Ali takes top spot after turning to triathlon

Date: Friday 21st September 2012
Ali Robinson in action in the 13km trail run, the final leg of the Buttermere Triathlon.
Ali Robinson in action in the 13km trail run, the final leg of the Buttermere Triathlon.

EDEN’S Ali Robinson took top spot in the weekend’s Buttermere Triathlon only his second ever triathlon.

The 29-year-old, from Dockray, completed the 1.5km lake swim, 44km road cycle and 13km trail run in two hours, 56 minutes, 30 seconds 40 seconds ahead of second placed David Francis, of Hartlepool.

Ali, who was representing Keswick Bikes, for whom he works, is a full-time cyclist but is currently recuperating from injury.

He was second in last month’s Penrith Triathlon his first attempt at the sport. “Triathlon is something different for me and it fits in with my rehabilitation. Swimming and running are good rehabilitation for cycling,” he said.

“I didn’t expect to do so well at Buttermere as the run leg is a much more significant part. It took me almost as long to do the run as the bike ride.

“In the Penrith Triathlon the run was only 5km this was almost three times that, and off-road. However, I ran much better my running is coming on. Swimming is my weakest event of the three and I’m looking to find a coach,” said Ali, who is not with a triathlon club.

He has suffered numerous injuries over the last few years, and in July crashed while taking part in a big cyclosportive event in the French Alps, injuring his knee and aggravating a shoulder problem.

“I basically went off a cliff and damaged my right knee quite badly, which means I can’t road race effectively because I have no sprint,” said Ali.

The crash came just weeks after he was runner-up out of 1,370 riders in the notoriously tough Fred Whitton Challenge, a 112-mile sportive which starts and finishes at Coniston and includes the climbs of Kirkstone, Honister, Newlands, Whinlatter, Hardknott and Wrynose passes.

Only last week Ali took top spot in the Border City Wheelers Hartside hill climb, completing the 5.3-mile course from Melmerby in 17min 23sec.

After the Penrith Triathlon, Ali said he realised how much he missed competing. “I thought I might as well do what I can and enjoy it a bit more,” he said. “I have broken my shoulder three times and never really done the rehab I needed, so I decided to use this season to fix the problems and my knee is recovering well.

“I’m not certain what I’ll do next season. Having looked at triathlon and what is possible, it is quite appealing. I could earn more than I can on my bike through prize-money. For example, Ironman UK has a first prize of £50,000!” he said.

This weekend Ali is in action on the bike in the Whinlatter hill climb, which he has won for the past couple of years, and the following weekend he faces a daunting challenge in the inaugural Wasdale Triathlon, which is being pitched by organisers as the “world’s hardest half-ironman”.

It will involve a 1.9km swim in the UK’s deepest and coldest lake, a 90km bike ride, climbing 2,200m, including Hardknott and Wrynose passes, and a half-marathon with 1,395m of ascent.

“I would like to do a full ironman in the future with the eventual aim of competing in the world championships in Hawaii,” he said.

l First woman home in the Buttermere Triathlon, in a time of 3.29.28, was Penrith’s Rhiannon Silson, a member of Arragons Cumbria Tri Club.

Rhiannon was a member of the Arragons team which won the 2011 English Triathlon Championship and finished third this year. She is also the reigning national aquathlon (swim and run) champion.