“Do you fancy joining our group and doing a duathlon?”. I didn’t know what a duathlon was but my time at the gym had no purpose and the duathlon sounded ’fun’.
About 8 of us started the journey, training each week together and mid-week alone, the ‘training together’ bit dropped off as most of the group developed injuries (sound familiar?). Eventually only two of us reached the start line’, Lee and I trained together, raced together, finished together and, completely surprisingly and ‘SPECTACULARLY’, came first and second in our age group – smiling and gesticulating like Olympic heroes! On that day I saw my first triathlon and this is where my enthusiasm began to grow… I got the bug!
Shortly after the race I joined ATC, a great club and I became involved in the whole ‘club/teamy’ thing, however, I realised most club members were at different standards (in those days we had less than 50 members) so group training wasn’t always possible.
2007/2008: I entered my first couple of sprint triathlons and was extremely motivated when I entered my first ‘club championship’ at East Grinstead. The club was supportive and the event was magnificent. It was a big stage for me and I enjoyed every moment and crossed the finish line with a beaming smile.
2009/2011: I completed more duathlons, sportifs, runs and adventure races culminating in the ‘Forestman’ a long distance triathlon in the New Forest (I couldn’t bring myself to pay for the proper Ironman and this was much prettier with an off-road marathon). My finish line smile may have been a bit droopy but it was beaming inside.
2013: A couple of ATC members were considering ultra-running. I enjoyed the countryside and running so why not do a long one. With support from family and mates we spent almost a year in preparation and in June 2013 we set out on our journey, again with families and friends as Support Crew– 103 miles from Wye village. About 24 hours later we kept bumping into sky blue shirts, inspiring us for the last 20 miles we met ATC runners, ATC cyclists and ATC supporters. We crossed the line in Wye village with around 50 ATC members, family and great mates cheering us on. I managed the smile too.
Along my journey: I was Men’s Captain for a couple of years, I became Chairman when the previous person moved away. Later I decided to concentrate on my development as a coach, leaving the committee work after about 5 years at the helm. Now, as Head Coach, I am proud to coordinate a super team of qualified coaches at ATC.
2017: I plan to ‘go long’ again. My personal journey continues. My family and friends will be with me and will support me; it will be a tough year and I will cross the finish lines grateful for their encouragement. I will finish my races with the same smile I always have because I enjoy my sport. It is a personal journey, however, it cannot happen without the support around me. Usually an individual sport, always a team effort.