AN unusual festive sporting event will take to the streets of Oxfordshire today.
The Oxford Triathlon Club is holding its fancy dress duathlon at Bletchingdon.
About 50 triathletes are expected to take to the county’s roads for a ten-mile run/cycle/ run, in fancy dress around Bletchingdon Green.
While other groups may settle down to roast turkey together, at this event there is friendly competition, with people dressed in tinsel-clad outfits for a one-lap run, two-lap cycle and two-lap run.
Among those taking part are competitors dressed as fairies, elves and Santa, as well as people wearing reindeer antlers and even more quirky attire.
Last year one of those taking part was dressed as a Star Wars X-wing pilot.
From iron man triathletes to novices, all levels take part.
Club secretary Stuart Marsh said: “During the summer we have a series of training events which are duathlon in nature.
“This is a similar one we have at Christmas to try to bring members from the club together and show a little bit about what we do.
“It is to bring a bit of fun and show that we don’t take ourselves too seriously.
“Friends and partners of those who have taken part turn up.”
Adding to the Christmas spirit, the event will finish with a mince pie and mulled wine at the Rock of Gibraltar pub, at Enslow Bridge, Bletchingdon, instead of a medal.
Mr Marsh, 34, from Oxford, added: “The reaction of people is varied, from those beeping their car horns and telling us to get off the road, to others laughing at us being on our bikes in costumes in winter.
“There’s been a surge in interest in triathlon since the Olympics.
“We have seen that in more people enquiring about the club and this is almost a tester event.”
One of those taking part in the event for the first time is the Oxford Mail’s Mothering Sundae columnist Esther Browning. She is hoping to be dressed as a Christmas tree.
Ms Browning, who has been with the club for 18 months, said: “I first heard about it earlier this year and it has been my main goal.
“I have already bought an outfit that is a Christmas tree, but I’m hoping to buy some fairy lights to go with it – the ones you don’t have to plug in, though, as that would make it more complicated.
“I will be the first mobile Christmas tree riding a bike.
“I train a lot on my own and do some bike rides and some runs, so it is nice to do this fun event where everybody gets the chance to get together.”
For more details of Oxford Triath-lon Club, visit oxfordtri.co.uk