HUNDREDS of people swam, cycled and ran around Bournemouth with aspirations of competing on the world stage.

Bournemouth International Triathlon returned to the town on Sunday, September 10, with 700 entrants from across the UK and abroad.

The event is a sprint World Championships qualifier event, so the opportunity to represent Team GB in Malaga next year would come to anyone who finished in the top four of their age group category.

Athletes tackle a 750m swim, a 20km bike and 5km run in a sprint triathlon. 

Bournemouth Echo: Mark Walford and Sophie Garbo.

Sophie Garbo, 51, and Mark Walford, 40, travelled from Littlehampton representing Tuff Fitty Tri Club to compete.

Sophie said it was ‘beautiful’ seeing the sunrise as her race got underway with the open water swim in the sea west of Bournemouth pier.

“I think it’s by far the best [triathlon],” Sophie said.

“It feels like a big event, with music playing, when you’re waiting to go there’s somebody talking, it’s really exciting.”

Mark said he thinks he had just done enough to secure his place at the Championships.

“Really good course, really friendly,” he said. “Crystal clear water, swimming seeing the sunrise was beautiful. The bike course was fast and flat and then the run along the seafront was lovely.

“I think I’ve just sneaked in the top four so I think I have just done enough, so really good.”

Bournemouth Echo: Bournemouth International Triathlon.

Gina Graham and Chris Edwards came as a part of Andover Triathlon Club, which had decided to make the race its official sprint triathlon club championships.

Gina said the race was her first sprint distance event and, after a ‘lovely’ swim, it was all going well until she finished the bike leg of the race.

“I got back into transition, and then schoolboy error, I forgot where my bike went and then couldn’t find my running shoes,” she said.

“So I faffed around for about five minutes in transition, and the run was lovely and it started to rain so it was perfect.”

Bournemouth Echo: Event director Kelly Wickens.

Event director Kelly Wickens said: “The event started in 1995, so it’s one of the original triathlons.

“We’ve had people travel from all over the country, but also Denmark, Norway, America, Ireland, so they’ve come from all over.

“We have about 100 volunteer marshals helping us out, which is amazing. We’re raising money for Dorset Air Ambulance.”

Besides the sprint race, competitors could take on a standard triathlon, an Aquabike or an Aquathlon.

To see the event results, visit the Challenging Events website.