The former F1 World Champion and current Vodafone McLaren Mercedes driver, Jenson Button, treated spectators at Luton Hoo Estate to a display of strength, speed, and endurance. But on this occasion there were no cars were to be seen, as Button and his competitors swam, cycled and ran at the inaugural Jenson Button Trust Triathlon.
The Human Race event welcomed 300 competitors to the beautiful setting in Bedfordshire in aid of raising money for Button’s chosen charity Help For Heroes.
The event featured an innovative race format as competitors raced the 300m swim, 9km Bike and 2.5km run around the picturesque grounds in the morning and again in the afternoon in an eliminator style competition.
The top 50 males in each heat were placed into a final with the remaining athletes left to compete in the ‘wooden spoon’ race with wooden spoons signed by Jenson Button up for grabs. The work was cut out for the females who had to go all out in both races as the podium spots were determined by a cumulative time across the two heats.
The morning’s waves were competitive with Tommy Vonach winning the first exclaiming he was “ready to challenge Jenson in the final!” To which Button’s response was simply “Bring it on!” With the pressure on, Button qualified for the final in ninth position with a time of 32:04, but there was a sense he and others were conserving energy for their second race of the day.
The conditions at Luton Hoo were certainly testing with athletes competing in 32 degree heat and the first of the female waves taking place under the burning midday sun, following which athletes made the most of a 1 hour pit stop to refuel before the afternoon races.
The female competition was won by, Emily McLoughin who battled through the heat in her trademark plaits. McLoughin was chased throughout by Stacey Penn and Lucy Smith but finished in pole position in both heats with total time of 1:02:21. Stacey Penn (1:04:28) secured silver and Lucy Smith (1:05:41) took bronze chopping of 51 seconds in her second race.
With most competitors now back in the event village, it was time for the final of the men’s competition. Knocking off 46 seconds from his first heat, Keane stormed out of T1 and pulled away from the rest of the field to finish in 26:37 and take the men’s title. Carl Shaw held on to second place crossing the line in 27:21, with Sam Wade snapping up the bronze in 27:47.
The Jenson Button Trust raised an amazing total of £20,000 for Help For Heroes. To make a donation visit: www.justgiving.com/jensonbutton.