BUCS: Britain’s most competitive triathlon? Quite Possibly.

Chief Correspondent

Close racing for British Student Championship honours

Ok, so technically, we can pretty much take it as read that the “most difficult’ race to win in the UK this year will be the Columbia Threadneedle World Triathlon Leeds. But, on a domestic level, very little comes close each season to the narrow margins and depth of competition at the BUCS (British Universities and Colleges Sport) Sprint Distance Championships.

Held this past weekend, the BUCS Champs typically attracts the vast majority of the best Junior and Under-23 talent in the UK, with many of those athlete currently combining their triathlon ambitions with academics.

The 2017 Championships seems to have followed the script, with the the top five men and women all finishing well within 40 seconds of each other over the non-drafting, 750m / 25km / 5km course in Calne. Home to the Brownlee brothers, Leeds University came out on top in the team race for both men and women.

The championship titles went to Matthew Nelson (University of Hull) and Bronwen Owen (Leeds Beckett University), in both cases their winning margins were just 20 seconds over Sam Dickinson (University of Leeds) and Grace Hobbs (University of Leeds), with the podium places completed by George Goodwin (University of Stirling) and Elle Twentyman (University of Bath).


I asked men’s race winner, Matthew Nelson, about his race:

“It was non-draft with a staggered swim start to try and reduce / eliminate drafting on the bike. But, it meant we didn’t really know who we were racing so it was basically in individual time trial from start to finish. I knew I was swimming and riding pretty well after swimming a 4:19 for 400 free recently and following good critical power tests. On the day I just tried to swim as relaxed as possible.

“I worked really hard on the rolling bike course and I was passing people throughout the ride so knew I was going pretty well. But my legs were pretty trashed at the end of the time trial so just hung on over the 5k run. And then it was an anxious wait for everyone to finish for the final results. But I was delighted with the result. Only athlete from Hull Uni taking part, was a really good win for me in a field which was pretty stacked! Was just like an elite field turning out to play…”.

The key to Bronwen’s success in the women’s race was a blistering 16:55 run split, that was almost a full minute quicker than any of the other women on the day.

On her victory, she told me:

“Just happy to be back fit and racing really, because I had a lot of injury problems last year! I really enjoyed the event as well because it’s not often I get to race non-draft races.”

BUCS Sprint Triathlon Championships, St Mary’s School, Calne – 30th April 2017
750m (pool) / 25km (non-drafting) / 5km


1st – Bronwen Owen (Leeds Beckett University) – 1:13:15
2nd – Grace Hobbs (University of Leeds) – 1:13:35
3rd – Elle Twentyman (University of Bath) – 1:13:39
4th – Hannah Howitt (University of Stirling) – 1:13:48
5th – Sophie Alden (Loughborough University) – 1:13:52


1st – Matthew Nelson (University of Hull) – 1:03:19
2nd – Sam Dickinson (University of Leeds) – 1:03:39
3rd – George Goodwin (University of Stirling) – 1:03:43
4th – Alex Chantler-Mayne (University of Bath) – 1:03:44
5th – Alastair Rogers (University of Leeds) – 1:03:46



University of Leeds won the Team Championships:

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