A POLICE detective will swap the thin blue line for the finishing line when he represents the UK at the World Triathlon Series Grand Final in Canada.

Dave Hodgson, from Sedgefield, is one of just 20 British men in the 40 to 44 age category to have qualified for a place at the contest in Edmonton, Alberta, later this month.

Mr Hodgson, a Detective with Northumbria Police, has always loved sport but only began competing in triathlons four years ago, after injuries forced him to give up distance running.

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Since then, the 40-year-old has taken part in triathlons and Ironman competitions across the UK, using each race as an opportunity to improving his performance.

Competing in the World Triathlon Series is a dream come true for the father-of-two who fits in 16 hours a week of training around work and family life.

This includes rising at 5am most mornings and cycling 25-miles to Gateshead, where he goes for a run before starting his working day at 8am.

He said: “It feels good to have reached the final. It was a great feeling to compete at the first national qualifier and this is a step up from that.”

Triathlon is one of the biggest growing sports in the UK, with Alistair and Jonny Brownlee, heroes of the Olympic, Commonwealth and World Series winners, raising its profile significantly.

It involves the completion of three disciplines in one sequence and pushes competitors to the limits, physically and mentally.

The International Triathlon Union World Triathlon Series is the ultimate contest, with world titles awarded for elite, under-23, juniors, paratriathletes and age groupers.

Mr Hodgson’s race, on Friday, August 29, will involve a 750-metre open water swim followed by a 20km bike ride and 5km run across hilly terrain.

His wife, Sharon, said: “I am hugely proud of Dave. He is very humble and always plays it down but I think it is an amazing achievement.

“He gets up early to train so he can keep his evenings free to spend time with me and the kids.

“I think it sets such a wonderful example to the children that with belief, perseverance and drive you can achieve anything.”