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DuckNDash Aquathlon race report

Race write-up from the inaugural Hertfordshire 400m swim/5km run event

The inaugural Letchworth Garden City DuckNDash Aquathlon took place on Sunday 5 September, celebrating 75 years of outdoor summer swimming at Letchworth Lido. FreedomTri marked the end of their first year with a highly original and meticulously executed sprint Aquathlon that brought a ‘big race vibe’ to a community sporting event.

As the opening bars of Billy Bragg’s ‘Accident Waiting to Happen’ rang out over reddening Hertfordshire skies, the irony was not lost on a field made up mainly of multisport novices plus a dozen or so experienced triathletes drawn from North London to Lincolnshire by the quirky and almost-unique combination, of an 1930’s outdoor 50m pool, adjacent to a gritty XC route around Norton Common.

FreedomTri makes a big play of keeping multisport accessible with BTF-affiliated entry set at only £10. The fully loaded goody bag alone was worth a DuckNDash to see what this fledgling brood of triathletes could serve up. The club strap-line is simply ‘Enjoy It!’ … and they did.

With only four lanes spread across an Olympic-size pool, the 80 ducks had plenty of room for a 400m splash and, after a waddle through transition that provided plenty of laughs for onlookers and participants alike, they were off to catch early worms on a common just made for 5k cross-country. Some novices still had water on the brain, negotiating the two-lap run course and gained a real insight into the weird and wonderful effects of combining endurance disciplines, so early in the morning.

At the sharp end of the race, Nick Sturge strutted his stuff in the plumage of St Albans-based Tri-Force while champion age-grouper Nick Grimer, of Spalding Tri, flew along, resplendent in GB kit. Though Grimer put in the day’s quickest run-split of 18:09 over an undulating, in-places wooded, course, it was the Hertfordshire man’s victory by virtue of a 40-second swim-margin, to finish in 25:07.

FreedomTri’s Natasha Davies, starting her first-ever multisport event (and coming back from protracted injury) took the ladies race in 30:27 showing a glimpse of real potential from this sub-3 hour marathon specialist.

Some unusual prizes were mixed with useful spoils of swim and run for overall winners as well as top vets and novices. The element of fun was maintained with a prize-draw for all finishers… it was becoming increasingly obvious that triathletes were warming to the refreshing FreedomTri philosophy…

“This was a fantastic event – the setting was idyllic for the swim and the run. It was very well marshalled and co-ordinated and I can’t wait to enter again”. Jo Harbon, North Herts Road Runners – Winner FV40

Next year’s DuckNDash promises to be ‘bigger and better’ but the club are determined not to lose the local flavour and down-to-earth appeal. When planning your 2011 race diary, remember to take a gander at www.freedomtri.co.uk.

Photo credit and report: Martyn Annetts

Profile image of Matt Baird Matt Baird Editor of Cycling Plus magazine


Matt is a regular contributor to 220 Triathlon, having joined the magazine in 2008. He’s raced everything from super-sprint to Ironman, duathlons and off-road triathlons, and can regularly be seen on the roads and trails around Bristol. Matt is the author of Triathlon! from Aurum Press and is now the editor of Cycling Plus magazine.