FORMER INTERNATIONAL cyclist Jake Ragan is relishing a new challenge as he prepares to take part in next month’s inaugural Milltown Sprint Triathlon.
The 19-year-old from Denshaw, who won 12 national titles and competed for the Great Britain men’s team in the World Cup last year before quitting the sport to pursue an academic career, is the highest profile entrant so far.
The event takes place on Sunday, April 26 and it may only be a sprint triathlon (a 400m swim, 20km bike ride and 5km run) but the recently announced route offers a challenge to even seasoned competitors.
The swim will take place at Saddleworth Pool, Uppermill, while the bike ride and run take in wonderfully scenic routes around the hills of Saddleworth, Diggle, Delph, Lees, Grotton and Grasscroft.
Jake, who has taken part in a number of previous triathlons and duathlons, said: “Race director Alan Keane has devised a challenging course, and it is going to be a fantastic race offering some spectacular scenery.
“I have cycled through Saddleworth and they are heavy roads with long, steep hills, like the climb up Ripponden Road.
“The Tour de France came close by last summer, and hopefully a lot of people will turn out to support what I am sure will be the first of many triathlons.”
So, how was Jake persuaded to take part in the sprint triathlon.
He said: “After finishing cycling, I went out with Saddleworth Runners a couple of times and Alan was in the group. He initially asked me to be lead marshall in the half marathon, and that is how it began.
“I did triathlons when I was aged 12/13 years and was North West champion as well as an Oldham schools’ champion at 800m and cross country.”
Jake will be warming up by taking part in the British Elite Duathlon Championship at Rockingham motor racing circuit, Northamptonshire, on Sunday, March 29.
That entails a 5k run, 20k cycle ride and finishes with a 2.5k run with Jake looking to qualify for the Europeans in his age category as he did last year, but was unable to make the trip to Italy.
It is six months since Jake gave up cycling having been a member of the GB talent squad, Olympic development squad, Olympic academy programme and GB podium level squad.
He said: “I am absolutely over the moon with what I achieved in my short time in cycling winning 12 national titles.
“It was all about competing at the Olympics, but a lot of the endurance events on the track have been dropped.
“Basically there are only six places in the Olympic squad and it would be a big gamble to do 10 years in the sport and not qualify and then have to find a job outside cycling.
“I dropped out halfway through my A Levels and have taken an access court and applied to go to Manchester Metropolitan University later this year to do a BSs honours in a science-based subject.”
If you want to join Jake in Oldham Community Leisure’s Milltown Sprint Triathlon, which is sponsored by the Citizens Advice Bureau, as an individual, or in a team, visit www.milltownraces.co.uk to sign up and get your 20% discount. Prizes and medals are given at all Milltown Races and special awards will be given for runners completing all events in the 2015 Series.
This site also has details of the bike and run routes for the Milltown Sprint Triathlon and after the event will post results and photographs.