The Welsh government has pointed to latest figures revealing that triathlon is ‘experiencing unprecedented growth in Wales while having a positive impact on local economies.’
September has been a popular month for triathlons in Wales. 3,260 participants took part in IRONMAN Wales in Pembrokeshire and Sandman on Anglesey over the same weekend earlier in the month and Anglesey looks forward to hosting the Snowman event this weekend.
Welsh Triathlon, the National Governing body of the sport in Wales, has seen its membership more than double over the last 4 years from 500 in 2011 to 1300 in 2014. Triathlon participation in Wales has increased by around 22% in 2014 and there were over 70 events in Wales in 2014.
IRONMAN Wales, which took place in Pembrokeshire on 13 September saw 2,400 athletes representing 30 countries taking part. Since its inception in 2011, when 1478 athletes signed up to the challenge, IRONMAN Wales has now grown to become a firm fixture and attracts not only an impressive 50% of first timers, but also a very high number of athletes from Pembrokeshire. 238 Pembrokeshire athletes took up the IRONMAN challenge this year, a 10% increase on last year.
Regional Director of IRONMAN, Kevin Stewart, said “IRONMAN Wales has earned its reputation as not only one of the toughest IRONMAN races, but also one that offers athletes the most amazing atmosphere. With record novice and local residents inspired to take part, IRONKIDS Wales is also seeing an unprecedented growth, with over 1200 kids aged 3-14 competing this year.”
He continued, “None of this could be achieved without the extensive support throughout the county of Pembrokeshire, together with Welsh Government and the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority.”
The Sandman Triathlon in Anglesey organised by Always Aim High Events has seen a growth of 218% over the last four years. In addition, the Snowman event, taking place this weekend, has seen 231% growth in the last four years.
Tim Lloyd, Always Aim High Events Director, said “It’s been great to see so many people take up triathlon as both a hobby and a sport. The growth in entries we’ve seen over the last 4-5 years has been nothing short of incredible. There are many benefits associated with taking part in triathlon, with the health benefits being the most obvious.
“With sprint and Olympic distances available alongside age group categories, triathlon is quite possibly one of the most inclusive sports in the world. It’s awesome to see more and more people getting involved in triathlon!”
Beverley Lewis, Executive Officer for Welsh Triathlon, said “Welsh Triathlon is committed to making triathlon available to everyone. The variety of distances and environments in which triathlons, and related multisports of aquathlon and duathlon take place, mean there is an event for everyone.
“The paratriathlon community is growing across Wales with Llanelli hosting the British Championship last year. We are working with [the] Tenovus charity to bring more women to the sport and talking to Streetgames with the aim of taking a variety of triathlon out into more local settings.
“Our novice and entry races are not expensive and don’t demand the sort of high tech equipment used by the professionals.”
The demographic for triathletes is peaking around 40-44 years of age with an average income of around £45k. For a participation race of around 1000 people, with the added spectators and recce visits, the economic impact could more than £250,000 per event.
Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism, Ken Skates, said “I’m delighted that the Welsh Government has been able to play its part in the growth of triathlon events in Wales and that these events are becoming self-sustaining and having a positive impact on the local economy; it’s also encouraging for the growth of the sport that many of the races in the Welsh calendar are club run and that there’s such a commitment locally for triathlon events.
“Of course, many of these events would not be possible without the volunteers who give of their time to make these events happen. I also hope many of the spectators will be inspired to get more active and these events will have a positive impact on the nation’s health. The Year of Adventure in 2016 is the perfect opportunity to try something new for the first time.”