Leeds has become synonymous with swim, bike, run activity in the UK, not only hosting the World Triathlon Championship Series on five occasions, but the wider impact the sport has had on the city and its residents.
One place where the passion and excitement for the sport in the city is certainly evident is Tri Bramley Baths, who by their own words have been boosted by the city’s commitment to swim, bike, run.
The club is based at Bramley Baths, an Edwardian swimming pool and fitness centre in West Leeds and was founded in the months after two of the city’s own triathletes, Alistair and Jonny Brownlee, won Olympic triathlon gold and silver, respectively, at London 2012.
“When the baths came into community ownership and re-opened in 2013, I suggested we should look at using it for triathlon,” Tony Moran, who is the club’s head coach and one of the Tri Bramley Baths founding members, said. “Because of the nature of the baths and the inclusivity that is really engrained in everything we do I only really envisaged it originally as being a springboard for people to try out triathlon, see if it’s for them and then look to pass them on to Leeds and Bradford Tri.
“The club started off like that but then with the support of the regional manager and regional committee we decided to become an affiliated club because we were already thinking about GO TRI’s and so the idea of what the club should be changed. Rather than people wanting to use Tri BB as a springboard, they really enjoyed what we did and the efforts we went to make it inclusive, so it’s grown from there.”
The club now has over 60 members who take part in the club’s offering of weekly swim and strength and conditioning sessions, as well as a weekly triathlon session for juniors.
Club Chair, Simon Price-Jones, joined soon after the club first formed and, having been in Roundhay Park supporting the club’s triathletes during the AJ Bell World Triathlon Championship Series weekend, this year will see Price-Jones take to the Leeds start line for the first time.
“It’s a massive weekend for triathlon in Leeds and it’s such a special event,” Price-Jones said. “It’s always a fantastic event to be a part of, whether that’s as a spectator or as a participant, and it’s an event I’m going to experience for the first time as a participant this year which I’m really looking forward to.
“The eyes of the world are on the city, and you always want the city to look good and when you’re competing it feels like you’re part of a massive event and you want to do well for yourself, your club and your city. The whole event is set-up to allow that, it’s really inclusive with the different distances so everyone can be a part of it.”
Looking back ahead of the sixth edition of the event this year, Moran, who has also been a Tri Maker, says the influence and impact of AJ Bell World Triathlon Championship Series Leeds can’t be overstated.
“I don’t think triathlon in Leeds would have been anything like it is now without this event and our club would have probably not got off the ground or have the number of members we have now if we hadn’t had the racing in Leeds,” Moran commented.
“Every year we see people coming in, who are new to the sport, who have entered and are wanting to prepare for Leeds. It’s definitely been an avenue for people getting into triathlon, not only through being inspired by being able to watch the elite athletes up close, but also having the opportunity to race on a very similar course and finishing on the same finish line.”
Last year, 30 of the club’s members took part in the event at Leeds across the different distances, including members taking on their first open water GO TRI and some taking on the standard distance for the first time.
“We’re always well represented as a club and the fact they’ve got those clubmates, whether that’s in the race itself or supporting from the barriers, it does really push each other on,” Price-Jones said.
“The whole club just seems to get behind the event. It’s almost like an individual team event for us a club. Because even for those guys not racing for one reason or another, we go down, we spectate, we cheer them on and hopefully take some embarrassing photos. There’s a real club spirit around the day.”
Entries are still open for AJ Bell 2022 World Triathlon Championship Series Leeds here, with all participants getting the same blue carpet finish-line experience across the event weekend (11-12 June 2022).
Spectators are invited to come along and soak up the sporting action in Roundhay Park, with opportunities to volunteer at the event also now open for registration for anyone wanting to get involved.
British Triathlon has also launched its biggest ever giveaway, offering affiliated clubs the opportunity to win coaching sessions, a £1000 cash prize and more based on entries to AJ Bell 2022 World Triathlon Championship Series Leeds. Find out more here.