BOURNEMOUTH beach provided the perfect backdrop as 407 athletes competed in the Bournemouth International Triathlon on Sunday morning.

Hosted by Challenging Events, an events management company based in Southampton, the competition saw athletes compete in a range of disciplines, from a 2.5km and 5km swim event, to sprint triathlons and standard triathlons.

The first event kicked off at 7am with other events starting at intervals afterwards.

Event Director Kelly Wickens said: “The Bournemouth International Triathlon has been running for 26 years but this is the first time that it has been hosted here because of the Smugglers Cove golf course that has been installed next to the pier

“This competition is steeped in history. On our Facebook page, we have the results from the first race in 1997 and there were four Olympians that competed that day.

Competitors in the sprint and standard triathlon started on the west side of Bournemouth Pier where they swam laps of a course in the see. They then cycled to Ringwood and the edge of the New Forest before coming back to the beach to finish with a run along the seafront and up over the cliffs.

Kelly continued: “I decided to run it because I am a passionate athlete myself and I am passionate about getting other people get into triathlon style events

“We’re quite a small organisation. My husband helps run it with me, he is an ex police officer, so he deals with all the health and safety stuff and the crew are all family and friends.

“We also have the 1st Wessex Scouts that have helped us out with the marshalling of the cycling and at the finish line. At the end of the event, we will donate some money to them as a way to say thank you. We’ve helped other local community groups in the past by donating to them for marshalling as well and it’s something we want to continue doing.

With the event already part of the Triathlon England South West Region Standard Champs, Challenging Events are looking to expand the Bournemouth International Triathlon further by hosting it as in European or Olympic qualifier.

“We have put in an application to try and get European or Olympic qualifier here at Bournemouth,” said Kelly. “Most of the events at the moment are in the Midlands and they stay away from the sea swimming because of the nature of the beast.

“We think this is the jewel of the crown for the South West, it’s a blue flag beach that has been award the best in the country on TripAdvisor and it would be brilliant for local businesses and the area.”