Old Bullet Jim breaks new ground in triathlon

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MARATHON man Jim McKellar is getting some well deserved rest this week after taking on the best triathletes in the country – despite not being able to swim at the start of last year.

The 75-year-old has become something of a local celebrity having completed a stunning 104 marathons and 10 ultra marathons over the past 19 years.

But looking for a fresh challenge, McKellar has now turned his hand to sprint triathlons, and on Sunday competed against some of the country’s best in the 2011 English Club Championships held at Emberton Lake.

Comprising of a 750m swim, 20k cycle and 5k run, the course saw 17 teams from all over the country take part, with McKeller leading his Team MK One side home to an impressive second place overall finish after winning his own age group category.

McKellar has raised money for several local charities, but none are more close to his heart than Armed Forces charity Help For Heroes as he spent four years in the Royal Air Force in his younger days before only taking up marathon running at the age of 56.

Sponsored by Corley Cycles, McKellar is a regular at some of the world’s most famous and daunting ultra marathons, including the 56 mile Comrades Marathon in South Africa.

And after racing in just his third triathlon, McKellar admitted he was terrified of getting in the water at Emberton Lake after only learning to swim in January 2010.

“Everyone asks me how triathlons compare to running marathons,” he said. “The answer is that you can afford to have a rest and walk for a bit when running a marathon, but you can’t be doing that in water!”

“I couldn’t swim properly and had a fear of open water, but after about 18 months, help from Team MK coaches and my own super coach Jeni, I was selected to represent the club on Sunday and it was great to take on some of the best in the sport.”

The race was won by a team from Cumbria, but McKellar’s time of 2 hours and 5 minutes helped his seven-man and one woman team to second place, with the Olympic standard athletes finishing after just over an hour.

“I was the oldest member of the team and together with 15-year-old Alex Burton we did quite well, despite the tough conditions with the wind making it tough,” said McKellar, who was nicknamed Old Bullet after his exploits in South Africa.

“But the swim was the toughest discipline for me, and so to make sure I didn’t hold up proceedings they sent me off first with the ladies, with a flag belt on so I could be seen.

“When I competed in the Windsor Triathlon in the Thames in June I was swamped by the swim waves coming up behind me. Not this time though as I did a personal best time. The crowd all cheered me on and there was such a friendly atmosphere, in a lovely setting.

“I want to thank the people of MK who have supported me, and of course my lovely family and wife Lily of 53 years.”