SELKIRK athlete Paul McGreal is on a two-horsed chariot this year.
For the triathlete is busy building up his outdoor sporting events company, Durty Events, alongside maintaining a competitive career.
The 40-year-old returned from competing in the European Cross (off-road) Triathlon Championships on the northern coast of Holland earlier this month.
He came ninth in his age group and said: “It was a really nice event – tough and challenging. The run course was on a sand dune, it went in and out of soft sand and up and down the beach. It was a really interesting technical course – the swim was in the North Sea and, with the wind up, the waves were crashing in and we started into about five-foot waves, so it was not the normal experience!”
More recently, on Saturday, he was at St Mary’s Loch running the Durty Tri that he and Border Triathletes started five years ago.
The off-road triathlon attracted about 350 competitors.
“It was pretty much the same size as last year, which given the weather conditions, was a good result,” said McGreal.
New this year was the children’s aquathon: “We have such a great venue in Tibbie Shiels that it made sense. We had about 40 kids from all over the country. Their enthusiasm was infectious, they were just so keen and so talented. That’s something we will definitely be running again next year.”
The winner of Saturday’s Long Hard Durty was Graham Wadsworth in two hours, three minutes and 16 seconds.
Some of the first locals home were Grahame Veitch (2.39.49) and Kenny Short (2.44.45). The Short Fast Durty was won by John Woodrow in 1.12.03. Kinross High School’s Ewan Boyle won the first Long Aquathon in 21 minutes and two seconds. The Short Aquathon title went to Erin Wallace in 13.39, with locals Zoe Pflug of Border Triathletes coming second (14.53), closely followed by Kelso Amateur Swimming Club’s Fraser Veitch (14.59).
McGreal said: “The Durty Tri course certainly lived up to its name this year – people came back covered in mud! We’ve had fantastic feedback.”
He is looking forward to another first in a few weeks when he stages a new duathlon enduro at Bowhill next month. The off-road run and bike event takes place on Saturday, August 25 (entries are still open), when individuals and teams of two and four will alternate running around two kilometres, with mountain biking around six kilometres for eight hours.
McGreal says it’s a good mix of forest track and twisty single track with a kids’ forest obstacle playpark for extra fun – and that mud will be a feature.
There will be camping and a ceilidh “because I like the idea that people don’t just turn up to race, but stay around and have some fun and get to know each other,” said McGreal.
Then there is his Craggy Island Tri up north at the beginning of September when competitors swim around an island off Oban as part of the course. Now in its second year and already sold out, it was Triathlon Scotland’s Most Enjoyable Event of the Year in 2011.
Back to his own competitive year, McGreal admitted: “Racing has taken a bit of a back seat this year because I’ve been busy getting Durty Events off the ground – and I’m still struggling with the work/life balance.”
He’s hoping to compete for the seventh time in the Ben Nevis Tri in September when the run section is to ascend Scotland’s highest mountain.
“I just love it, it’s just a really good race, but, gee, it’s tough. I’ll see what happens, but I might follow it up with the Highland Warrior the following day, if I can get out of bed!”
And he did fit in what he describes as a mini adventure in early summer.
“We had that lovely hot spell in May and I had always wanted to ride the West Highland Way on mountain bike, so I went and had a go.”
He got a lift to Fort William, hopped out and 16 hours later had covered the 96 miles to Glasgow.
“The only photo I have is outside the Bridge of Orchy pub. It’s a picture of a pint. I think that maybe says something about me.”