Mad Hatter Sports Events

Mad Hatter Sports Events

We caught up with Co-founder and Co-owner of Mad Hatter Sports Events, John Yalland to talk about their upcoming events this year and how the organization first came about.


How did Mad Hatter Sports Events come about?

“There was three of us in Mad Hatter myself, another chap called John and a chap called Martin. The three of us have gone and done various events. And you pay anything from like £5 to £500 to go and do an event and you come over the line and the atmosphere is great like Iron Man, you know you've been out there for 13 hours, you come over the line and somebody goes, “John, you are an Ironman” and literally I felt like I was dying but I wanted to go and do it again. And so that atmosphere is great.

But then another event you go to and you pay all this money and you come over the line, someone hands you your medal with a grumpy look on their face and go “Uh, thanks for coming” and you think ohh OK alright…

So we thought we can do better. So what we’ve tried to do is still tried to be value for money but it's about giving people an event that is high quality and great fun. You know, quality medals, t-shirts things like that. So that’s why we started doing the events, just to say we can create something that's more energetic, more fun and better for local business and better than some of the other event companies out there.

We also run social swims every Saturday in Cornwall which gets posted on Facebook where our group goes for a swim somewhere, a harbour, a beach sometimes even climbing down off rocks to get to a cove. So not just events”



What events do Mad Hatter Sports run?

“So there's a SWIM-SUP-RUN alternative triathlon, where the bike leg is replaced by a paddle board leg, which is a really fun. You can do it as an individual or as a team. Just a really fun event, families get involved and love it.

We've got our Hokie, Cokie Charlestown event, our SWIM-RUN event. This is our biggest or one of our biggest events. So it’s a swim-run event with two distances of 10K and 20K.

Then we've got the Hokey Cokey Rosend, which is an endurance event. So that's a 40K race doing SWIM-RUN which is similar to the Charlestown one but a lot further.

We've got a straight out and back open water swim called the Gwineas. There's a magic rock in Cornwall called the Gwineas - it’s a magic rock cause the closer you get the further away it gets so they swim to there and back.

Then we have Swim Festival - which is 3 swims in a day. A 1K distance, a 2K distance and a 3K distance. And you can do any combination of the three, so you could in theory, swim 6 kilometres in a day. This is a great event for Elite Athletes but also it's a great event for beginners as well, and it's a bigger probably our biggest event in terms of numbers. We could probably get about 400 and 5500 people doing that one.”

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Can anybody take part in these events?


We emphasise with the way that we do stuff. So we've got people who rock up, never heard of us before, we've had Olympians and Elite triathletes turned up to our events and some that take part and finish a swimming in 3540 minutes. And we celebrate the elite athletes because they're brilliant and they're fast and they're natural ability is amazing. But we also get people who have never swum in the water before and come and do the events and we celebrate them as much as the guys that are in first place.

We actually give prizes for “most racing” - is one of the terms we use AKA a last place person over the line. They get a quite nice price, sometimes a bigger price than the winners! We try and encourage everybody to stay around and support everybody in. So that's something we really, really try hard to do.”

What training would I need to do for these events?

“All of these events are slightly different, so for training, I think you just need to you need to do what you think is right and if you haven't got that access to the sea or to the you know a lake or something and you can only train the pool, that's fine.”

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Your top tip for event training?

“The more conditions you experience, the more sea life you experience, the more jellyfish and more waves. You become more confident and acclimatized to those conditions, so come race day actually doesn't really matter if it’s a bit choppy because you swam in far worse.”

How can you sign up for events?

“All entries are done through our website You can find information about the events on our social media channels where we publish a lot of what we do and our social swims.”

How has Zoggs helped Mad Hatter Sports?

“Things like printing of swim hats and things like that, it helps us out in that way. You provide us with kit and things that we can use which is a big benefit to event organisers a because it takes away the stress of designing and ordering and things like that. But also financially it helps us as well because you're sponsoring the events which helps us massively.

Sponsors like Zoggs can help event organizers by simply just sharing events and getting it out there that events are taking place.”

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