Sharron Ratcliffe has travelled to race at World Triathlon Championship Series Leeds for the past three editions, but now the event has moved to her doorstep as Sunderland prepares to host it in 2023.
“I was over the moon [when the event was announced as coming to Sunderland]. I think it’ll be huge, I think it’ll be really big,” Ratcliffe said. “It’ll be all over our local news and people will be able to see what triathlon is all about.”
A member of Wearside Triathlon Club, Ratcliffe takes part in multiple swim, bike, run events during the year, and the World Triathlon Championship Series weekend in Leeds has become a staple for her, with July 29-30 2023 seeing it head to Sunderland for the first time.
“I love the race, I love Leeds anyway, but the best thing is when you get to watch the elites race afterwards,” Ratcliffe commented. “You’ve got the big atmosphere there.”
“The clubs will benefit out of it and obviously a lot of people are going to travel to Sunderland and it’s going to benefit it a lot I think. You’ll probably see an increase in clubs taking on new members.
“For me, being part of Wearside [Triathlon Club] is more the fact of the friendship side of it, you meet a lot of lovely people and also the encouragement that they give you.”
With Roker Seafront taking centre stage in the triathlon world over 29-30 July, Sunderland will be placed on a par with cities like Abu Dhabi, Yokohama and Hamburg who will also host World Triathlon Championship Series events in 2023.
“It’s quite spectacular, to know that where you’re living is going to be a race,” Ratcliffe added. “The people of Leeds have had theirs there for however many years, for it to come to Sunderland, it’s coming to us!”
“If my mind is right, we’ve got at least 10-15 [club] members racing in Sunderland. It’s quite flat so it’ll be a fast race I think, and fingers crossed the sea will play ball. It’s a nice route, running along the coast and people will enjoy the race I think.”
One thing that makes taking part in the World Triathlon Championship Series weekend so unique, is being able to see the best in the world swim, bike, run to the same blue carpet finish line that everyone crosses.
In 2023, the elite action will take place within the qualification window for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, providing athletes from Britain and around the world with the vital opportunity to earn points towards their quest to qualify for the Games.
“It’s quite surreal,” Ratcliffe continued. “The first year I did Leeds was 2019 I think, and I did my race on Saturday and then going straight down the road to watch the elites, seeing them go past and the amount of people lining the streets, was just a different feel. Then my sister’s ringing me because she can see me on the telly!
“The blue carpet feel is very, very special. I don’t know, it’s completely different when you see them [the elites] because they’re going to be on it, and you see the big blue sign when you cross the line. It’s just a different feel to any normal local race. I’ve done it every year apart from Covid because it’s just a different feel.”
With moving to a new city, British Triathlon hope that the event can inspire a whole new wave of people to pick up swim, bike, run, with Ratcliffe recounting her first experience of a World Triathlon Championship Series weekend.
“I remember doing the race and I remember the run. I loved the swim, and the bike was quite a nice bike route, but the run down into town, knowing you were running towards where everybody was. That was my best experience of Leeds.”
World Triathlon Championship Series Sunderland will take place in and around Roker Seafront on 29-30 July 2023, with participation opportunities available across swim, bike, run individually and as a team.
There’s the Sprint (750m swim, 20km bike, 5km run), the Standard (1,500m swim, 40km bike, 10km run), The BIG Swim Bike Run (200m swim, 10km bike, 2.5km run) and the Swim Bike Run Mini for families (50m swim, 1km run), as well as opportunities to volunteer and be part of bringing the event to life.
Find out more about the event and find the distance that’s right for you at https://sunderland.triathlon.org/2023.