Athletics

Army's First Mass Sporting Event Since COVID-19 Outbreak Held

A triathlon event in Leicestershire saw husband and wife battle it out on the track.

The British Army has held its first mass participation sporting event since the coronavirus outbreak.

A triathlon race in Leicestershire saw athletes of all experience invited to compete.

The action also saw Kat Matthews battle it out on the course with her husband Mark.

The event at the Mallory Park motor racing circuit saw just under 100 competitors sign up for the race.

Staff Sergeant Sam Littlewood explained how Army Triathlon had been keeping busy during lockdown.

He said: "Within the Army Triathlon Association, we’ve had a really good cohort online using platforms such as Zwift and being able to train together, do charity events together and online virtual racing.

"It’s been really well prepped throughout COVID-19."

He was aiming for a top 10 finish, but managed to come in seventh place and he thinks he was well-prepared for the contest.

He said: "I raced 10 days ago up in Lake Windermere so I’ve managed to get in a bit of cold water training before jumping into this lake.

"It was still a little bit of a shock, but a really good race, and having the closed circuit and laps really helps out, especially with the supporters here.

"Obviously no spectators, but it is still good to get support from the athletes waiting to go."

Kat Matthews is one of the military's leading triathletes but could she beat her husband Mark?

Kat Matthews was favourite for the win but had to fight off a challenge from an unlikely source.

She says credit for the event must go to the organisers.

She said: "It’s been incredibly well organised. Everyone is socially distancing to the absolute max.

"There’s one-way systems, there's masks, sanitisers and gloves. They can’t do more.

"It’s been a really nice camaraderie as well, despite that. There’s good chat. Everybody is supporting each other.

“"t’s nice to be back and it’s about enjoying the race and coming together as an association within the Army Sport rather than just getting out and winning.

"I came for the win but I knew there was going to be some good competition and I think I have been pipped by a few seconds."

Despite her attempts, she was beaten to the win due to a four-second gap.

The winner? Mark, her husband.

He said: "I do know I have beaten my wife by four seconds which is essentially all that matters.

"We don’t really have a competitive relationship sporting-wise. She’s getting better and better and I’m getting worse and worse.

"It’s a vested interest in me not to be competitive. 

"It’s lovely to get out and race. I didn’t think we’d get one on this year.

"It’s really nice seeing the team, seeing the guys and seeing the variety that the Army always brings.

"These events are always more social than your average triathlon and the venue they have chosen to use here is brilliant."