Back in 1991 John Lunt, founder of Human Race, had some friends working at Windsor Leisure Centre. When he paid them a visit he realised the surroundings would make it the perfect race setting for a triathlon. ‘I knew it would be a great place to have an event,’ he recalls. ‘The setting is so special’.
So, in the summer of 1991, 250 trailblazers plunged into the River Thames and one of the mainstays of the race calendar was born.
For the first three years a different swim and run course was used. It was not until 1995 the race route moved into Windsor town centre enabling competitors, and the hundreds of spectators lining the streets, to enjoy the iconic sights of Windsor Castle, Eton Bridge and Eton College.
‘Windsor has so many wonderful attractions,’ says Lunt. ‘It’s not just the magnificent sights, Windsor has lots of great hotels and a real support for tourism,’ he says. ‘It’s used to having a lot of people in the town centre and welcoming them. It’s all these factors which contribute to making the Nokia Windsor Triathlon the great event it is,’ Lunt added.
Today, as the race looks forward to its 20th running, ten times as many people will compete on race day, a massive 2,500 in total, as they did in 1991. And it’s now sponsored by one of the world’s most instantly recognisable brands, Nokia and raises over £100,000 for official charities Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research Fund and Breast Cancer Care.
Entries for the this year’s race opened in October 2009 and closed 20 days later when it was completely sold out, resulting in over 2,000 on the waiting list hoping for a place in the 2010 event.
But triathlon wasn’t always so popular. ‘In the early days trying to get people involved was like missionary work,’ says Lunt. ‘There were only a few people who wanted to swim, bike and run,’ he says.‘Now everyone wants to have a go at this fantastic sport’.
Such is the race’s prominence among UK triathletes it’s been awarded the British Triathlon Federation’s (BTF) ‘Event of the Year’, seven times. These awards are particularly important as they are voted for by the members of the BTA.
The 2010 Nokia Windsor Triathlon takes place on Sunday 13 June. The first wave gets underway at 6am and the Elite Race starts at 9am.