Formula 1 driver Jenson Button clocked up an impressive 1.09.50 on his debut at the GE Blenheim Triathlon today, with girlfriend Jessica Michibata completing the course in 1.47.01.
The former world champion, who was racing with friends on the picturesque Oxfordshire course, was the fastest of a number of celebrities involved over the weekend.
Jenson Button commented; “I love doing triathlon. It’s one of the few times I get to see all of my friends.
“It’s great being part of the Ichiban Triathlon Team. Today was fantastic, and a tough challenge. It’s amazing to be able to race at a beautiful venue in such a well organised event.
“It was wonderful for Jess to race in front of her mum and our friends with the support of so many spectators.
“We have been to races in Kona, Honalulu and all over the world, but to me, as this is my home country, it is the most beautiful.”
In the Men’s Elite Race, reigning champion Tim Don exited the water in fifth position at the end of the 750m swim, but quickly moved through the field to lead through the majority of the 20km bike. From this point Don ran away to complete the 5.4km run and finish in a total winning time of 59.30. Fellow Brits Tom Bishop and Todd Leckie finished second and third in times of 1.00.04 and 1.00.10 respectively.
In the Women’s Elite Race, young British junior athlete Lucy Hall looked on course to upset her seniors, coming out of the water in first position with a phenomenal time of 9mins 23 seconds. Hall set the early pace on the bike, only to be caught by chasing group midway through stage. Heading out onto the run she was overtaken by South African Olympic hopeful Gillian Sanders and fellow Brit Jacqueline Slack. Sanders quickly asserted her dominance on the run, clocking up a time of 20mins, 10seconds on the 5.4km run to finish in a total time of 1.08.12 – over a minute clear of Slack, who finished in 1.09.20.
Hall managed to hold off the chasing competition to finish in third overall and first Junior in a time of 1.09.41 – taking home two medals from the day (Bronze in the Elite, and Gold in the Junior).
Gordon Benson took the Junior Elite title in the Men’s Race in a time of 1.01.49.
As well as the Elite athletes and celebrities, the weekend saw more than 5,500 amateur competitors participate with over 15,000 spectators cheering them around the course. Families turned out in force to enjoy the carnival atmosphere in the sunshine, whilst cheering on their children in the Active Kids zone events.