Why I’m coming back to Sunderland for more swim, bike, run

12 April, 2023

Why I’m coming back to Sunderland for more swim, bike, run

Lucy Crookston has been a keen swim, bike, runner since 2014 when she signed up with a group of friends from work, learning to swim in time for the event and never looking back.

Having never really heard of triathlon before, the Scot signed up to Blenheim Triathlon with her work.

“I signed up for it and instantly panicked and thought ‘I’m going to need to learn how to swim here’”, Crookston reflected on getting ready for her first event.

“I always used to run, but never distance, so the distance thing was new as well. It was the classic, got to the event, did the event, at the time thought it was brutal and finished and became a full-blown addict and thought ‘when can I do the next one?’.

“It was the community feel, everyone was doing it together, to have everyone there with you. That was my first experience of what triathlon was.”

Since that first experience, Crookston has dived into various opportunities that come with swim, bike, run and is now a member of her local club, East Fife Triathlon Club.

“It’s the same community feel,” Crookston added. “Everyone, regardless of what level you’re at, everyone just really enjoys going and doing swim, bike, run with other people.”

Ahead of this year’s AJ Bell 2023 World Triathlon Championship Series Sunderland, the city hosted a test event in 2022 with Crookston taking part there and also at the World Triathlon Championship Series [WTCS] event in Leeds in 2021, and she’s coming back for more this July.

“I saw the event and I thought it looked really good,” she commented. “The sea swim and the closed roads are always a positive.

“Even though it’s an open space, it is like an amphitheatre. It wasn’t a World Series event at that point, [but] the crowds were amazing. Walking about the venue and walking to and walking from, there were locals who weren’t necessarily there for the triathlon that were really interested in what was happening and asking lots of questions. I would then tell them that there’s a bigger event next that’s happening.

“I’ve opted for the sprint this time. It [a WTCS event] is just another level. It’s the people, the crowds are just amazing. The whole park in Leeds, there were people against all the barriers, even for all the age group races.

“That’s what I love about triathlon, it’s so inclusive. Whether you’re doing a GO TRI and it’s your first triathlon or you’re in the elite wave, you’re all on the same course. It’s one of the few sports that will let you do that.”

With the routes for this summer’s event having been announced, all races that happen over the weekend will cross the same finish line. From four year olds in the Swim Bike Run Mini to the elite athletes in the WTCS races, all routes will conclude down the blue carpet and across the finish on Roker beachfront.

When asked what she was most looking forward to about returning to Sunderland this summer, Crookston answered: “Probably the crowds, the ambience of the whole event. Like how it was at Leeds and knowing how amazing it was in Sunderland last year, but then knowing it’s going to have the world class athletes and so many people travelling for it, it’s going to be amazing.”

AJ Bell 2023 World Triathlon Championship Series Sunderland is a flagship event as part of the collaborative work between Sunderland City Council and Triathlon England to develop swim, bike, run participation and resource within the local community.

Find out more about the event in July and the range of opportunities to get involved here: https://sunderland.triathlon.org/2023.