Created by Brett gravel extraction and now on course to become a country park and lakeside village, Ashford’s Conningbrook Lakes continue to deliver huge benefits for both wildlife and the local community.
Through the summer of 2014, the multi-faceted lakes beside the Julie Rose Stadium have welcomed hundreds of super-fit athletes for two major triathlon events. First came the fourth Brett Ashford Triathlons and Aquabikes event and then more recently, the Owler Tri event which is also sponsored by Brett Group.
The Brett Ashford Triathlon includes four events – a standard triathlon for individuals and teams, consisting of 1.5km swim, a 40km cycle race and a 10km run; a sprint triathlon, over half those distances; and standard and sprint aquabikes where competitors complete the appropriate swimming and cycling but without the run.
Competitors hit the water in Conningbrook Lakes, then set off from the Julie Rose stadium on their bikes, following routes through the beautiful Kent countryside. Runners in the triathlons clocked up their miles on a mixed route of roads and cross-country, returning to the Julie Rose stadium to cross the finish line in front of the enthusiastic crowd.
Local clubs were well-represented, with Ashford Tri Club, Deal Tri Club, Tri Spirit Team, Ocean Lake Tri and 7oaks Tri all fielding competitors, but participants came from all over the country and from as far afield as France and Belgium. Local triathlete, Mark Whittaker from Deal Tri Club took overall honours at the standard distance, completing the three sections in a blistering 2.01.28, with Scott Wiseman from Ashford Tri Club in second place with a time of 2.05.09. The standard triathlon lady’s title went to Jill Cliff, also from Deal Tri Club, with a time of 2.20.09.
The sprint event was very closely fought, with just 46 seconds between the first and third placed men. The winner was Dean Shrubsole in 1.11.05, just 14 seconds ahead of Greg Williams in 1.11.19, with Duncan Hawkins taking third place in 1.11.51. Top spot for the ladies in the sprint event was taken by Hayley Trevelyan of Maidstone Harriers Tri in a time of 1.14.53.
The day was organised by triathlon specialists, Tri Spirit Events with Brett Group as the major sponsor. Liz King, event director for Tri Spirit Events, said: “We were thrilled with how the day went, and would like to thank all the competitors, marshals, sponsors and supporters for making it such a success. We had a lot of people who arrived just to watch the event on Sunday, which was great to see, and helped to build a good atmosphere.”
A Full Iron Distance Triathlon in August
The Julie Rose stadium and Conningbrook Lakes saw an even larger gathering of triathletes for the Owler Tri event in August. This comprised six competitions, including a full-iron distance triathlon and aquabike, a half-iron distance triathlon and aquabike and sprint triathlon and aquabike. The full-iron distance is the gruelling combination of a 3.8 km swim, a 180 km bike race and a 42 km run.
The Owler Full Tri winner was Pierre Godof who completed the entire course in the great time of 10.35.59, with Neil Strange taking second place in an impressive time of 11.00.19. Third place went to Lee McAnulty who finished in 11.15.26. The ladies’ full triathlon was won by Katie Sherwood in a brilliant 11.23.01, followed by Lucy Tomlinson in 12.46.25, and Gill Elstub in 13.17.12.
Liz King, the event Director said: “|The triathletes did fantastically well on a hot day, and it was great to see so many smiling faces as they came across the line, realising the magnitude of what they had just achieved. All of the events were a great success, with incredible feedback from the competitors, it takes a big team to create a good event. We would like to thank Brett for their continued suport in allowing us use of the Conningbrook Lakes and surrounding area for events such as these."
Built by Brett and widely regarded as one of the finest athletics facilities in the country, the Julie Rose Stadium, will benefit considerably from the wider sporting and recreational activities now being planned at Conningbrook Lakes. The facilities form part of the plans developed by Brett in partnership with Ashford Borough Council for a country park. The overall plans for the site include a new lakeside village which will provide the funds for creation of the country park.
To read more about the proposed plans for the country park please visit www.conningbrooklakes.info/
The Brett Half Marathon takes place in November 2014, for information about how to enter please visit www.trispiritevents.com/events/brett-ashford-half-marathon/