On first impressions and via the television coverage, the Leeds ITU World Triathlon event appeared to be a great advert for British Triathlon and the city of Leeds. However countless athletes who competed in the age-group event before the elite races on Sunday have complained of poor organisation, with some forced to wait for hours before they could collect their bags containing warm clothes, mobile phones and cash, from transition.
While it was a great day for British triathlon in the pro ranks, with a Brownlee 1-2 in the men’s race and a podium for Vicky Holland in the women’s, age-groupers were left to feel second best, as reports of the transition areas being unsafe were reported on social media the day before the event. Athletes spotted hazards underfoot such as glass and nails and no carpeting was in place to protect bare feet and bike tyres.
Numerous athletes also complained about the baggage collection system. The vans for transporting bags to and from the transition areas were reportedly not big enough to take all luggage to the city centre collection points, meaning later waves were sent back to the swim venue at Roundhay Park (a 30min shuttle bus journey) before having to wait even longer to collect belongings while missing the elite races. Many complained of being cold and frustrated after finishing.
Mike Higgins said: “I was annoyed and disappointed. I quickly realised I was going to miss most of the women’s (elite) race. My second race of the day was to get to Roundhay and back in the time Gwen, Non and Flora could do a 40km bike and a 10 km run if I was going to see the finish!
“If a van can take three boxes and a box can take sixty bags and you have 6,000 competitors with two bags, and a maximum of eight vans, and each journey takes about one hour return and needs some loading time, I worked out that would take 14 hours to transport everything – it’s no wonder we were waiting for hours!”