Hundreds of people came to the Montgomery Canal on Saturday 18 May for the annual Montgomery Canal Triathlon organised by the Friends of the Montgomery Canal.

This annual event supports the restoration of the canal and involves:

  • a 17-mile cycling section from Newtown to Pool Quay, including five road crossings where the canal was blocked after it was closed
  • 11 miles on foot to Morton, south of Oswestry, with two more road crossings at blockages on the A483 and three more at minor roads
  • and a final 7 mile section by canoe to finish near the junction with the Llangollen Canal, with the need to carry canoes past four locks which they may not use.

This year the event was being filmed as part of a series of programmes on the Welsh canals to be shown later in the year on BBC Wales TV – the Montgomery, Llangollen, Monmouthshire & Brecon and Swansea Canals. The programmes are to feature rugby legend Sir Gareth Edwards and his wife Maureen as they visit each of the canals.

Sir Gareth Edwards, assisted by the Mayor of Newtown & Llanllwchaearn, Cllr Sue Newham, started the cyclists at Newtown at 8.30am. He then followed the event at the changeover points, finally greeting the weary entrants at the end of the canoe section.

245 people booked a place on the Triathlon, many local to the canal, but others coming from further afield. In addition over 85 marshals, drawn from the membership of the Friends of the Montgomery Canal and their friends, were on hand at changeover points, and assisting at locks and road crossings.

Christine Palin, chairman of the Friends of the Montgomery Canal said, “The Montgomery Canal Triathlon is a wonderful event which people come back to year after year. We also have new entrants of course, and this year as well as local teams other entrants came hundreds of miles to take part. Among those who completed all three sections were more than one family with a child under ten years old, and at least one who took part was over eighty!

“This year we had a truly international flavour as we offered entrants the chance to have their photograph taken, to be emailed to them, as they passed over the border from Wales into England and even more exciting was that we learned that a family had come from Switzerland for the weekend especially to take part in all three sections. They live in the Alps above Lausanne. They were delighted with the canal and its scenery and thought that the Triathlon was a brilliant idea to showcase the canal and its benefits to the community.

“This year the first participant finished in an amazing 4 hours and 13 minutes but others were arriving over five hours later. But that doesn’t matter, because our Triathlon is very much a fun event attracting groups of family or friends and at the end they tell us what a delightful event it has been.

“Obviously there is a serious side to the Triathlon. We want people to learn about the Montgomery Canal and the area it runs through, and to see what has been achieved and what still has to be done to take the restoration forward. The event raises money for the next stages of restoration: though we don’t yet know how much was raised we were presented by a cheque for £1,000 by the team from the Oswestry and Welshpool branches of the West Bromwich Building Society, and we are delighted with their support.”

The organisers are grateful for help from so many businesses and organisations. The event was greatly assisted by a £2,000 grant from Tesco’s ‘Bags of Help’ scheme through their Newtown Branch. Other local businesses and organisations which provided help, support or sponsorship were Red Ridge Outdoor Centre, Arthog Outreach Outdoor Education Centre, NiBs, McDonald Landrover, Newtown and Welshpool Scouts, Morrisons, Sainsburys and Welshpool’s Tesco. There was generous assistance from Amberon, Bacchante Crafts, Wristbands Plus, Countyloos, Morton PCC. Finally, the event could not have been held without the help of Tanat Valley Coaches of Llanrhaeadr-ym-Mochnant and St. John Ambulance of Newtown.