ONE OF the biggest, most exciting triathlons to be held in Scotland is coming to the Borders this weekend.
The Scottish Cross (Off-Road) Triathlon Championships, hosted by the Durty Triathlon, will be held on the hills above St Mary’s Loch on Saturday.
The race will be one of the largest triathlons in the north of the UK this year and has attracted a record field of nearly 400 of the leading racers from across the country and beyond.
This massive entry has been due in part to the event also forming the Scottish leg of the new UK-wide Scott X-Tri Series, a new dimension which will bring together four of the biggest and best off-road triathlon races in the country.
Cat Sutherland, UK marketing manager of Scott Sports, told TheSouthern: “Triathlon has really taken off in this country with more and more races moving off the roads and onto the trails, which fits perfectly with Scott, given our heritage in mountain biking. The Durty Tri is the third in the series and we’re looking forward to some more muddy madness up north.”
The event has been supported by Scottish Borders Council in order to promote the region as an adventurous activity destination, and to promote local economic activity.
Councillor Vicky Davidson, executive member for economic development at SBC, said: “The Borders provides a great venue for sporting events and our support builds on our overall promotion of the Borders as a location for activity tourism.
“It is great to see so many participants and I am sure the organisers, competitors and their supporters will have a memorable weekend here.”
Entries are flying in for the event, and are well ahead of expectations. They include many from across Europe, and also a few from New Zealand.
Several UK-based professional racers have also entered in order to try to win the large prizes put up by Scott. These include Graham Wadsworth and Hamish Batchelor, both regulars on the professional XTERRA Europe circuit.
Also coming are some of the medallists from the World Championships held recently in Spain – Harry Coates (gold), Kerry MacPhee (silver) and elite athlete Jacqui Slack.
The race is organised by the Scottish Borders Triathletes club. This will the fourth running of the event and it’s becoming a well-established favourite on the sporting calendar. The Scottish Cross (Off-Road) Triathlon Championships, aka the Long Hard Durty, consists of a freshwater loch 1,500m swim, 30km challenging mountain bike and 10km hilly trail run, with a few obstacles thrown in for good measure.
There’s also a supporting race, the Short Fast Durty, which takes place over half these distances. Organisers are welcoming both solo entries and relay teams (three members) on both courses.
Spectators are welcome – the swim starts are always spectacular as the 200 competitors in each wave fight for space. The water is churned in a manner known as the ‘washing machine’ within the sport.
The two races start at 2.30pm and 3.30pm from the Tibbie Shiels Inn at the loch.
Race organiser, Paul McGreal of Selkirk, told us: “The course is designed to be fun, but challenging with epic climbs resulting in stunning panoramic views across the Southern Uplands and fantastic technical descents by bike.
“The run also has a significant climb of around 800ft on rough forest roads, and a unique descent, initially across trackless wild moorland, followed by a grassy, muddy quad track.
“The entire triathlon course is over some of Scotland’s most spectacular wilderness, ensuring competitors get a real taste of the Borders countryside”.
The race has attracted prestigious sponsors, headlined by Scott Sports UK and Edinburgh-based retailer The Tri Centre. Other sponsors include Craft, Honey Stinger and Peebles company Damn Good Jam.
More details about the event are available at www.durtytriathlon.com