VIDEO: Heroic novices celebrate finishing gruelling amateur Leeds Triathlon

HUNDREDS of amateur triathletes are celebrating completing the world triathlon route in Leeds.

Crowds cheer the females through Millenium Square in the 2016 ITU World Triathlon Leeds.  Picture Tony Johnson
Crowds cheer the females through Millenium Square in the 2016 ITU World Triathlon Leeds. Picture Tony Johnson

Novices took to Roundhay Lake and the streets of Leeds city centre for the open race for amateurs which started early this morning.

The two-day Columbia Threadneedle World Triathlon saw the world’s finest triathletes and almost 6,000 amateurs take to the streets of Leeds on the same course on the same day for the first time.

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Spectator Gary Cooper said: “There’s a great atmosphere in Leeds today, it’s terrific. The crowd really got behind the triathletes.

“The Leeds crowds are fantastic. They are obviously rooting for the Brownlee brothers but they’ve been cheering everyone on all day.”

Martin Blount added: “Leeds could host another event like this. The atmosphere was amazing.”

Crowds cheer the females through Millenium Square in the 2016 ITU World Triathlon Leeds. Picture Tony Johnson

Hannah Wilson, 34, of Leeds, finished the sprint distance in two hours.

She said: “It’s my fourth triathlon and I’m very happy with my time.

“The swim was great, the bike seemed to go really fast and the run was pretty tough.

“It was great though. In the city centre there was a good buzz with kids waving and shouting your name because it’s on your race bib.

Age Group competitors finish in Millennium Square in the support race before WTS race in Leeds. Picture Tony Johnson

“It was a really good atmosphere.”

She added: “I’m going to celebrate with a glass of fizz whilst watching the elites.”

Mum Heather Wilson added: “It’s really exciting and actually watching her go in the lake was phenomenal.

“The organisation is amazing and it’s great for the city. It puts the focus back on Leeds.”

The Finish Iine Millennium Square for the ITU World Triathlon Series 2016 in Leeds

Dad Malcolm Wilson, who was also celebrating his birthday today, added: “It’s a good community feel for the spectators and the people taking part too.”

Two triathlon runners who stayed in Leeds city centre to watch the elite races said: “We really enjoyed it.

“Hopefully we’ll get to do another one soon.

“The atmpspghere is amazing in Leeds today - they should bring more here.”

Geoff Render, 37, of Bramley, suffered two strokes last year and suffers from hyper mobility.

He took part in the race with a specially-adapted trike.

Females cycle through Millenium Square in the 2016 ITU World Triathlon Leeds. Picture Tony Johnson

Speaking to the YEP, he said: “They had to adapt the rules but I used to do triathlons before so I wanted to keep it up.

“It was fun. It feels amazing to be a part of something like this in Leeds.

“You can’t miss an opportunity like that. It’s great for the city.”

Among the novices taking part in the amateur event this morning were the YEP’s own Jonny Brown and Rob Parsons.

Jonny said: “I did it! Managed to complete my first Olympic distance triathlon despite having a mild panic attack in the water, falling off my bike and jogging in treacle.”

The ladies’ race kicked off at 1pm, with the men’s elite event - featuring Leeds’s own Olypic heroes the Brownlee brothers - following at 3.45pm.

The first female finishers are expected to cross the line in Millennium Square at around 3pm.

Around 100,000 spectators are expected to line the city’s streets to cheer on the participants.

One eyewitness in Leeds city centre said: “There is quite a good turnout, and a really buzzy atmosphere here.”

However there was also traffic chaos and several roads in Leeds were closed off for the event.

Spencer Stokes tweeted: “Major traffic congestion on A660/A65 into Leeds due to triathlon. Motorists complain of no diversion signs or advice.”

Lorna Dearlove, also via Twitter, added: “Over an hour stuck in traffic, driving round Leeds, quarter tank of petrol wasted and still can’t get to white rose! Argh!”

Others decribed queuing traffic on the A6120 Leeds Outer Ring Road between the A61 Harrogate Road and A58 Wetherby Road.

Thousands of amateurs took part in the gruelling triathlon course - a 1.5km swim through Waterloo Lake, 41.5km bike ride from Roundhay through Headingley to the city centre and a 10km city run – hours before the elite stars did the same on a similar route.

Females cycle through the city in the 2016 ITU World Triathlon Leeds. Picture Tony Johnson
Crowds cheer the females through Millenium Square in the 2016 ITU World Triathlon Leeds. Picture Tony Johnson
Age Group competitors finish in Millennium Square in the support race before WTS race in Leeds. Picture Tony Johnson
The Finish Iine Millennium Square for the ITU World Triathlon Series 2016 in Leeds
Females cycle through Millenium Square in the 2016 ITU World Triathlon Leeds. Picture Tony Johnson
Females cycle through the city in the 2016 ITU World Triathlon Leeds. Picture Tony Johnson