The Absurd Triathlon for Mind Mental Health
05 Sep 2016

The Absurd Triathlon for Mind Mental Health

An ridiculously fun effort at raising money for charity.

Last year I met a man in a car park. The man was in the penny farthing business and had a full sized farthing strapped to the back of his small Suzuki car. I wondered what it would be like to ride such a contraption. Then I wondered what it would be like to ride one as part of a triathlon. Then I wondered what could be done with the swim and the run so that they were equally as absurd as the bike section. Thus, the absurd Triathlon was born.


Fancy doing a triathlon on one of these? #swimbikerun #triathlon #pennyfarthing

A photo posted by 26Fe (@26feuk) on


After a lot of thought, I decided that the absurd triathlon would be a 2km swim on a giant inflatable banana, an 8km ride on a penny farthing and a 4km run on stilts, all with a giraffe named donkey strapped to my back. I used the opportunity to raise money for the Mind mental health charity.



What I didn’t really factor when conceiving the modes of conveyance is that riding a penny farthing and running on stilts were things that I would actually have to learn how to do. Many things are said to be like riding a bike; riding a penny farthing is not one of them, in fact, knowing how to ride a bike is probably detrimental to learning to ride a farthing, as everything, including the steering the pedalling is counter intuitive.

Learning to walk on the stilts was quite easy but running on them took some getting used to. You’re meant to be able to run up to 30mph in them, but they’re so heavy that running, even a short distance, is exhausting.

Absurd Tri Interview

The Absurd Swim (on a giant inflatable banana)

I didn’t do any practice on the banana, which was an oversight because, upon entering the water, I struggled to find a way to get on top of it and swim.

Swim on Banana

Eventually, I found that keeping the banana horizontally under my arms and doing what was essentially a doggy paddle was quite effective.

It was a sunny morning, and the jaunt down the River Severn was tranquil and most enjoyable and noted a few double-takes from some rowers!

The Absurd Bike (on a penny farthing)

Upon exiting the water, I mounted my penny farthing and set off around the Diglis loop, which is an 8km tarmac foot and cycle path that runs around the Worcester race course and all the way up and around the river bridge at Diglis. It’s a very scenic and pleasant route which I would often run when I lived in Worcester. You can’t go very fast on a penny farthing, so I just took in the scenery. People were very friendly and inquisitive and after about 40 minutes I had completed the loop.

Penny Farthing Panorama

Triathlon Penny Parthing


The Absurd Run (on stilts)

Upon finishing the on the farthing, I donned the stilts and setup off on the run. Unlike the swim and the bike sections, this was a bloody hard slog, and I got into the rhythm of running for 30 seconds, then walking for 30 seconds. To make matters worse, I could feel skin rubbing off the bridge of my feet, and I knew I would be dealing with some nasty blisters at the end.

Running on Stilts

On the final stretch, I began a sprint finish when suddenly a buckle broke, and I narrowly avoided going head over heels. It was just like the end of the film Cool Runnings!



The absurd triathlon was very fun, and I exceeded my goal by raising £255.34 for the Mind mental health charity.