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Athletes Are Streets Ahead
Friday 16th October 2015 @ 11:25 by Mark Phillip

Fitness fanatics from far and wide descended on Tameside last Sunday for the annual XL triathlon.

Into its sixth consecutive year, the event, which is described as the perfect ‘off road’ tri for adrenaline junkies, saw no less than 60 competitors take part.

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Taking place at Copley Leisure Centre, Stalybridge, the individual triathlon consisted of a 500m swim, a 14.9 mile mountain bike ride and a 9.3km run.

Those who entered the relay event were subjected to slightly different conditions.

Challengers were given an extra 250 metres to swim, thus taking the first phase of the challenge to 750 metres.

The event attracted a good mix of club class competitors, social runners and beginners.

Everyone that took part was rewarded with a goody bag upon crossing the finish line.

Despite a broad range of abilities, some participants were more competitive than others.

Finishing in first, second and third place with times of 01:38:38, 01:40:02 and 01:40:39 were Andy Brown, David Hughes and Jonathon Milton respectively.

Crossing the finish line in sixth place with a laudable 01:45:19 was Cole Drews.

The 28-year-old made up a handful of challengers to be representing Tameside’s Tri Guru Triathlon Club.

Other affiliates included Peter Barncroft, who finished in 15th place, Sean Stafford, who placed 19th position and Chris Blackshaw, who claimed 40th position.

Upon completing the race, Alison Blackshaw – another club member – was met with a hero’s response.

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The 53-year-old claimed a third place finish in the female category. Upon completing the race, Alison spoke to Reporter Sport. “I was really pleased with my result, especially given my age” she joked.

“The whole event was absolutely fantastic. I’ve done four this year and others in previous years.”

Alison particularly enjoyed the swimming element. She added: “They let us swim individually on Sunday, but there’s normally four or five in a lane at a time, so you can often be held up by people in front of you”

As a fairly experienced competitor, Alison is aware of what the borough has to offer.

However, she was exposed to undiscovered routes last Sunday. She admitted: “The route on the bike and run was beautiful, and even though I sort of know the area well, it took me on a few paths that I’ve never done before.

“It also made me appreciate how much work the council do, because they’ve improved the paths and surfaces over the tops.

“The organisation and marshalling of the course was brilliant as well.”

Alison undertakes numerous training sessions each week in a bid to improve her overall performance.

While Sunday mornings are reserved for bike rides, Monday’s are generally devoted to swimming. She added: “We have an instructor called Kath, who provides us with lessons at Dukinfield baths on Monday evenings.

“I was 49-years-old when I started to do the front crawl properly, so we’ll usually concentrate on improving individual strokes.”

As a self-professed fitness fanatic, Alison takes her sport fairly seriously. “If we’re practicing for an event then we’ll meet at Copley and go for a run over the moors” she said.

“There’s always somebody doing a various event at team tri guru, whether it be a marathon or a 10k run.

“I travelled to Mojacar, Spain, along with five others, to compete in an event two weeks ago.

“Other people have done the sandman and snowman competition, and they’re all linked together in Wales and Anglesey.”