Join us in the North East of England as Sunderland hosts one of the biggest triathlon events of 2023!
Book your spot on Roker Beach as thousands of athletes, supporters and spectators celebrate swim, bike, run in style.
Sunderland’s big triathlon, what is it?
You may have heard that a triathlon event is coming to Roker on 29 and 30 July, but do you know what AJ Bell 2023 World Triathlon Championship Series Sunderland actually is and how you can get involved with the swim, bike, run fun?
An intro to triathlon
Triathlon is swimming, cycling and running (in that order) one after the other without stopping in between. To connect the disciplines together, participants go through transition. Transition one (or T1) is from swim to bike, here you’ll take off your wetsuit and goggles and swap them for you helmet and cycling gear before heading off on your bike. Transition two (or T2) is from bike to run, simply put your bike back, kit up for the run and you’re on your way to the finish line.
Swim, bike, run are the three elements of a triathlon, and that’s how you’ll hear the sport referred to because, simply put, a triathlon is swim a bit, bike a bit, run a bit.
What makes the event in Sunderland this summer so special is that it brings together people who have never taken part in triathlon before (some may not have even heard of it until they entered) and the best in the world.
This is because the World Triathlon Championship Series (or WTCS) is the highest level of annual elite triathlon racing, so AJ Bell 2023 WTCS Sunderland will bring the best triathletes from Britain and around the world to swim, bike, run in Roker on the same beach, streets and routes as everyone else. Don’t worry though, they’ll have their own time to do it.
Enough of the elite racing (we’ll come back to that later), what about for your every-day triathlete, active person or Jo Bloggs wanting to give swim, bike, run a go? Well, there are four different distances available with various ways to get involved with Swim Bike Run Sunderland.
Swim Bike Run in Sunderland – how to take part
We mentioned the four distances, but that’s not the full story for the options available to you. Buckle up and get ready to pick one…
The Big Swim Bike Run (200m swim; 10km bike; 2.5km run)
Designed as an attainable distance regardless of your sporting background, don’t be fooled by the name, because The Big Swim Bike Run is the shortest option over the weekend that includes all three disciplines. It’s for anyone aged 15+ and there’s the opportunity to borrow a wetsuit and helmet for free.
Swim Bike Run Mini sponsored by Stoneacre Toyota (50m swim; 1km run)
This is the family option, with kids aged 4+ able to take part alongside an adult in a swim-run activity. Free wetsuits are available to borrow, and there must be one adult registered for everyone two children - in one family group you can have a maximum of two adults and four children.
Sprint Distance (750m swim; 20km bike; 5km run)
The sprint distance was one of the most common distances at events across Britain in 2022 and is an achievable challenge for a first-timer, a go-to if you’re a club triathlete, and a good option if you’re a one sport person looking to put swim, bike, run together. Here are the sprint options:
Individual: Match the elites with the sprint distance and swim, bike, run your way around Roker solo
Relay Team: Same as with the standard distance, two or three of you come together to tick off the disciplines for a combined team effort and total time
Standard Distance (1,500m swim; 40km bike; 10km run)
The standard distance was the most popular race in Leeds last year and is a great distance if you’re a regular triathlete or endurance athlete who is looking to combine swimming, cycling and running. So what are your options to take part:
Individual: Anyone up for the challenge of going further than the elites can take this on by themselves and complete the longest distance available over the weekend
Relay Team: To do it with friends, you can take on the challenge as a team and divide the disciplines between two or three of you and set a combined team triathlon time
Individual British Standard Distance Triathlon Championships and Age-Group Team Qualifier: British Triathlon Home Nation members can also set out to become British Champion and qualify to represent the Great Britain Age-Group Team for 2024
Now you’ve got an idea of what’s on offer on 29-30 July, have you decided how you’re going to get involved?
AJ Bell 2023 World Triathlon Championship Series Sunderland – elite racing
We mentioned it at the top, but Sunderland will host the British leg of the World Triathlon Championship Series for the first time in 2023, providing a great opportunity to take part in the same event as the best in the world. It also means that if you don’t fancy taking part, you can still get involved by coming down to watch or by volunteering at the event.
Last year’s series included stops in Hamburg, Montreal, Bermuda and Leeds on its way to the finals in Abu Dhabi. Accruing points across the nine-stage 2022 series, Britain’s Georgia Taylor-Brown and Alex Yee both finished the year as world silver medallists with British athletes winning 15 medals across the nine events.
The athletes who will compete in Sunderland won’t be known until July, however, last year’s event in Leeds featured the likes of current world and Olympic champion from Bermuda, Flora Duffy, two-time world champion, Vincent Luis of France and fellow Frenchman Leo Bergere, the current world champion.
Then there were the Brits, three-time Olympic medallist Jonny Brownlee, two-time Olympic medallist and double Commonwealth champion Yee, and Taylor-Brown who has gold and silver medals from both the Olympics and Commonwealth Games to her name. Also on the start line was Kate Waugh from Gateshead, who went on to become U23 World Champion in November in Abu Dhabi.
That gives you some idea of what the racing might look like and, whilst we don’t know the confirmed routes yet, we do know that it’ll involve a sea swim before they bike and run on the roads around Roker, providing plenty of opportunities to watch these global stars battle in out. They’ll race the sprint distance (750m swim; 20km bike; 5km run) and cross the same finish line as everyone else over the weekend.
Plus, with it being the year before the Olympics in Paris, there will also be vital qualification points on offer as the athletes seek to reach the promised land of the Olympic Games.
How to get involved…
Whether it’s for the elite or participation races you can come down and watch, you can also get involved and make the magic happen by volunteering in one of the many roles available.
For the ultimate triathlon experience, why not combine spectating or volunteering with taking part for yourself and enter one of the race options on offer.
- The Bradley Lowery Foundation is the Official Charity Partner
- The elite racing will be broadcast live on BBC Sport
- Local businesses can get involved with sponsorship packages available
- There will be opportunities to take part in swim, bike, run before and after the weekend locally through clubs, events and activities