. There seems to be a real shortage, especially in Doset. I will keep training with dad, although it won’t be long before he can’t keep up! Thanks to all of the people and clubs who have put on some awesome events this year. I would encourage any young person to give triathlon a go.


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