From crossing his mind to crossing the line

23 February, 2023

From crossing his mind to crossing the line

Sunderland local Michael Donkin had thought about triathlon but never taken part until the opportunity came up to give swim, bike, run a go last year at Roker Beach.

In 2022, the British Triathlon Super Series Grand Final was held at Roker, with participation opportunities on offer alongside the national finals taking place, with this year having even more reason to get involved.

Donkin, who didn’t have much experience in the three disciplines of triathlon, decided that with the support on offer and the fact that it was taking place near to home, that this was his time to give the sport a go.

“I’m 36 and triathlon has crossed my mind quite a few times,” Donkin said. “The thing that’s held me back is that I haven’t got any experience in any of the disciplines.

“I have done quite a bit of what I would class as fun running in the past – 10k obstacle runs I quite enjoy and tend to a couple of those a year. Not competitively, it’s more for the fun aspect of it.

“I’m probably sitting about 100kg, maybe a little bit more, so I’m not your stereotypical runner or triathlete, but I do own a gym and I’ve worked in the fitness industry for quite a long time.”

As someone who likes to be active, the variety of combining the three sports in the build up and at the event itself was one of the things that attracted Donkin to take part.

“I’d done a little bit of the disciplines individually as a fun thing,” he continued. “One thing I highlighted quite early on, probably before signing up, was that I’m horrendous at swimming. I decided to sign up to the six week training that led up and I think that that paid dividends in itself.”

As part of the build up to AJ Bell 2023 World Triathlon Championship Series Sunderland, the Foundation of Light will be running monthly sessions from the Sunderland Aquatics Centre that bring together triathlon’s three disciplines. For more information, please click here.

This July will see the world’s best triathletes come to Sunderland as the city hosts the British leg of the World Triathlon Championship Series. From 29-30 July, thousands of participants, volunteers and spectators will head to Roker, with various swim, bike, run opportunities on offer from first timer to regular participants.

British Triathlon and Sunderland City Council are partnering together to bring AJ Bell 2023 World Triathlon Championship Series Sunderland to the city, providing a home race for elite British athletes and the opportunity for the local community to see the best in the world and be inspired to explore the various opportunities to get involved in swim, bike, run across Sunderland.

There are a range of participation opportunities in July, with the equivalent of Donkin’s event, The Big Swim Bike Run, seeing participants take part in a 200m swim, 10km bike and 2.5km run.

“It gave me the opportunity to give it a go,” Donkin said of taking part in 2022. “It came up on my radar a couple of times before, but everything else I’d found was a little bit too competitive. So this was a perfect opportunity to give it a go.

“When you go into anything, you expect it to be a bit of a closed shop. You’re either involved in the industry or the sport, or the discipline or you’re not, and I got the impression that we were made to feel welcome and that we’d be welcome to continue and progress if that was a route we wanted to take.

“There were people on hand throughout the day, from literally arriving, everyone was really helpful from showing you where you should be to how to set your bike up, preparing for the start of the event and during the course of the event and the finish as well.”

Having never felt ready to take part in triathlon before, the pieces fell into place for Donkin to get involved in swim, bike, run in Sunderland.

“It came up and it was local. The price was right. The situation was right, and everything just fit into place for me,” he said.

“You can take from it what you wanted. I’m naturally quite a competitive person, so tried to push my boundaries a little bit. But there were a lot of people there for fun as well, and likewise, some people who were a little bit more experienced. It didn’t matter where you sat within that group, it worked quite well.”

Taking place on 29-30 July, AJ Bell 2023 World Triathlon Championship Series Sunderland will take place at Roker Beach and provide opportunities over various distances to take part in swim, bike, run.

To find the distance that’s right for you, check out the entry options here: