On Saturday 19th August the second Superhero Triathlon is taking place at the iconic rowing venue from London 2012 Olympics – Dorney Lake in Buckinghamshire. Designed to be truly accessible for all, the event was launched in 2015 as the UK’s first mass participation event for disabled participants and following a break in 2016, returns this year. Their main objective is participation and with this is mind a range of distances are available and in case you don’t want to (or can’t) complete all three phases they even offer a relay option.
Having joined friend and Paralympian, Sophie Christiansen as part of her relay team in 2015 where I took on the swimming phase, I am deleted to see it return as the experience was definitely something that stayed with me. Initially agreeing with the understanding that it was all for fun, it would be a nice day out and actually there probably wouldn’t be that many people there, I was surprised to hear music and announcements before even entering the venue. Our event wasn’t until the afternoon and as I was notified that we would shortly be doing an interview with channel 4, who were filming the event, I started to worry that as an equestrian, my swimming ability wasn’t quite up to a high enough standard to be televised. The arrival of more people added to my concerns as the event grew in popularity but as the morning went on and I witnessed the support of the crowd my apprehension started to vanish. The events that I am more familiar with as a dressage rider involve minimal crowd intervention and it was fair to say that I had never experienced such a supportive atmosphere. People had set camps up, brought banners and picnics but it didn’t matter who they were there to support as they showed just as much enthusiasm to people they didn’t know as they did to their friends and family. They acknowledged courage and persistence and one particular memory was that of a young girl, who was tiring throughout the swim and had to keep stopping for rests, in order to keep going. As the exited the water and everyone cheered loudly in appreciation she held her hands up with the biggest grin on her face as if she’d just broken the world record at the Olympics and no one could deny the strength both mentally and physically it had taken her to do that.
This year they also have a number of celebrities as team captains with the opportunity for members of the public to be part of their team, including Paralympians: Jonnie Peacock, Hannah Cockroft and Georgie Hermitage as well as comedian and talk show host, Adam Hills.
As a sport-mad disabled person, it's difficult to find events to participate in, let alone take part with my friends and family. Superhero Tri is about inclusion at all levels, which means I can take part for enjoyment in my recumbent tricycle. It's so much fun, and having a goal gives you motivation for training.Sophie Christiansen, 3 x Paralympic Champion at Rio 2016
This event really goes the extra mile in terms of inclusion and catering for individual’s needs and there is nothing they won’t allow in order for your to participate. With volunteers available to help people in and out of the water, carers allowed for the transitions, swimming and cycling partners and even someone to push you in your wheelchair if you’re not able to push yourself, there really isn’t much that isn’t allowed. There is no restriction on age or ability whether you’re just starting out, representing Great Britain or somewhere in-between there is something for you.
That is primarily what this event is about – pushing your own limits, taking on challenges you never thought possible and most of all, enjoying yourself with other like minded people. Whatever your role, whether that’s as a participant, volunteer or spectator – I guarantee you’ll come away inspired.