Heavy rain hits ‘stunning and savage’ Croyde Ocean Triathlon

North Devon Gazette

Croyde Ocean Triathlon, now in its 7th year, took place at Putsborough Sands Beach on July 4.

With its 1.5km ocean swim, 38km hilly cycle course and 12km off road run, it always provides an incredible challenge, but this year, the heavens opened mid race, making the cycle and run section even more difficult.

Billed as ‘Stunning and Savage’ it certainly lived up to its name. 550 people were on the start line for the socially distanced time trial format and at least the combination of low swell and off shore wind made the swim section less daunting for competitors.

With four times winner and record holder, Jack Hutchens, not participating this year, the race was open. However, it was quickly dominated by the 18-year-old Brighton and Hove Triathlon winner, Toby Nesbit who crossed the line in first place, in a time of 2hrs 21 minutes with a comfortable lead of five minutes over local athlete Hamish James (Barnstaple) who came 5th last year. Bronze was taken by vet Mark Redwood (Nottingham), who came in, under two minutes behind.

In the women’s Keri-Ann Upham took gold in a time of two hours and 42 minutes, maintaining a comfortable lead of 10 minutes over Victoria Duncan who has taken silver two years running.

Third place only a minute behind was vet, Elizabeth Richardson. New to the sport and one to watch out for was 4th placed, local from Croyde, Sky Pirie who at 17 was the youngest triathlete on the course. Coming from a background of Surf Life Saving competitions, she completed the swim in a stunning time of 23 minutes and 24 seconds, making her easily the fasted woman in the water.

The first team over the line was Big Goat Tri Club and the Brewer Harding and Rowe Family Cup was won by team Tothill, headed up by Lucy Tothill who is a regular of the triathlon and came in 4th in the women’s category last year.

As ever Croyde Ocean Triathlon had all ages of varying abilities from GB athletes to first timers. Competitors come from all over the UK to participate in what is billed as the must do, and one of the most scenic triathlons in the UK.

Although incredibly tough, it is known as one of the friendliest races in the world, and their volunteer marshals really help make the race what it is.

Competitor Liz Ruffles said: “Fantastic event! Thank you to everyone who helped to make it happen. Lots of great people with amazing attitudes out in bad weather just so we can go fro a swim bike and run – VERY grateful!’

Mike Morris Event director added: “We never get used to the amazing atmosphere of this race: Each year it is a sell out and while we are constantly having new people participate, we are so happy to see regular faces come down to our spot here in North Devon year after year.

“We would like to thank all our marshals, lifeguards and sponsors including Choice Cottages, Phillips Smith and Dunn Estate Agents, Dry Robe, Rob Tucker at Putsborough Beach, Zone and Presca Sportswear.”

There was a great spread of ages from 17-year-olds to 74-year-olds.

The oldest Competitor, gold medallist, Brian Crumptom from Bristol took up the sport in his 70’s.

Interviewed at the end of the race of the race, he said: “I was a little nervous, never not having done an Ocean Swim before, the rest was fine although I did have a little niggle in my calf. I want to come back next year to improve my time.”

He signed up to 2022 within five hours of crossing the finish line.

The date for next year's Croyde Ocean Triathlon is 10/07/22 and Early Birds for 2022 are available for a short while at www.croydeocean.co.uk