CHEADLE Running Club's Julie Hulbert has been cruelly robbed of a coveted international appearance next month by the world-wide coronavirus pandemic.
Julie, 45, was due to represent Team GB in the Middle Distance Triathlon Age Group Team Championship at Walchsee in Austria.
The leisure centre administrator, from Upper Tean, is a familiar face at the South Moorlands Leisure Centre, in Cheadle, where she has worked for the last 17 years.
A member of Cheadle Swimming Club – coached by Anna Lavan – and Cheadle Running Club, Julie has always had sport in her background.
However, it wasn’t until she turned 39 that she first took on a triathlon and now, six years later, she regularly takes part in middle distance triathlons and has also completed a full triathlon, in the Iron Man event in Vichy, France.
Julie said: “The first year I did a triathlon it was with my friend because she wanted to do it – I borrowed a bike and went with her.
“The second year, my husband Mark decided to go for it, so I borrowed another bike and we did it together.
“The year after – 2015 – that I bought my own bike and took part in five triathlons, one of which included my first open water swim. That was when I started to feel that I could compete.
“I joined NVH Traithlon based in Burton and started to take part in more events across the country.”
NVH Triathlon is affiliated to the British Triathlon Federation, which opened the door for Julie to qualify for the GBR Age Group Team.
She competes in the Middle Distance category. Each event is comprised of a 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile cycle route and a half marathon of 13.1 miles.
When she came first out of 59 in her age group at Outlaw Holkham on July 7 last year – her birthday – with a time of five hours and 24 minutes, Julie knew she was in with a chance of gaining a place on the team.
Her selection was confirmed in November. “I was elated,” Julie added. “It was very emotional.
“I started a 16-week training programme in March, but when I realised the event wasn’t going to happen because of the coronavirus I had to stop. I was expecting it, but when the event was cancelled it was still a blow.
“All of us are now waiting to hear if we’ll keep our place on the team for the event in 2021, it’s not been confirmed yet that they’ll be carried over, but I’m hopeful.
“I’m still running and cycling, the only training I can’t do at the moment is swimming.
“Anyone can get involved in sport. I think it’s a good idea to try different things. I borrowed bikes for my first two triathlons – funding three different sports can be expensive, so it’s a good idea to try things first before you buy all the kit.
“But sport is open to anyone, it’s never too late.”