1,500 athletes to take up challenge

Dorset Echo: IN GEAR: Coun Ian Bruce on a quad bike with event partners IN GEAR: Coun Ian Bruce on a quad bike with event partners

MORE than 900 athletes have already signed up to take part in Challenge Weymouth, one of the country’s top triathlon events.

Organisers revealed details at the launch of the borough’s events programme for the year.

It will be one of several high-profile events hoping to give the area’s economy a boost during 2014.

It is the first time the sporting event will be held in Dorset and organisers say it is set to be bigger and better than ever before – attracting an expected 1,500 athletes and an extra 5,000 visitors.

It is hoped to be a real boost for the resort’s economy with Challenge UK organisers urging local bands, businesses and schools to get involved as the eyes of the sporting world turn to the borough once again.

Event director Alan Rose told the Echo huge numbers from Weymouth and the surrounding areas have already signed up.

The event, which will be held on September 14, is also attracting some of the top names in UK triathlons as well as entrants from overseas.

Places are still available for the Challenge Weymouth iron distance route which involves a 3.8km swim in Weymouth Bay, a 180km bike ride and a 42km run along the seafront and through the town centre. There is also the option to take part in the half triathlon.

Mr Rose said: “This year we are well on track to getting a record number of 1,500 athletes involved.”

Courses will include the ‘historic beauty’ of the Jurassic coastline and rural villages as well as passing along The Esplanade and harbour in Weymouth.

Weymouth was chosen as this year’s location due to its capacity to host the expanding event and following on from the legacy of the Olympic and Paralympic sailing events. Businesses are being invited to get involved in the ‘real party atmosphere’ on the day by playing live music and offering support zones for athletes.

The route also includes the ‘Beer Mile’ which will involve many food and drink outlets around Weymouth Harbour.

Mr Rose added: “We want to create a really fun day out for everyone. Our main aim is to make sure that the athletes have an amazing experience but it would be great if local bands, businesses, community groups and schools got involved.

“For example, we could get pupils cheering at schools along the route and have local businesses playing music as the athletes pass by.”

In previous years, the event has been held in Henley-on-Thames, attracting 1,350 athletes in 2013.

Any businesses, schools or community groups that wish to get involved should email philippa@justracinguk.com

The 90km bike route will start and end in Weymouth heading up to Dorchester, along to Puddletown and Bere Regis before cycling down through Bovington, along to Wareham and back through Wool and on to Weymouth.

The running course begins at Lodmoor Country Park, Weymouth, before going along The Esplanade towards the harbour, which marks the start of ‘beer mile’, and back through St Mary Street before rejoining The Esplanade back towards Lodmoor County Park.

This completes one lap and will be repeated four times.

Those completing the half will do two laps.

To sign up or find out more about the route visit challengetriuk.com

LEISURE chiefs are preparing for a year of fun, excitement and celebration.

Weymouth and Portland Borough Council’s 2014 festivals and events programme has been launched with representatives claiming the area’s reputation for hosting quality events will be further enhanced this year.

The programme includes more than 260 events including world and national sailing championships, live music, art and sports events, community fetes and fair and many seasonal favourites.

Sport representatives, councillors and residents gathered at Weymouth Pavilion for the official launch of this year’s programme.

Events get off to a sporting start next month with the Topper Winter Regatta at the Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy (WPNSA). Later in the month, the borough will also host the quad bike racing event, Dickies Quad Beach Cross on Weymouth Beach.

The borough’s major events are back in 2014 including Best of Dorset Show in March, Weymouth Kite Festival in May, Wessex Folk Festival and Armed Forces Celebrations in June, Dorset Seafood Festival and Spirit of Portland in July.

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