Alistair Brownlee and Nikki Bartlett conquer Helvellyn Triathlon

Epic, Iconic, Extreme, Brutal, Bonkers - just a few of the terms expressed after the PTO-supported Helvellyn Triathlon on Sunday.

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From Hamburg to Helvellyn…

It’s fair to say that there was more than a little sceptism late last week in some quarters, when my preview featured the plans of Alistair Brownlee to race at the World Triathlon Hamburg on Saturday afternoon, and then immediately fly back (and race) at the Helvellyn Triathlon.

I had it on (very) good authority this was more than just talk!

Sunday’s race in the Lake District has been around for many years (Alistair actually won it 13 years ago), and its profile and interest gained a late-notice boost in exposure, with the link-up with the Professional Triathletes Organisation. With a prize pot of $15,000 added into the mix, the limited racing opportunities attracted a ‘Battle of the Brits’ Pro/Elite field, set to take on a course that is far removed from the typical middle distance event many of these athletes are used to.

Check out this video clip of Joe Skipper on the ‘run’ course, for just a flavour of what they faced.

To add a little extra twist to the performance aspect of the race, the women would receive a calculated head-start of 28:03, and then the first-across-the-line, would determine the order and allocation of the 10 prize cheques.

Once the cold water was swam in, “The Struggle” ascended on the bike and the wind and rain of the ascent / descent of Helvellyn completed, it was Alistair Brownlee who was first back, followed a coupe of minutes later with a sprint finish between George Goodwin and Jack Willis. Once the time trial start differences were factored in, George – just – got the nod on that one for overall second place.

A super strong performance from Nikki Bartlett to be the first woman home, with Ruth Astle in second. Having trained so hard for Embrunman (cancelled) and then IRONMAN Italy (cancelled), it is clear that the IRONMAN Lanzarote winner from 2019 is in some fine fitness right now.

Athlete feedback has been fantastic, with the ‘results’ element being almost secondary in this case.

The appreciation of racing, experiencing something very different, the suffering, and just being back in a competitive environment seems to be the primary feedback. Seeing friends and competitors for the first time in many months and the appreciation of the efforts of the organisers (TriHard Events), and the partnership with the PTO, is a consistent theme running through social media post-race comments. And that’s even from those that are not used to finishing outside of the podium, let alone the top-10, well and truly beaten by the course!

Judging by the comments and the volume of traffic around the event of Twitter yesterday, there was certainly plenty of interest from the UK triathlon community.

On that basis alone, that link up with the PTO has probably gained column inches and exposure beyond what may have been forecast. It has certainly been well appreciated by its athlete members.

Helvellyn Triathlon – Sunday 6th September 2020
1-mile swim / 38-mile bike / 9-mile run


1st – Alistair Brownlee – 3:16:28
2nd – George Goodwin – 3:18:14
3rd – Jack Willis – 3:18:16
4th – Elliot Smales – 3:21:43
5th – Jack Hindle – 3:32:42


1st – Nikki Bartlett – 3:51:05
2nd – Ruth Astle – 4:02:39
3rd – India Lee – 4:08:01
4th – Lucy Hall – 4:08:48
5th – Tara Grosvenor – 4:15:53

OVERALL (Calculated based on a 28:03 adjustment** / deduction for the women)

1st – Alistair Brownlee – 3:16:28 ($3,000)
2nd – George Goodwin – 3:18:14 ($2,250)
3rd – Jack Willis – 3:18:16 ($1,750)
4th – Elliot Smales – 3:21:43 ($1,500)
5th – Nikki Bartlett – 3:23:02 ** (1,375
6th – Jack Hindle – 3:32:42 ($625)
7th – Lewis Byram – 3:34:05 ($500)
8th – Ruth Astle – 3:34:05 ** ($500)
9th – Sam Wade – 3:35:16 ($500)
10th – Pete Dyson – 3:36:33 ($500)

John Levison
Written by
John Levison
TRI247's Chief Correspondent, John has been involved in triathlon for well over 30 years, 15 of those writing on these pages, whilst he can also be found commentating for events across the UK.
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