Three generations of the same family, including a son and grandson from the South of France, joined nearly 200 people who took part in the annual Montgomery Canal Triathlon on Saturday.
The family was led by a grandfather in his 80s from Uxbridge who was joined by his son and grandson in entering the event, organised by the Friends of the Montgomery Canal with assistance from the Canal & River Trust, which owns the canal.
The grandfather has entered the triathlon many times and was accompanied on one of his previous visits by a grandson from Australia.
The triathlon supports the restoration of the canal and this year involved a 12-mile cycle ride from Newtown to Belan, more than five miles by canoe through the centre of Welshpool and a final 11 miles on foot to Morton, south of Oswestry.
While many of the participants were from Powys and Shropshire, others travelled many miles to join the event, which began at Hafan yr Afon, Open Newtown’s new centre by the River Severn.
Newtown’s Mayor Cllr John Byrne, assisted by the Montgomery Town Crier Sue Blower, waved away 170 cyclists and it was only just over three-and-a-quarter hours later that the first entrant ran across the finish line at Morton. Others finished up to five hours later.
Christine Palin, Friends of the Montgomery Canal chairman, explained that the triathlon appeals to a range of people, from families to serious competitors.
“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,” she said. “It is a big effort by the Friends of the Montgomery Canal, both the organising team and more than 100 volunteers who help on the day with transport and managing locks and road crossings.
“The route showed participants sections of the canal that have been restored and are open for use and others still to be restored.
“Our visitors saw 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 for residents and visitors to enjoy whether on the water or using the towpath.
“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.
“For years, we have been working to a restoration plan that takes account of the canal’s special place in our community. This includes valuable flora and fauna, one of the best collections of canal-age locks, bridges and aqueducts and opportunities for relaxation and wellbeing on the towpath or visiting our special canalside nature reserves.
“Over the years, the Friends of the Montgomery Canal have given more than £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 thanked Red Ridge Outdoor Centre, Arthog Outreach Outdoor Education Centre, NiBs, McDonald Automotive, Montgomery Water, Welshpool’s Morrisons and Tesco stores, CRT’s Welshpool Volunteer Towpath Taskforce (TRAMPS) and Welshpool Canoe Club for their support or sponsorship.
Amberon – Mid West Wales, Bacchante Crafts, Wristbands Plus, K&S Toilets, Cookson Travel of Welshpool, and St. John Ambulance of Newtown also assisted the event.
The Friends’ next event is a Coracle Fun Day on Saturday, July 8 from 10am to 2pm at the Town Wharf, Church St. Welshpool.
The Montgomery Canal Forum, organised by the Montgomery Waterway Restoration Trust, will be held on Wednesday, June 21 at 2.30pm, hosted by Aico, Maesbury Road, Oswestry.
The meeting, open to the public, will feature restoration works , including the reopening of the canal to Crickheath and UK Government Levelling-Up Fund support in Powys.