Ponteland High School pupil congratulated by Morpeth professional triathlete after finishing The Reason To Disability Triathlon
The annual event, jointly held at David Lloyd Club and Paddy Freeman’s Park in Newcastle, continues to grow in popularity and this year was the largest to date, with almost 50 competitors, including 15-year-old Rosie Bell from Ponteland.
The competitors, aged from nine years old to adult, have a wide variety of disabilities and were able to complete a traditional triathlon by swimming, running and cycling with support and specially adapted equipment.
Organised by triathletes Jo Shalcross and Tracey Sample, triathlon began with just a handful of competitors and has grown year on year.
Shalcross said: “When this started it was just for a few children that I coached and then I realised there was such a need for it. Tracey came on board and we started to grow it together as a team.
“It’s a huge community now and very special because when the competitors come together you can see the friendships that have grown over the years.”
Shalcross was first inspired to organise a triathlon tailored to the individual needs of children in the North East after seeing a child with disabilities enjoying the event in Hawaii.
Rosie, who goes to Ponteland High School, has cerebral palsy and dystonia. This was her second triathlon and she said she did it to ‘prove a point’.
She added: “I don’t like the fact that we can’t do things. We can, but adapted, we can still do it.”
Kerry Bell, Rosie’s mum, said: “She’s been working one-on-one with Jo and just got stronger and stronger. The change in her is unbelievable.
She’s not a strong swimmer but this is about what you can do and not what you can’t.
“She loves being involved with the whole group. They’re a great bunch.”
Some of the children who have enjoyed the event over the years are adults now and, after a successful trial run in 2019, Shalcross and Sample opened the triathlon to older entrants last year.
Team Valley-based office technology company SOS Group is continuing its backing as headline sponsors for the triathlon and gave hands-on support, including transporting the specially adapted bikes for use at the event.