FEW would be more familiar with the Gloucester Tri Challenge than Sam de Witte.
A competitor for all but one of the 22 challenges held, Sam has also been the race director for the past 15 years.
Part of a three-man team with Paul Hedditch and Mike King, Sam does the lead-out leg of the Tri Challenge every year.
“I’ve done the ride every year bar one,” he said.
“I’d like to say I’m getting better at it.”
While the team is simply there to compete and have fun, they also enjoy the challenge of the event.
“It’s a good excuse to stay fit throughout the year,” Sam said.
“I try and ride my bike two to three times every week, and I’ll up that on the lead in to the race.”
Race organisers are expecting more than 300 athletes for this year’s challenge, the 23rd running of the event.
“Like me, a lot of people just come along to have a bit of fun,” Sam said.
“We’ve had quite a few competitors that have been here since day one. The Barnes family from Sydney for instance - they used to race as individuals but now they enter as a team.
“I think it’s the ambience and the friendliness of the area that keeps people coming back and the event is still challenging enough without being over the top.”
The race of course does not happen without the support of numerous local businesses and a massive volunteer contingent backed by a well-drilled and highly motivated organising committee.
“It’s a very slick team,” Sam said.
“Virtually all the people involved in the organising have been with the committee a very long time. They are all very good at what they do.
“But we would welcome new blood to help out and table new ideas.”
A team of between 200 and 250 volunteers will act as marshals as part of the Tri Challenge.
A new trophy, the John Radford Memorial Award, will be presented to the first local man and woman over the line.