The event saw over 100 triathletes take part, including members (past and present) of #TeamNCMH. Between them, Elen, Lawrence, Alice, Rachael, Lowri and Jess swam, cycled and ran over 64km!
There was a fantastic atmosphere during the afternoon, with race marshals, family, friends and colleagues giving their support to everybody taking part.
Exercise has been proven to have a positive effect on wellbeing, with higher levels of activity associated with improved quality of life, as well as reducing anxiety and depression. It can also play a role in preventing the development of mental health problems and in improving the quality of life of people experiencing mental health problems.
We bought into the ethos of GO TRI, offering people from all kinds of backgrounds the opportunity to try something new in a supportive environment.
Sponsoring the event allowed us to offer a limited number of free places to people who had taken part in our research as a thank you, as well as set up a stall to speak to people about mental health and our research.
Cardiff University’s Triathlon Club carried out an informal survey before the event, asking participants about mental health and exercise. Here’s a snippet of the responses:
Triathlon is physically and mentally challenging but it provides a healthy release for emotions that you can’t cope with on a daily basis. It’s a healthy ‘addiction’ compared to alcohol, drugs or self-destructive behaviour.
Before becoming involved in triathlon I had been going through a very difficult time. I found during this time that exercise helped me greatly and the friendliness of everyone that I met through triathlon helped me to overcome what was a very dark time for me.
They also received a longer response from somebody who lost their brother:
Just over 2 years ago, my brother passed away suddenly from TB meningitis. I was devastated. You always assume that your siblings will be there. After spending nearly 3 weeks not venturing outside, my boyfriend at the time managed to get me to do some exercise to get out the house and make myself feel more human again. Before this I was never sporty, I kept fit in the gym but never ran and had given up competitive swimming in my early teens.
I found that exercise really helped me though. My gentle 20 minute jogs made me get out the house and start living again. Then I saw poster for a triathlon in my Uni city. For some reason I decided it would be a great idea to sign up to it (never having ran 5km let alone swam, cycled and then ran 5km, I think my brain was still a bit mushy).
I wanted to raise awareness and a bit of money for a charity that both my brother and I had supported over the years and another charity that supported people with TB in the UK as well as abroad. I wanted to do something that was so out of my comfort zone that people would take notice. But also it gave me a focus. I raised over £1000 for those charities and found that I actually really enjoyed this whole exercise thing. Looking back now, it’s funny how I thought a sprint tri was the hardest thing imaginable.
Since then I have ran a marathon and done a half ironman. The buzz you get when you reach your goals is amazing. But most importantly for me, Tri has opened up a world of new friends at Uni as well as at home. It is now a massive part of my social life and gives me something to look forward to each day. It’s amazing how happy speeding through the countryside on a bike with your closest friends can make you.
For more information on the GO TRI format, including to find upcoming events in your local area, head to gotri.org.
You can learn more about Cardiff University Triathlon Club on their Facebook page.