Meet the tri clubs #1
Willesden Triathlon Club, London
While Willesden Triathlon Club might be one of London’s smallest triathlon clubs, it aims to be the friendliest – it even has its own beer. Hanna Andersson meets Kristin Duffy, founder and head coach at WTC.
How did Willesden Triathlon Club start?
I first started the club in late 2011/early 2012, prior to the Olympics. British Triathlon wanted a club in the Brent Council area and, with support from Sportivate, the initial aim was to reach 16-25 year olds – the age range many stop doing sport. I answered the call and the club grew out of that, it was the first triathlon club in Brent.
How many members are in the club?
We have around 40 members. Our oldest member is in her 60s and we’ve had as young as 16-years-old. We’re nearly 50/50 gender split, with a slightly higher percentage of women.
What is your weekly routine?
We train formally on Tuesday evenings, when we do both swimming and running. Everyone trains together, and I ensure that everyone finishes together. Even our quickest athletes are really welcoming and look out for their fellow teammates.
How important is the gear?
Not very. I encourage people to just start, and then they can spend money if they discover they like triathlon (which they usually do!). We have members with the newest bikes, as well as members who ride the same entry-level or hybrid bike to work and to compete. The latest thing has been a running power meter. But to start you need much less fancy equipment!
Do you have a star athlete?
We have had a few athletes qualifying for the GB national team, and one for Ireland. But our biggest success is in the improvement of members. We've had members that, before joining, couldn’t run or swim, now they’re doing full triathlons. That’s success! You don’t have to do Ironman, there are several shorter distances. I’m proud when members compete at any distance.
Who goes the extra mile for the club?
We did have one of our members, Graham Davies, win the BTF triathlon volunteer of the year. He joined the committee and immediately jumped in with ideas – and action. He’s also our beer expert.
Yes, we brew our own beer. We are really into the social aspects and nearly everyone (especially triathletes!) loves beer! We’ve played with the recipe and come up with some really good flavours. You can find it at Beer and Burger in Willesden Green.
What kind of beer is it?
So, we have been experimenting a lot, but I think the best one is our Lost in Transition Lager.
It sounds like you have a great community?
Yes! Definitely. We are not huge, but that’s nice. We have talked about expanding the club, but I never want to get to the point where I don’t know everyone’s name. I want to keep track of our members goals and progress. We have a Christmas party every year where we give out prizes, like most improved and Lost in Transition (hence the beer name), an award for the person who seems to take the longest changing for the run at training. We also award our club championship winners.
Every year we pick one race, somewhere near London, and encourage as many as possible to race. That’s our club championship and the winner is recognised.
Where and when will you have your next Club Championship?
Hercules Festival of Sport in Northwood in May.
Do you organise any races as a club?
Twice a year. One in Spring and one in Autumn. They are also small, like our club, and for all levels. It’s funny because the number is usually around 40, just like our members. We try to make it memorable. We make cakes that we offer at the finish line, which the racers love. Once, we didn’t arrange our normal race, I got tons of emails asking when we were putting it on next. Though the races aren’t big, people remember them.
Anything else that is unique about your club?
So there’s the beer… and I really do believe we are the friendliest club in London. Everyone should feel welcome. You get two hours of coached training every week, for only £10 (or less if you come regularly) per session – quite a bargain in London. I should also say that we won British Triathlon club of the year for London in 2015. We loved that!
Nice work, thanks Willesden Triathlon Club.
To find out more, visit https://willesdentriathlon.co.uk