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April 28, 2021

My Park Life With Liz Stephensen-Payne

Roundhay Park has been the start for all races at AJ Bell World Triathlon Leeds since the event moved to the city in 2016 and, this year, for the first time, all races will also finish in the park with the same finish line being used for every distance and category on offer at the event from GO TRI to elite.

Having visited the park regularly to paint, walk and enjoy the gardens and views for over 20 years, Liz Stephensen-Payne experienced Roundhay Park like never before when she completed the GO TRI at AJ Bell World Triathlon Leeds in 2019.

“I’ve been going to the park now for at least 20 years and it never gets old,” commented Stephensen-Payne. “I go specifically with my art stuff when I can to paint because I enjoy grabbing a coffee and my gear and sitting and painting. It’s just a wonderful park.

“I live half a mile away from Roundhay Park and it’s my go-to place for exercise; running, mainly walking with my partner and a little bit of cycling. We try not to do it when it’s busiest at the moment but we’re very fond of the park.”

Taking place on 5 and 6 June 2021, AJ Bell 2021 World Triathlon Leeds will see participants swim, bike, run in and around Roundhay Park with spaces for the GO TRI, sprint distance and standard distance available to enter here.

For Stephensen-Payne, being able to take part in the event in Roundhay Park made the event even more special because not only was she achieving her goal and overcoming her triathlon challenge, but she was doing so in a place that already meant a lot to her.

“One of my earliest memories is visiting the specialist gardens which inspired a holiday to Spain after we saw the Alhambra Gardens in Roundhay and wanted to see the original,” she said.

“I think the most exciting thing I can remember doing in Roundhay is the GO TRI. The actual day was brilliant. Doing it in a local environment really helped because I knew the people I was going in the water with, biking with and running with, and I knew the area and the terrain around it. It felt like I was running around on home turf.

“At the run at the end I was quite tired being 66 at the time, so I was trotting around and really enjoying the scenery and people cheering me on. It was lovely to trot around that last bit.

“I’ve been in a couple of parks with flowers out to run in and it’s a lovely experience – the nice thing about Roundhay is it’s good all year round and in summer you get all the big blooms as you’re trotting round.”

Roundhay Park is one of the biggest city parks in Europe and plays a huge role in the everyday lives of people from across the area, as well as hosting events throughout the year such as AJ Bell 2021 World Triathlon Leeds where Stephensen-Payne will once again take her place to swim, bike, run.

“People come from miles around to visit Roundhay Park,” Stephensen-Payne added. “There are lots of easy paths for wheelchairs or a child’s buggy, two cafes and usually an ice cream van, so it’s a really nice place to meet up with friends and family.

“I was booked on for last year and my ticket has transferred to this year. The first time I did it I didn’t do so well on the cycling and this year I started a lot earlier on with my cycle training.”

All races at AJ Bell 2021 World Triathlon Leeds will see the routes start and finish in Roundhay Park, culminating in a blue carpet finish outside Mansion House.

To view the races available to enter and to secure your place in Roundhay Park this year, click here.