THE icy-cold waters of the Forth and Clyde Canal will host the return of Red Bull Neptune Steps next month, as the open-water adventure race lands back in Glasgow for its third consecutive year.
The Neptune Steps, which takes place at the Maryhill Locks on Saturday, 18 March, challenges endurance athletes in an adventure race like no other.
Competitors will face a true test of speed, strength and resolve as they swim through 420 metres of cold water and climb 18 metres over seven canal lock gates.
Among the athletes taking part will be Olympian Gordon Benson, who is set to take on a new challenge as he hits the icy-cold waters of the Forth and Clyde Canal to kick-start a busy competition schedule.
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The British Triathlete said: “I’ve been focusing a lot on my swimming over the last season with the Olympics, but this will be something new and completely different for me, and I’m looking forward to giving it a go.
“It’s the only event of its kind, and the unique challenge of swimming and climbing, combined with the cold canal water will be a real test. I can’t wait to rub shoulders with 400 other swimmers at Red Bull Neptune Steps, and it’s a great opportunity for me to have fun, whilst sharpening up ahead of the ETU Triathlon European Cup in Las Palmas”.
Last year the event sold out in just eight minutes, such was the demand for entries. Athletes travelled from as far as Sweden, Netherlands, Switzerland, and Canada to compete in front of 3,000 spectators lining the canal banks.
Steve Dunlop, Chief Executive of Scottish Canals, said: “We’re delighted to welcome Red Bull Neptune Steps back to Glasgow’s canal for the third time. This world-class, high-octane adventure race is just one of the many new and exciting uses of the 200-year-old Forth & Clyde Canal that’s changing the face of North Glasgow.
This year will see double the number of competitors as 400 men and women will line up to swim, climb and conquer the ultimate open-water endurance test.
Competition was fierce in 2016, with the final contested by top ITU triathletes and International open-water swimming athletes. Jordanhill’s Mark Deans could make it three-in-a-row this year after winning the 2015 and 2016 men’s finals.
The Neptune Steps will start with 400 competitors, competing in heats throughout the day, and featuring separate female and junior competitions. The highest placed swimmers from each round will move onto the semi-final heat and eventually the final.
Each canal gate features a different obstacle, which the swimmers have to climb over before diving into the next section of water, including cargo net, ropes, wood ladder, rope ladders and a climbing wall.
Red Bull Neptune Steps will take place on Saturday March 18 at Maryhill Locks in Glasgow. Entries open Tuesday at 10am via redbull.co.uk/neptunesteps.