Last Saturday saw the Luz Triathlon take place and Dave was there to capture it for you; so we thought we would also find out more about the event from the organisers Tom Longhurst and John Hill.
The first triathlon to take place here in the Algarve was in Praia da Luz in April 2014, and this year was their 3rd Luz Triathlon and 4th Triathlon that they have organised. We asked Tom why they started this and he replied: “John and I are keen sports men but had never done a Triathlon, with a few months of research we decide to run a very small event for some locals in our home town of Luz.” Things have certainly grown since that first triathlon which had 90 entries, this year’s event had 250 competitors, split into two races – the Sprint and Olympic distances, organised by their now established company ‘Algarve Triathlons’
There is obviously a lot of work that goes on before the day to get this event organised, and even more people behind the scenes ensuring that things run smoothly. Tom was quick to mention that the crew are all volunteers and invaluable to the success of the company, and mentioned that Jeff Hurst has been with them from the beginning and is now a huge help in the course layout and is head of the Volunteer group. They also have the Lagos Walking group, which help with all the triathlons, and have a huge amount of experience amongst the group. There are many others – including Nick Rogers, Debbie and Craig Mackay, who all help to make the event the success that it is.
There are two events that run together on the day – the Sprint involves a 750m swim, 20km bike ride then a 5km run. The Olympics is double the distance with a 1500m swim, 40km bike and 10km run. Not for the faint-hearted … although the competitors on the day all seemed to be enjoying themselves!
Most people enter the event as an individual, but you can enter a relay team, which must consist of 3 team members male, female or mixed, and each member of the team will compete one discipline. As Tom explained “The Luz race has come to be known as a great race, so we do get serious athletes competing, but the heart of Algarve Triathlons is ‘Fun’. It’s the way we started it.”
He continued: “We have some of Portugal top guys and girls competing, it’s the beauty of Triathlons that in the same race you can have a 1st timer racing alongside a Pro.”
The event is also a great way to raise money for a worthwhile cause – and we certainly discovered no greater cause than to raise money to thank the hospital that has helped your own child – as in the case of the wonderful Lewis and his mom and dad John and Donna whom Dave had the pleasure of meeting on Saturday – they were surrounded by a large group of their friends and family and they were all raising money for Alder Hey Children’s Charity:
22 friends and family from the UK travelled to the Algarve for the event and joined up with Portuguese friends to compete in the Sprint Triathlon. Both individuals and also relay teams competed to raise funds for Alder Hey Children’s Charity. The hospital is very close to their hearts as they have provided over 2 years of help and support through major surgeries for their son Lewis, who was born with a rare genetic disorder called Apert Syndrome.
We confess we had not heard of Apert syndrome before, which affects 1 in 65,000 children and is caused by a mutant gene during pregnancy. This causes the under development of the skull bones, narrowing of airways, and fused fingers and toes prior to birth. Lewis has already had several major operations including skull reconstruction and hand surgeries, and his operations will continue well into his teen years.
His family are no strangers to the Algarve as mom Donna lived and worked here for 11 years in various roles with Thomson Holidays (now Tui). John and Donna met in Albufeira as he came over to live here and stayed for 5 years working as a diving instructor, and also had a bar called ‘Garglers’ near The Strip area of Albufeira. They left in 2005 to head home to start a family. Some of the competitors with them on Saturday were from the ‘New Dubliner’ and ‘The Cockerel Country Kitchen’ in Albufeira so the links are still strong here!
You can read more about Lewis’ story via this link ‘Big things Ahead for this Remarkable Boy’ – we love the line at the end of their page:
“We’re not afraid of what lies ahead. We wouldn’t change Lewis for the world but would happily change the world for Lewis.”
Their target is £7,000 and they are almost there – if you are interested in donating – you can click this link to their Just Giving Page
Back to the main event – and all those well-wishers and crowds of people watching or reading this that might be interested in competing in the future – so we asked Tom what advice he would give to someone considering entering in the future? He replied: “The sprint race is a very good entry distance and with a few months’ training most people can do it. If they need any more advice or help we are always willing to offer it. Along the Algarve there are loads of Triathlon clubs opening, all of which are friendly and very approachable.”
Next year’s Luz race will be on the same weekend in April and the next Sagres race will be staged later in 2017.
There is even more great Charity support from the company too as they support the Neci disabled school and help centre for parents in Luz. As Tom explains: “It’s an amazing charity and local to Luz. It has been a privilege to get to know everyone there and we hope to keep supporting them in the future.”
We can’t wait for next year’s event already – anyone can come along and watch and also support them – as Tom describes: “Yes we welcome any support, it’s what makes Luz so special, and the crowds come out every year and really make the day special. We welcome any fund-raising and we are happy to help anyone who wants to promote their charity through our FB page.”
So there you have it – a great day out – a brilliantly well-organised event that helps to put the Algarve on the Triathlon map – and a fabulous way to raise money for worthwhile causes. We are proud and happy to be able to support them in our own way via our Blog, and also by helping to photograph the event and offering all of our images free of charge to download for the competitors.
You can view the whole album of images that Dave took on the day via this link:
And you can see a small selection of his images here via this album below – click on any image to start the slideshow: