The Montgomery Canal Triathlon has been deemed a great success as people came to our area on 20th May for the 2023 Triathlon organised by the Friends of the Montgomery Canal with assistance from the Canal & River Trust.
This annual Triathlon supports the restoration of the canal and this year involved:
• a 12-mile cycle ride from Newtown to Belan, south of Welshpool
• 5½ miles by canoe through the centre of Welshpool
• and a final 11 miles on foot to Morton, south of Oswestry.
About 190 people joined the event and while many were from Powys and Shropshire, others had come many miles to join the event, including one over 80 accompanied by his son and grandson from the south of France.
For the start 170 cyclists gathered at Hafan yr Afon, Open Newtown’s new centre by the River Severn to be started by the town’s Mayor Cllr John Byrne assisted by the Montgomery Town Crier Sue Blower. It was only just over 3¼ hours later that the first entrant ran across the finish line at Morton – others were arriving up to 5 hours later.
Christine Palin, Chairman of the Friends of the Montgomery Canal said, “The Triathlon is very popular with families and the more seriously competitive and we are always delighted that so many come from far and wide to take part, often bringing friends to join in for the first time. It is a big effort by the Friends of the Montgomery Canal, both the organising team and over a hundred volunteers who help on the day with transport and managing locks and road crossings.
“The route along the canal showed participants sections of the canal that have been restored and are open for use and others where the canal still has to be restored. There are a number of road crossings, blocked in the years of dereliction, which are quite difficult to manage: it will be really great when the bridges are rebuilt and boaters, ramblers and anglers can cross under the road in safety.
“There was a new bridge at the finish, a lift bridge for a farm crossing, which was across the canal to allow our entrants to check in at the finish. Proceedings were interrupted when a narrowboat came round the corner after visiting the new basin at Crickheath and had to open the bridge to go through. As we record how long entrants take at each stage, our timekeepers had to record the time of arrival at the bridge rather than the time of crossing it.
“Our visitors saw too what a lovely area the canal passes through – some actually told us how pleased they were to discover this. Obviously the whole purpose of restoring the canal is to create somewhere that local residents and visitors can enjoy whether on the water or using the towpath. For years we have been working to a restoration plan that takes account of the canal’s special place in our community with valuable flora and fauna, one of the best collections of canal-age locks, bridges and aqueducts and opportunities for relaxation and well-being on the towpath or visiting our special canalside nature reserves.
“This year we had to change the date for the Triathlon. We had planned to run the event on 6th May but had to change when the Coronation was announced. But it rained on 6 May and we had a gorgeous sunny day for the event.
“Over the years the Friends of the Montgomery Canal have given over £30,000 for the restoration and we hope we will be able to make another contribution from this year’s event – only made possible by the contributions of our army of volunteers of course.”
The organisers are grateful for help from many businesses and organisations which provided help, support or sponsorship including Red Ridge Outdoor Centre, Arthog Outreach Outdoor Education Centre, NiBs, McDonald Automotive, Montgomery Water, Welshpool’s Morrisons and Tesco, CRT’s Welshpool Volunteer Towpath Taskforce (aka TRAMPS) and Welshpool Canoe Club.
There was generous assistance for the event from Amberon – Mid West Wales, Bacchante Crafts, Wristbands Plus, K&S Toilets, Cookson Travel of Welshpool, and St. John Ambulance of Newtown.
The next event for the Friends of the Montgomery Canal is a Coracle Fun Day on Saturday 8 July, (10am – 2pm) at the Town Wharf, Church St. Welshpool SY21 7AN. This is a new event for the Friends and will give the opportunity to try out one of these unique craft with tuition, buoyancy aids and safety canoes in attendance.
The Montgomery Canal Forum (organised by the Montgomery Waterway Restoration Trust) will be at 2.30pm on Wednesday 21 June, hosted by Aico, Maesbury Road, Oswestry SY10 8NR. The meeting, open to the public, will feature restoration works in Shropshire, including the reopening of the canal to Crickheath and work to extend that section, and in Powys under the UK Government Levelling-Up Fund.