A local award-winning leisure centre is hoping that up to 200 people will sign up for the Mayor’s Triathlon, which will take place in the spring this year, and raises money for charity.
Westminster Lodge on Holywell Hill is hosting its fifth Mayor’s Triathlon event on Sunday, April 24, which will consist of cycling 5km on stationary bikes, swimming eight lengths of the pool (250m) and running 3km in Verulamium park.
The centre is encouraging all to try the event, and you can register to enter online right up till April 17.
The Mayor’s Triathlon was the brainchild of 2014’s Mayor Annie Brewster. The COVID-19 pandemic meant the event couldn’t take place in the past two years but Westminster Lodge management is excited to resurrect it this year and is hoping that now restrictions have eased and life is getting back to normal, many local people will get involved.
Lesley Garner, General Manager Westminster Lodge, says: “We can take up to 200 people for the Mayor’s Triathlon and we’d love to reach this number. It’s a great family friendly fun event but also offers the chance to test fitness levels for those that have taken part in triathlons before.
“It takes anything from 40 minutes to four hours to complete and is an absolutely no pressure event; you can go as fast or as slow as you like. It’s a great challenge for people who’ve never done a Triathlon before, and also for those who just want to kick-start the season. The event is one that friends or families can enter together, so it’s great for encouraging your parents, or your teenagers, to get fit!”
Current Mayor Cllr Edgar Hill, agrees: “When the invitation to take part in the Triathlon came, I jumped at it. I’ve not done one before and have been training for it since November. I’m ok with the running and cycling but I’m a very mediocre swimmer.
“The Mayoress was also very enthusiastic about taking part, is annoyingly a far better swimmer than me and making amazing progress with the running. My daughters (Lara age 18 and Francesca 16) are also taking part. I do believe physical exercise is beneficial to youngsters’ health both physically and mentally.”
The last Mayor’s Triathlon raised over £2,000 for the Rennie Grove Hospice. The event this year will raise money for YouthTalk, which supports young people struggling with mental health problems by providing them with free and confidential counselling.
Exercise has been long recognised as significantly helping with mental health issues, in both the young and older people.
Fiona Griffin, Fitness Manager at Westminster Lodge, says: “Undertaking exercise is essential for so many reasons, but improving people’s mental health appears to be something being discussed more and more. We’ve always known the more physical benefits of exercise, but new research along with the more recent ‘body positive’ movement has allowed us in society to talk about it more often.
“The brain and the body work closely together and we’re starting to see the more long-term health benefits associated with exercise in relation to improving mental health. Finding some kind of movement or exercise that you enjoy doing is really the key to long-term participation. So get out there and discover what keeps you wanting more.”
However, it is important to train properly for the event, to prevent physical injury, says Fiona: “Whatever the triathlon you’re preparing to complete, ensure you plan effectively for the event. A Triathlon has more than one aspect so plan around this. Try organising your training into initially being able to cover the individual distances, then move towards reducing time or efficiency within each discipline.
“It would be fair to say that a triathlon will tax your cardiovascular system, but will also rely on a level of muscular strength endurance. Training sessions will need to ramp up towards the event, then a ‘taper’ before the event itself to ensure the body is rested and raring to go. The triathlon itself will tax the entire body and all systems, so prepare sessions around full body training whilst incorporating the ‘stead state’ approach towards longer distances.”