The first-ever Hebrides Triathlon is coming to Lewis later this month in what is to become an annual event for the most devoted and fearless of all athletes.
Speaking to the Gazette this week Colin S. Macleod, one of the Hebrides Triathlon organisers, outlined the plans for event, taking place Saturday, July 30, which will be a standard distance triathlon, made up of a 1.5KM swim, 40KM cycle and 10K run, all against the backdrop of the west coast of Lewis.
“The idea just now is that the Hebrides Triathlon will take place on the last Saturday in July every year and I think this could be really good for the island,” began Colin.
“There has been interest from athletes off the island already especially for next year and plans are for that to be a bigger event as this year is a small event with numbers capped at 20.”
The idea for the Hebrides Triathlon was hatched by a group of local athletes: Donald Smith, Colin S Macleod, Mark ‘Doug’ Maciver and Christina Mackenzie; all chipping in with various ideas.
Helping the Western Isles Island Games preparations for the biennial NatWest Island Games was another factor in the establishment of the event locally but Colin is convinced the event can benefit the whole island.
“Having a growing, annual event like this on our own doorstep can only be good for the the whole place,” he explained.
In addition to the gruelling challenges of the Traithlon which sees athletes swim in Loch a’Bhaile in Shawbost, cycle from Shawbost to the Callanish Stones and back before a 10K run down the coast, athletes’ transitions between the individual swim, cycle and run sections are also timed.
But the original location would have seen the triathlon hosted in and around Stornoway.
“We had ideas to swim from Cuddy Point out to Sober Island, then cycle round Achmore and run around the Lews Castle Grounds,” said Colin.
“A lot of that sounds lovely but the thought of swimming around Cuddy Point doesn’t thrill me too much with all the fish guts and oil and everything in the water there from the fishing boats and the ferry.
“There were plans for a duathlon on the West Side and it was when I was looking at aerial views of the area I saw Loch A Bhaile, which I didn’t even know existed really. I went down for a wee swim and a look. It’s beautiful there with the beach on one side and the loch on the other.”
Colin will be one of the inaugural Triathletes at the event as part of a team entry, as he admits he is sticking to his strengths: “There is a choice doing it as an individual or as a team of two with the team being a swimmer and then the other person being the runner/cyclist. I’m in a team with Tom Smith as he can’t swim and I can’t cycle or run.”