Glasgow Triathlon Club has won a grant for £500 to support the junior section. The award is part of Scotmid’s Community Grant scheme and will allow for the introduction of timing chips at the 2020 Allander aquathlons.
The community grant scheme helps deserving causes across Scotland. Since 2012, the scheme has supported hundreds of projects.
Scotmid Co-operative extends to 300 retail outlets in Scotland, Northern Ireland and the north of England. Their businesses include Scotmid Food, Semichem, Funeral Directors, Post Offices and a property division.
Hilary Glen has enjoyed another fabulous year with GTC, culminating in winning the Most Improved Athlete of the Year. It’s always interesting to find out more about club members, especially when they are relative new-comers to triathlon and, indeed, sport.
Hilary reveals that she wasn’t a particularly sporty child although she
did play a bit of tennis (because the tennis club was located behind her
childhood home) and swimming (although this was not competitive).
She adds: “My dad took myself and my two sisters swimming once a week. This usually consisted of Catriona [Padmanabahn] swimming 200 lengths while Rosi [her other sister] and I did a couple of races then mucked about and did handstands.
“I did try out for an Edinburgh swimming club once and got in, but
when I found out training was at 5am I declined the offer.”
During her 20s, Hilary, who has been with GTC almost four years, completed a couple of 10km runs – “very slowly,” she says – and a half marathon.
She continues: “But then exercise took a back seat after I had children, while also working full time and doing a PhD etc.”
‘A mid-life crisis”
When Hilary, who is a consultant medical oncologist at Beatson West of
Scotland Cancer Centre, turned 40, things suddenly changed.
She says: “I think I had a bit of a mid-life crisis. My husband Paul and I had finally gained some control over our work-life balance and the children were a bit older and more independent so we found we had some spare time.
“The Beatson had launched its new charity and I thought I might mark
this, and my 40th, by raising some money for them. Things kind of snowballed
and I ended up taking on a year of sporting challenges, including 10ks, half
marathons, Tough Mudder and finishing with the Edinburgh Marathon.
“Looking back I trained badly and without much structure and I spent half the year struggling with injury. I limped round the marathon to finish my goal and raised lots of money but I wasn’t especially impressed by my sporting achievement.”
After completing the marathon, Hilary agreed to take part in the Beatson
Charity’s “Aim for the Skye” event, which involved cycling from the Beatson to
the Isle of Skye over three days.
She says: “I had never been on a road bike before and a very kind friend donated one of hers. I could barely make it to the end of the road due to anxiety and balance issues, and very quickly I abandoned any hopes of ‘clipping in’ after ending up in a stream (still attached to the bike).
“But with the help of my dad (a much better cyclist than me) we made it to Skye intact.”
Then came triathlon
Now that she had a run and cycle under her belt, triathlon seemed the
natural next step. By this point, Catriona’s older children were members of the
junior section of GTC.
Then Hilary’s son, Jamie, became a member. She says: “I decided to take the plunge and joined the club. I met my now great friend Michelle in our joint first session in Duggie’s lane at the Western Baths and the rest is history.”
When Hilary started doing triathlons, she tended to rotate the
discipline she liked the least. She says: “I’m not a natural at any of them and
certainly at the start I was equally as bad at all of them. Seeing your
improvement through training really helps the enjoyment though.
“Now I alternate my favourite discipline. When you are out cycling in
the stunning Scottish countryside on a beautiful day with good friends and
family, you can’t beat it. But then when I’m having a really good run, with
great tunes playing, it also feels great.
“The biggest surprise for me is how much I enjoy open water swimming.
The first time I did an open water triathlon I had a massive panic attack and
thought I was going to drown, until I realised I could actually walk along the
bottom as we were in a very shallow part of the loch. I now prefer open water
races to pool.”
Hilary reports that she has improved in all disciplines since starting
with GTC. She says: “I could hardly finish a length of front crawl when I
started. Like many in the club, I tentatively started in Duggie’s lane on a
Sunday night and progressed from there.
“I am much faster than I was to start and my endurance has changed
enormously, but it is a slow process and you need to not get disheartened when
lots of swimmers leapfrog past you into faster lanes.
“I’ve also gone from being barely able to balance on a road bike and certainly not able to get up any hills – I fell off going up Schiehallion during my first Etape due to extreme slowness – to being clipped in, down on my tri-bars, maintaining good speeds for long hilly rides and loving getting out on the bike.
“And my running has changed completely. I am now running speeds I never thought possible.”
Hilary enjoys the variety of different race distances. She says: “They all test you in different ways. Earlier this year I did my first super sprint relay at Monikie, which I absolutely loved. You are absolutely flat out for the short distance but it was quite thrilling and I felt the extra pressure of trying to do the best for the team.
“But then, at the other extreme, I’m not sure anything will compare to the test you put your whole body through in an Ironman, with the unbelievable sense of achievement at the end.”
And it is Ironman Wales that Hilary reveals as her best sporting achievement yet. She says: “This time last year I had done one standard triathlon, which nearly killed me, and I was practically last.
“I could not have dreamt that an Ironman was remotely possible and in the end I managed it about two hours quicker than I’d hoped.
“The whole experience was like nothing I’ve ever done before and I
absolutely loved it.
“But it’s not just the race that was the achievement, but the year of sacrifice and dedicated training leading up to it. During that year, I also raced my fastest shorter distance events and realised that if you actually put the work in, it is amazing the results you can see.”
Tips and advice
Hilary has lots of tips and advice that she
has learned through personal experience.
Set a goal. I always have the next race booked up. It doesn’t matter what distance it is, nothing will get you out training more than having something to train for.
But make sure you aren’t put off by comparing yourself to others. I just ran a 10k race with lots of other teammates and was last out of all of us. But I took 2.5 minutes off my previous PB and so was thrilled.
Have a training plan and stick to it. Ideally, if you can, get a coach to make a training plan for you!) It is very easy to put off a run, swim or cycle if it’s not written down (for me anyway).
Using something like Training Peaks is great as you can plan your week or month around your work/social life.
Sign up for group sessions. If you’re signed up, you have to go. And once there, you will always be pushed harder than you would push yourself. And you meet great friends and have a bit of fun while your training.
Get some training buddies. Having a lot of the club doing Ironman Wales was great because there was always someone up for a joint training session. With marvellous folk, such as Viv, Paul, Maggie, Jim, Gareth, Lochlan, Neebs, long, hard cycles were always much more manageable.
Exercise is a great mental healer. Beyond the physical fitness, which is so important, we cannot underestimate the importance of exercise and the part it plays in emotional wellbeing. In my job, the vast majority of my patients have terminal cancer and I look after them until they die.
With the improvements we are making in the
treatment of cancer, I often treat people for many years before they reach the
end of their life and get to know them and their families extremely well.
This can take a huge emotional toll and
when I started as a consultant I really struggled with my own mental health to
the extent that I nearly gave it all up.
While many things helped to finally turn
that around, I find exercise enormously beneficial in helping me cope with the
stresses of the job. And my lovely patients, who have far bigger battles than
me to fight, which they do with great courage and humour, spur me on.
Because I do most of my big races for
charity, I get a lot of donations from patients and their families which also
helps drag me out for a training run when it’s cold, dark and wet and I’d far
rather be curled up in front of the telly.
When it comes to racing, as long as you have done a reasonable amount
of training, you can physically get through any race. But the biggest challenge
is always the mental one.
There are lots of tools you can use, such as breaking the race into
sections, spotting someone ahead of you that you try to keep up with or
overtake, visualising the finish etc, but the most important thing is to
completely believe in yourself.
If you tell yourself you can’t do it, you won’t. Also, if you’ve done any “big” races, you can draw on that on all your subsequent races. I frequently tell myself. “if I could get through Wales I can get through this.”
Goals for next year
Hilary is keen not to lose the fitness and progress she made in the
year leading up to Wales. She says: “While I don’t have plans to do another
Ironman (at least for the foreseeable future!), Paul and I have signed up for
the Yorkshire Half Ironman next year to keep us going.
“Having seen the difference actual training makes, I’m also keen to keep improving my speed in the shorter distance events and, in fact, we have kept Crawford (Project 3) on to help with this.”
Hilary’s lifetime aspirations are simple: “I just want to keep enjoying it.”
She adds: “The benefits are so huge, from general fitness, improved mental health and wellbeing, meeting friends for life, encouraging our children to keep fit and active to the sense of achievement when you achieve a goal.
“I also have a slight inkling that I might like to take on coaching,
but I’m making myself have a bit of a rest before embarking on that…”
More tips from Hilary
Join a club. None of this would have been possible if we hadn’t been in the fabulous GTC. I used to be a solitary trainer and didn’t think I liked training with others. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
Believe in yourself. I have said this before, but it’s important. You can totally do anything you put your mind to.
Set yourself goals. It doesn’t matter if they are big or small, without a goal the likelihood of putting in the training is much less. And achieving the goal is hugely satisfying.
Don’t put things off until a rainy day. Life is short. Today is your rainy day.
More than 110 club members took part in an inaugural GTC Club Championships 2019. Organiser Craig Armour compiled a list of 18 races, spread across the season. Scores were awarded for each athlete’s best three races to reveal the winners in each age category.
Every December, Glasgow Triathlon Club comes together to celebrate a great training and racing season and to kickstart the festivities.
The annual awards for adults and juniors are also announced and presented. This year, professional athlete Beth Potter, who grew up in Bearsden, was invited to present the awards. (Thanks to Alan Anderson for organising this.)
Sponsored by Vicky Begg Coaching & Sports Psychology. Helping athletes to achieve their potential through discipline-based programmes, combined with sport psychology support and counselling. Email: email@example.com.
Winner: Craig Armour.
Best Race performance (short course) 2019
Sponsored by Alan Kennedy’s company, Surface+. Offering to source, supply and professionally install bespoke timber, stone, natural fibre and microcement flooring.
Winner: Amy Ritchie.
BEST Race performance (long course) 2019
Sponsored by Crawford Whyte’s company, Project 3. An experienced triathlon coaching service, offering coaching plans, technique analysis and endurance specific training sessions. New training centre coming early 2020.
Winner: Bruce Greenhalgh.
Most improved Athlete of 2019
Sponsored by Fiona Maurer’s company, Fit + Fabulous, Fiona is an experienced qualified personal trainer, helping clients succeed in juggling a busy home and work life with healthy living.
Winner: Hilary Glen.
GTC Coach of the year 2019
Sponsored by Paul Gallagher’s company, Keys Galore. If you need an emergency locksmith, an extra set of keys, lock repair or a new safe, Keys Galore can help.
Winner: Vicky Begg.
Ongoing commitment to the club
Sponsored by Sarah Heward’s The Real Food Cafe. An award-winning cafe in Tyndrum, serving a delicious handmade and carefully sourced menu. There is a GTC discount button on their till.
Winner: Sean Webster.
Best Volunteer 2019
Sponsored by David Wilson ‘s company, OLA. He offers a full range of architectural services, from inception to completion, providing a personal service and bespoke design solutions.
Sponsored by Crawford’s dad at Salen Bay Campsite. The Isle of Mull’s newest campsite offers sea and mountain views. It has 10 fully serviced hard-standings, two electric grass pitches and a further 28 standard grass pitches.
Winner: Rory Treharne.
Most Improved Female Athlete
Sponsored by Mark Cohen’s company, Mark’s Deli. It is the only kosher deli & cafe in Scotland with an unrivalled selection of kosher delights in store. Also, the supplier of buffet at the GTC Christmas party.
Winner: Erin Burnett.
Most Improved Male Athlete
Sponsored by Ian & Tamara Hockey’s company, The Big Bobble Hat. Having spent many years trying to find the perfect beanie or bobble hat, both on the ski slopes and in the great outdoors, it finally occurred to them to create their own.
Winner: Findlay Adler.
New club captains
Sponsored by Alan Anderson at The Rotunda Comedy Club, which is Scotland’s biggest comedy club. Every Thursday, Friday and Saturday you can dine in one of four restaurants, enjoy a two-hour show featuring top award winning comedians, then relax late into the night in the cocktail bar.
Male junior captain: Callum Miller.
Female junior captain: Ellie Wallace.
Thanks to David Wilson and Paul Glen for the photographs.
Triathlon Scotland has announced the results of the You Can Sport Ranking Series 2019 with many GTC members winning awards. There were plenty of GTC names in the lists, too, which means our club’s participation across a list of races in the past year was very good.
The You Can Sport Ranking
Series recognises and rewards consistent participation in various permitted
events. Members gain points while competing in You Can Sport Ranking Series
events and these points lead to overall and/or age group prizes.
Overall, in the large club section, GTC was second of five clubs with 651.83 points, behind Fleet Feet Triathletes with 1109.20 and ahead of Fusion with 514.70.
In the youth club rankings overall, GTC was second on 1475.99 points behind Fusion on 1736.05.
There are a number of different triathlon ranking categories for the adults.
There was also a Triathlon Scotland Awards ceremony , which saw professional triathlete and runner Beth Potter, originally from Bearsden, awarded the Elite Performance of the Year title.
Cross Triathlon Series
GTC athlete Juliette Linford took first place overall in the female rankings and first place in the senior age category.
Juliette says: “I was surprised to be ranked first. I wasn’t aiming for a ranking place, but I love cross races and I happened to do those that qualified.”
Another GTC member, Romy Beard
was third overall and second in the senior age category.
In the men’s results, Nial Smith took fourth place overall and second in his senior age category.
Neal Padmanabhan was eighth overall and third in his super vet age category.
Craig Ross came 23rd overall and ninth in the senior age category, while David Hepburn was 29th overall.
In the Triathlon Sprint
series, Craig Armour was 25th overall and 10th in his senior age category.
Craig Ross was 40th overall
and 13th in the seniors age group.
John Kinsella 73rd overall
and 6th in the vintage age group
In the female races, Celia Greig
was 17th overall and fifth in the vets, while Louise Ross was 24th overall and
10th in the vets.
Alasdair Ireland, Alistair
Young, Lochlan O’Sullivan, Stephen Macintyre, Martin Smith, Juliette Linford,
Hilary Glen, Laura Henderson and Jane Grant also ranked overall.
Youth Aquathlon Series
Cory Mcconville took first place in the TriStarts (aged eight) category.
Joel Adler was fifth, Brodie Burnett was sixth and Ruben Devlin was seventh.
Cory says: “I love doing
triathlon as it is so much fun and I get to do lots of swimming and running
that I am good at. I was so happy and excited to win the aquathlon series and I
am really proud of myself.”
Isaac Findlay also ranked in the Tristar 1 (9-10 age) group.
There was another first place, in the age category Tristar 2 (11-12) by Findlay Adler. Rory Treharne was third and Fraser Donaldson was fifth. Euan Lockhart also ranked.
Charlie Treharne was second in the Tristar 3 (13-14) category, while Cameron O’Brien was fifth.
In the Tristar Youth (15-16) male category, Jamie Glen was fifth and Callum Miller was sixth.
In the females age Tristar 1 (9-10), Erin Burnett was fourth, Isla Amon was sixth, Skye Dick was seventh and Ferryn Stewart was ninth. Anna Ross, Jodi Abel and Eilidh Grenhalgh also ranked.
Mirren Stewart first in the Tristar 2 (11-12) age group and Islay Jackson was eighth.
Calli Abel, Ella Lockhart, Eilidh
dick, Lilian smith, Erin Grenhalgh and Mariyah Kareem also ranked.
Amiya Patel was second in the Tristar 3 age cat (13-14) and Lucy Donaldson came sixth. Holly Glen also ranked.
Holly Smith was fourth in the Tristar Youths (15-16).
Youth Triathlon Series
In the Tristarts, Brodie Burnett was third and Mcconville was fourth. Isaac Finlay also ranked.
In the Tristar 2s, in third, fourth and fifth places respectively were Rory Treharne, Fraser Donaldson and Finlay Adler. Also ranked was Euan Lockhart.
Charlie Treharne was third in the Tristar 3s. Alasdair Padmanabhan and Cameron O’Brien also ranked.
In the Tristar Youths, Cameron Miller was seventh.
In the female Tristarts, Talia Padmanabhan was second.
Ferryn Stewart won the Tristar 1s and Erin Burnett was third. Skye dick was seventh, Isla Amon was ninth and Eilidh Greenhalgh was 10th.
Mirren Stewart won the Tristar 2s and Nina Padmanabhan was fifth.
Islay Jackson, Erin
Greenhalgh, Mariyah Kareem, Calli Abel, Eilidh Dick and Ella Lockhart also
In the Tristar 3s, Lucy Donaldson was fifth. Amiya Patel also ranked.
In the Tristar Youths, Mia Padmanabhan was fourth and Rachel Smith was fifth.
GTC member Bruce Greenhalgh qualified for the Ironman World Championships in Kona at Ironman Wales 2018. Earlier this month, he headed to Hawaii and after finishing in an impressive time of 9 hours 53 minutes and 27 seconds, he described the race as “the highlight of my triathlon life”
In the run up to Kona, Bruce, who competes in the 40
to 44 age group, employed the help of a coach. He worked with Graeme Stewart,
Bruce says: “Training kicked
off fairly quickly after Ironman Wales. The qualification for Kona had left me
buzzing and I was eager to get started on training for Kona but I wondered what
I could do to improve after mostly organising my own training plan for previous
“I thought that working with a coach would allow me to see how I could do things differently. Given that it was 13 months from Wales to Kona, I think that working with Graeme was useful because I probably would have over-trained earlier and burnt out way before the race.”
Ups and downs of training
Graeme adjusted Bruce’s
training plan, including a focus on bike pacing. Bruce says: “I also did a lot
of work on slower cadence cycling to build leg strength. This is the opposite
to what I had previously been doing and this really helped to improve my
efficiency on the bike.”
Bruce entered Ironman Lanzarote to break up his year of raining but things did not go so well. Bruce says: “Lanzarote was meant to be a way to practice racing in similar conditions to Hawaii. It turned out to be a brutal race, however, due to mistakes I made nutritionally.
“I finished in 11 hours 59 minutes and it did leave me wondering how I was going to cope with the heat in Kona.”
As Kona loomed, Bruce also
started to feel intimidated by the reports from other people of the heat, wind
and generally brutal course that he could expect.
Bruce says: “The athlete
guide also suggested arriving in Kona three weeks before the race to
acclimatise. But that was never going to happen.
“I arrived the Monday before
the race and I was actually pleasantly surprised by the conditions. I got out
and cycled a big chunk of the course. I also managed a couple of training runs,
which helped to settle the nerves a little and gave me a better feel for how to
pace the race.”
Bruce described the Kona
race week as “a bonkers place”. He says: “It gave me a feeling of being an
imposter, seeing all these athletes who looked like they were straight out of
some photoshoot for the next Olympics as they galloped past me.
“Seeing it all for real though was amazing. I checked into transition next to Daniela Ryf [the Swiss athlete and four-times Ironman World Champion], which was crazy and then race day, seeing all the pros getting ready, was incredible.
“The organisation at Kona was brilliant with the number of volunteers and the assistance for each athlete.”
The Kona swim
Bruce describes his Kona
race, starting with the swim.
He says: “This year’s race
was a staggered deep water start, which I think worked quite well. It meant
there was a lot more space for competitors and it was probably one of the least
violent Ironman swims I’ve done.
“Kona is always non-wetsuit,
which really worried me because it’s not something I could train for in open
water in Scotland so it was a big unknown.
“Thankfully sighting was quite
good and it was a one-loop-clockwise course, which helped given I breathe only
to the right-hand side.
“The sea is beautiful with
coral reef fish and turtles. However, on race day I didn’t notice any of this
apart from the coral, which strangely you could use almost like lane lines in
The race reported that there
was a sea swell and it was apparently worse than in previous years but while
Bruce could sense it he said it was not as bad as a choppy day on Loch Lomond.
He was also delighted to catch up with some of the swimmers in the wave ahead and he completed the swim in 1:02.
He says: “It was a good start and I was pretty elated after that going into T1. I definitely had to pinch myself having seen T1 on the TV for so many years.”
Kona bike course
The bike course starts with a hill and Bruce saw some fellow age groupers stopping at the side of the road with technical issues. He says: “This didn’t help to settle the nerves because you are always worried about what could go wrong in a race.”
Bruce remembered his race
plan and, for once, he held back taking the hill calmly, letting people pass
and then settling into the ride.
He says: “My bike power data
seemed a bit weird but my average speed was way better than I’d expected. My
power seemed well down on what I was aiming for but given my speed I decided to
stick with that and my perceived effort.
“The staggered start had
helped to spread out the field compared to previous years and although there
were a few big groups on some of the uphill undulations it wasn’t too bad at
“I was nervous about getting
a drafting penalty, though, so I never really hung around and it felt great to
be powering past people.”
Bruce felt the bike course played to his strengths. He says: “It’s not a technical course, like cycling in Scotland, and I rarely needed the brakes.
“The crosswinds were a bit challenging but certainly not as bad as in Lanzarote. People seemed to feel it was a tougher wind day than last year but it certainly didn’t slow me down too much and I arrived back in 4:55, which was about 20 minutes faster than I’d thought I would go in my best case scenario.”
Bruce describes T2 as
brilliant. He says: “Someone grabbed my bike to rack it. I got given my bag,
sat down and then a chilled towel was draped over my shoulders while I put on my
“I felt good and way better than any T2 previously and I set off with a spring in my step.”
Bruce runs to sub-10 hour
At this point, Bruce knew that a sub-10 hour Ironman was possible but he found it hard to work out the maths for his pacing as he ran.
He says: “I simply settled
into my plan for five-minute kilometres and hoped I wasn’t going to blow up with
the heat. Crikey, it was it hot.
“Thankfully, the aid
stations in Kona are about every mile and sometimes slightly closer, which is
good. They give out cups of ice, which were invaluable. I was glad to have on
my one-piece trisuit because this meant I could put ice down my suit without it
“At each aid station I walked, getting in the fluids and the odd gel, but it was the ice I valued most.”
Bruce was also grateful for
the nutrition on course. He says: “It was incredible and although the taste of
the Gatorade is minging it didn’t give me any issues and due to the volume I
was taking in I didn’t need a great deal of salt tabs or gels on top.”
The Kona run course is essentially a long and undulating out-and-back loop.
Bruce says: “The run does have a hill comparable to Wales but you only do it once. I deliberately walked it having read a lot about how you can overheat there and then never cool down after that. This worked and going through the famed energy level was tough but I was really pleased with how I managed to keep knocking out at relatively the same pace.
“There were certainly plenty of casualties and I went past a lot of people hunched over or walking. Getting back into town was fabulous and I knew I was sub-10 then.
“I slowed to savour the moment and what I’d accomplished.”
‘Dream come true’
Bruce reveals that it was a dream come true to finish Ironman Kona in a sub-10. He says: “I was only eight minutes slower than my Copenhagen Ironman PB, which given the toughness of the course, I was super chuffed with.
“I think I could have taken
more risks and gone quicker but that could have led to the wheels coming off
and then there would have been so many regrets.
“To finish like I did was a
highlight of my triathlon life. It felt amazing to be in amongst it all and
seeing all the pros during the race. Having my family there was the icing on
Bruce still has racing ambitions but he says it is difficult to imagine that he can surpass his Kona result. He says: “However, there is still a hunger to do more racing.
“I do think I need some time off though to get some brownie points back in the bank. I plan to have an off year but keep training to a degree.
“I think I might plan for
Ironman Barcelona in 2021 and try to go sub 9:30 but it depends on my motivation
nearer the time.
“I don’t think I’ll ever go back to race at Kona because it’s a massive cost on a variety of fronts but to have done it is a dream come true.”
An initiative to support women who want to try open water swimming was hosted by GTC recently. The idea was launched as part of a Triathlon Scotland project supported by sportscotland.
A six-week course called Women into Open Water (WOW) comprised three weeks in the pool, a week at Pinkston Watersports Centre and two weeks at Loch Lomond.
The coaching team, led by head coach Vicky Begg, included Craig Armour, Alastair Young, Duggie Mac, Alex Rennie, Ruaraidh Wells, Lucy Roberts, Anna Taylor, Rose McIlwhan, Julie Mac and Lochlan O’Sullivan.
The course covered safety, skills, including sighting, breathing patterns and swimming in groups, as well as wetsuit swimming.
Vicky added: “We also had a plan to progress the full group towards a distance-based swim at Loch Lomond, from around 200m to 1km depending on ability, as well as the possibility of entering Swim Loch Tay.”
The main benefits for the 14 participants was a more “formal” fast-track route to open water swimming, although this is usually covered in all club sessions albeit less formally.
Vicky said: “The aim was to build confidence in those who might otherwise have had the desire to swim open water but did not have the opportunity, or the peer group, or skills or knowledge to actually try it.”
Janis McArthur was one of the WOW participants. She said: “I joined the course because I felt it was the only course or training available for complete beginners.
had also signed up for a open water triathlon and then tried some OW swimming
and had a massive panic in the water and this knocked my confidence.
the course idea popped up not long after this incident and I am delighted
because it have me much confidence and guidance. I was then able to put this
into practice at the Mallaig Triathlon.
“The coaches where very patient, encouraging and supportive and recognised when I was panicking in the water and talked me into calming down. They understood my fears and changed them.”
A new challenge
McFarlane also joined the course. She said: “Open water swimming was a personal
challenge. I try to do something new every year instead of having a new year’s
resolution not to do something.
know quite a few people who swim outdoors but I didn’t have the confidence or
means to try it. It’s certainly not something you can do on your own.
other half bought me a wetsuit for Christmas last year as a nudge to get me into
the water and at last I got a chance to use it.”
found the course to be ideal for gradually building up to the point where she
felt confident to get into the open water.
said: “I absolutely hated swimming at Pinkston, I have to say, because I just
couldn’t catch my breath and I was worried that I couldn’t swim without
when we got to Loch Lomond it was a totally different story. It was just so
relaxing. By the last week, I really amazed myself with how far we swam – and
with my head under the water! – and all without touching the bottom.
support from all the other ladies really made the course, too, and there was a
real sense of we are all in this together.
I got out the water I felt on a total natural high and even though it was a
Friday night there was no need for the usual red wine to unwind.
a stressful job, this was the best benefit. I’m now preaching to anyone who
will listen to get them to try it, too.”
Christie has been a member of GTC for just over a year and competes in the women’s senior (25 to 29) age group. She is a principal primary school teacher.
Christie, the youngest of four children growing up in Fife, came to sport in her late teens and after a rough start at university.
She explained: “Sport was not a major priority when I was a child. We are a big family and my parents worked full time.
“My parents were not athletic and they did not have the time, or money, for me to participate in clubs. Additionally, I went to a small high school, with only 360 pupils and sporting opportunities were not something that existed.
“My main focus in my teens was always trying hard to get good grades to go to university.
“When I left home to Glasgow University to study Anatomy I was only 17. Two days later, my boyfriend split up with me. I found this quite hard being on my own in Glasgow at such a young age and I did not feel as though I fitted in with the other girls in my halls.
“To make things harder, my
ex-boyfriend had brought me down mentally, calling me fat and saying I was ugly
without my nails painted and hair up. This had knocked my confidence.
“I started going to the gym
but then I also spent a lot of time in my room at uni comfort eating and then
counting calories and trying to burn these off on the cross trainer or
treadmill and it turned into a vicious, lonely cycle.
“Then, between first and
second year at uni I started working in a care home and I decided I would do
Glasgow Half marathon for Alzheimer’s Research UK.
“I had never done anything
like this before but was determined to finish. My time was two hours 13
minutes. This sparked off something and I joined Glasgow Hares and Hounds
Throughout second year at
Glasgow uni, Christie ran with the club, but she still felt as though she was
classed as one of the “slow, unfit girls”.
She says: “Everyone else had
been in the sport, or active in their youths, with plenty of opportunities for
sport and I felt like I would never catch up.
“It is something I still
struggle with today and triathlon has helped me to not compare myself to others
and be proud of who I am.”
When Christie reached her third
year at uni, she decided to try something different and joined the RAF
She said: “This was a
fantastic experience. Unfortunately, I became unwell between third and fourth
year and had to have an operation to have bi-lateral cyst removal on both
ovaries. This knocked me slightly and, throughout fourth year, I trained mostly
on my own and focused on passing my exams in Anatomy.”
Then, deciding quite late
into her fourth year that she wanted to be a teacher, Christie gained a place
at Aberdeen University to do PGDE Primary Teaching. She said: “I moved back
home and travelled from Fife daily to Aberdeen. It was absolutely mental and I
would not recommend the six hours of travelling each day.
“On boxing day that year, in
2015, I decided to do a parkrun that was on in Kirkcaldy. It was miserable,
freezing and pouring with rain. However, a girl called Alison Sutherland
approached me and convinced me to join Falkland Trail Runners.
“I absolutely loved it. They
were so encouraging and supportive and it was a different atmosphere. I went there
on a Thursday evening and then joined Leven Las Vegas Running Club on a Tuesday
evening. This developed a positive love for running until I moved back to
Glasgow in August 2016 for my probation teaching year.”
After running in Glasgow for
a year and completing her teacher training, Christie developed an injury. She
describes this as a scary time.
She said: “I really valued
my health and training had become a big part of my life. I paid for private
healthcare to be assessed. I had sciatica in both legs and arms and due to this
not improving at one point they considered that I may have multiple sclerosis
and did nerve conduction tests etc.
“Luckily, I did not, and it
was just disc damage that took over a year and a half to improve.
“Half-way during the injury,
my mental health was starting to suffer and I knew I had to do some kind of
physical activity. The only thing the doctor suggested was swimming.
“One problem, however, was that
I could barely swim a length. In November 2017, I joined Glasgow Club adult
swimming lessons and continued these until June 2018. They were fantastic.
“Then, after a summer away
working at Yale University, I returned to Glasgow and I decided to join GTC. My
back was almost 100% and I wanted to be part of a positive club environment
like the Falkland running club.”
Christie joins GTC
Running is still Christie’s
favourite sport. She said: “I think this is because it was the first sport I
got into and the one I have had most success with so far. I need to still
improve my swimming and to get out on my bike more.”
Since joining GTC, Christie
has seen improvements in all three disciplines.
She said: “The support,
coaching and feedback in the swimming sessions has been phenomenal. At times, I
felt insecure, worried and anxious, particularly when the lane times came into
place and while I was still new to the club.
“I felt as though I would
hold people back, but certain club members have boosted my confidence and made
me feel worthy. I have the endurance but sometimes not the speed. I have
progressed so much and I aspire to continue to keep progressing.
“Over the next few months, I
really want to focus on swimming again.”
Her cycling confidence and knowledge
of bikes and riding in a group has also greatly improved thanks to the Bellahouston
track sessions. She said: “I would highly recommend the informal social cycles
Alastair runs on a Saturday. I have only been to a few but these are fantastic
and I like that I do not need to worry about getting lost as I have no clue
about cycle routes.”
Christie reports that Sean’s
Thursday Bella running sessions have also been fantastic. She said: “I enjoy
the four-week blocks and the small informal group environment. Everybody is very
positive and encouraging and Sean is always happy to share knowledgeable
information. Now I just need to try to catch David Hepburn!”
So far, Christie has taken
part in sprint distance triathlons, including Glenrothes Sprint Triathlon,
Bishopbriggs Triathlon and Stirling Double Sprint Triathlon. She hopes to do
longer distance triathlons next year.
Age group place for London
In other sports, she reveals
she ran her second marathon – the Loch Ness Marathon – recently. She said: “I
was absolutely overwhelmed with my time achieving 3:19:49. This was a real
positive for me as I was slightly disappointed after Manchester Marathon, my
first marathon in April, due to running with friends and helping to pull one
friend over the line.
“At Loch Ness, I felt a real
buzz. It was something that I had not felt before and eventually I am starting
to believe I am a runner.”
Additionally, last month Christie
was delighted with her first podium, a second place in the Kilmacolm half
marathon in 1:33. This was a five-minute personal best.
However, she reports that
she feels different when she finishes triathlons. Christie said: “I feel
happier and more relaxed but maybe I am not trying hard enough. I was gutted to
miss out on third place by less than a minute at Stiring sprint double triathlon.”
When Christie has a tough
training session or race she has a way to get through it. She said: “I always
think about what treat I am going to have afterwards. This varies but I do love
chocolate and cake.”
New sports goals
Her goals include “improving
my swimming and continuing to cycle to work throughout the winter”. She added: “I
have recently sold my car to encourage myself to cycle more.”
Loch ness Marathon time means she has also received a “good for age” place at
London Marathon 2020. She said: “London has been on my bucket list since I
started running and I always said I would do it when I was 30, but after the
injury I thought, stuff it, go for it and get a place. I am looking forward to
it but I am unsure if I will enjoy the busyness of the race.”
is also keen to try her wetsuit in open water. She said: “I bought one but
never got around to it this year. Whoops!”
says she is also tempted to sign up to Yorkshire Half with the club group that
is planning to go next summer and perhaps an Olympic distance triathlon. She
said: “I may be more suited to endurance races as I am more anxious over a parkrun
5K than a marathon.”
In the future, she would
like to become an Ironwoman.
Christie said: “Right now,
it’s more about enjoying the outdoors, trying new things and having a healthier
lifestyle. After studying Anatomy I know how complex the body is and everyone
should value being healthy and happy. There are two of the most important
things in life.”
Christie’s tips for
Do not compare yourself to others. Do it for you!
Get involved with a club. Everyone is super encouraging, respectful and supportive.