Category Archives: Club news

News, info, events and race reports.

GTC athlete of the month: Callum Miller

Callum has been training with GTC for four years and now races in the Youth 1 (age 15 to 16) age category.

A pupil at Boclair Academy, Bearsden, his progress to triathlon began with swimming. Callum says: “Until the age of around eight, I was purely a swimmer because many of my close friends had started competitive swimming and I liked the sound of it.

“I found it enjoyable at first, but as friends moved clubs and stopped training, I too began losing interest.

“Also, I found that staring at the bottom of a pool for eight hours a week was not too enthralling.”

Callum training on the bike.

A move to triathlon

Having become disenchanted with swimming, Callum took up archery for a few years until he joined a triathlon camp.

He says: “Since that Easter training camp four years ago, I have dropped archery and began to move forward with triathlon as my primary focus.”

Callum is once again enjoying the swimming, as well as training in cycling and running.

He says: “I like being in the pool again but also with the added diversity of having cycling and running as a sometimes more enjoyable alternative.

“Another advantage of triathlon as a sport is that I find the training exceptionally fun. Overall it’s the diversity of three different sports that means I really enjoy triathlon.”

Callum likes the three sports equally. He says: “I know that some people have a favourite discipline in triathlon, such as a sport that comes more naturally to them or a sport they excel in, but I honestly find all three equally enjoyable at times.

“If I am doing a nice cycle in the sun on smooth roads, then cycling is my favourite. If I am in a warm loch, then my favourite is swimming. If I have a rainy day, running is my favourite.

“I feel like all three disciplines are great – if not the best – sports. They all have their merits and, to be honest, they don’t have many flaws, apart from cycling in the rain!”

Callum has seen great improvements in all the disciplines, as well as in his transitions, since joining GTC, but especially so in running.

He says: “It took few sessions for the coaches to identify problems and suggest improvements in my running – and how I could develop a better technique.

“I saw improvements quickly due to the fact it is probably the easiest sport for me to really exert myself and therefore allowing greater fitness to develop faster.

“I have really valued the incredible technique coaching from GTC.”

Callum racing.

Callum’s racing career

Callum began his triathlon racing career in the Tristar 2 age category. He says: “The race distances were perfect for me at the time and I then went through Tristar 3, continuing to pursue the standard age distances.

“Now, since entering the youth category, I have finished two sprint distance triathlons, both of which I felt much more comfortable doing.

“I think that I am going to continue to move up distances as my stamina allows, because ultimately I want to pursue Ironman distance racing.

“For now, sprint distance is long enough for me although I do hope to complete a standard distance triathlon soon.”

Callum has revealed two achievements he is most proud of: Last year, he was selected for the Scottish Academy and, this year, he finished in the top 10 in the British ETU Sprint Qualifier.

He says: “The Scottish Academy was my focus in 2018 and I worked exceptionally hard and tapered long for the trial.

“This year, finishing eighth in the sprint qualifier was great but I was more pleased with finishing my first sprint triathlon and achieving my goal time, by the skin of my teeth, of 1:05:00.”

This season, Callum’s goals  are to to re-qualify for the Academy Squad and “to achieve a peak fitness level so I am ready to try and qualify for the ETU sprint next year”.

He says: “Having one of my great friends attending the sprint championships this season has really spurred me on to go for it again next year – and to keep trying.”

When the raining or racing gets tough, Callum has his methods for coping. He says: “To be honest, tough training sessions are hard to come by because I enjoy the sport so much, but the occasional one, or a hard race, sometimes can be really demoralising.

“The thought of a goal, long or short-term, pushes me on though. I tend to think of things like Kona and the Super Series.

“Sometimes that still isn’t enough and that is when I turn to friendships. GTC has allowed me to make amazing friends, who I trust and get along with incredibly well. Having friends like that in training can really help.”

Triathlon goal

Callum is still young but he has set himself an impressive goal to make it to Ironman Kona. He says: “I think it is the most inspiring event to watch and I really look up to the pros who can achieve such unbelievable things.

“Watching the eight-hour barrier being broken has really inspired me to do the same, and really go for the top at Ironman level.

“Another thing I want to achieve in triathlon is to continue having fun. Always enjoying what you do is very important, and I don’t see point in pursuing something that is not your passion.”

Callum’s triathlon tips

Have friends and role models: Having friends will allow a social aspect to open up out with your training life, and it will mean you have friends you look forwards to seeing, as well as people who can encourage and support you.

Having role models is good also as it allows you to really see how it is done. Regardless of whether they are pro or just the fastest in the club, having someone that inspires you will spur you on.

Enjoy it: Having fun in the sport is important because it will keep you motivated and determined, otherwise you won’t give your all. Make sure you love what you are doing and find purpose.

Join GTC: GTC is such a friendly club and always doing the best thing for their members. It is not exclusive, meaning you can go to pretty much any training session and work it around your life.

People in the club are always there to give advice and offer guidance to beginners, which is very helpful if you don’t quite know what to do. There are so many sessions to attend, and so many coaches, allowing you to improve quickly and properly.

Rachel podiums at Celtman! 2019

GTC member Rachel Hunt, 37, has long had her eye on the Celtman! Extreme Scottish Marathon. At the weekend, she finished second female and won a place in the Xtri World Championship 2020 at Norseman.

She says: “Even before my first triathlon, I’d seen the Celtman! on the Adventure Show in 2014. It was what sparked my interest in triathlon in a big way.

“This year, the Celtman! was my race goal and I am delighted by how it went. It felt great to cross the finish line and felt strong right to the end.

“It was also exciting knowing I have a place in the Norseman.”

From gym starter to Celtman!

Just four years ago, Rachel was six stones heavier than she is now. She started going to the gym to lose weight and get fit but her goal was always to do a triathlon.

She started running and cycling, did her first sprint triathlon, then an Olympic distance triathlon, a 10k, half marathon and a marathon. She says: “Then I kept working upwards, doing my first  70.3 and an ultra run two years ago.

“Las year, I did my first 53-mile Highland Fling running race and a Half X ‘extreme triathlon’.

“The Celtman is my first IM distance race.”

Rachel was also fifth female in this year’s Highland Fling.

Training for the Celtman!

Rachel, 37, reports that training for the Celtman! went well. She says: “My training plan was written by my coach and I followed it consistently. Thankfully, I have been mostly injury and illness-free so I missed very few training sessions.

“The hours of training were long, peaking at 20 hours, but I tried not to think of the week as a whole or it would have been overwhelming.

“I think it helped my training that I tried to mirror the race in training as much as possible with a long run on rolling trails towards a hill.

“I did one run a few times, leaving from my parent’s house in Gartmore to the top of Ben Ledi and then to Callander. It was perfect because it meant practising running hills when already tired and then finishing on a quick tarmac section like in the race.

“This helped me visualise the race finish.”

Rachel admits she was very nervous before the race and scared of the swim. But she was also excited because it was something she had been working towards for years.

She says: “I tried to stay calm and not get too excited or nervous but there were a few meltdowns and I’m very thankful to Vicky and Rose and many club members who gave me excellent advice and encouragement.”

Rachel and her support runner Alwyn.
2am on race day: Rachel with her dad. Her parents were her support team.

Rachel’s Celtman! swim

She says: “The swim was very cold and no warmer than 11 degrees. When I entered the water I started shivering but I wasn’t sure if it was the cold or adrenaline.

“The swim is a point-to-point swim and you are really out in the middle of the deep sea loch at points but I tried to keep that thought out of my head so I didn’t panic.

“The loch is also full of jellyfish, which I didn’t like the sound of, but in the end I liked them. I was glad of the neoprene gloves, booties and hat, which were very kindly lent to me by members of the tri club, especially when my hand hit a couple of jellyfish.

“I felt myself getting cold during the swim and when I came out of the water I was shaking very strongly.”

Rachel had hot sweet tea ready in T1 but her hands were shaking so much it kept coming out the cup. It took her 10 minutes to get moving and on to her bike.

She says: “This was longer than many people but I don’t think I would have been safe to get on my bike any earlier. I never thought of quitting at that point though and I was just determined to get moving.

“The other memory from T1, which was funny, was seeing some people stripping off completely in transition out in the open in the main street of Sheildaig village.”

Rachel’s Celtman! cycle

Rachel reports that the cycle went fairly smoothly, although it took her a while to warm up and get moving after the swim.

She says: “There were a few guys that I saw quite a lot as I would overtake them on the hills and flats and then they would fly past me on the downhills. There was some cheerful banter between us.

“In the second half, I started overtaking more people. The headwind seemed constant no matter what direction we turned and I was glad I had trained a lot on straight Stirlingshire roads, which always have a strong headwind.

“I would have liked to have been a bit faster on the cycle as I had promising average speeds on long cycles before the race but at least I got stronger with time rather than fading later on in the cycle. 

“I left the bike with my legs feeling good.”

Rachel’s Celtman! run

The run was the “absolute highlight” of the race for Rachel.

She says: “I tried to keep running through the hills in the first section and made good use of the long downhill because I was determined to make the high route.”

There is a cut off time when competitors can continue over the two Munro high run route or must stick to a lower course.

Rachel met her support runner, Alwyn Poulter, on the road section and made it to T2A with 20 minutes to spare. At T2A everyone stops for two minutes to make sure they have the mandatory kit needed for the high route.

It was at this point that an Adventure Show interviewer asked Rachel how it felt to be so close to the second female place. She says: “I don’t think my answer was coherent. But it did give me a shove to keep moving up the hill as fast as I could with Alwyn encouraging me on.”

Reaching the next checkpoint Rachel was told she was now second female.

She says: “I knew that the first two places in the Celtman! get a place in the Norseman and this thought and the beautiful views gave me a boost in energy.

“We headed along a ridge, balancing speed with safety as there was a steep drop on both sides. As I was climbing the last peak, we spotted the first female coming down so we knew she was not far ahead.

“We reached the top and turned around running back down along the ridge to the scree slope. We opted for going down the right side of the scree slope and this was probably the scariest part as the loose rocks made for unsteady foot placements.

“I had a tumble near the bottom and scraped up my knees and elbow, which stung for a bit but it was not race-ending. The route headed through the boulder field here and I had fun hopping between rocks.

“We then joined the path down the hill, which was great fun on a rollercoaster trail.”

At this point the route meets the low route, with runners coming in the opposite direction and Rachel enjoyed everyone cheering each other on and high fiving as they passed each other. There was then a 7km run along the tarmac road and along a loop around the village back to the finish line.

Rachel says: “Alwyn was great at this point, helping to keep me running when my body and head were telling me to walk it in.”

Rachel is even upbeat about the weather. She says: “I couldn’t really have asked for better from the Scottish Highlands. The wind was hard work on the cycle and it poured for the road section of the run but at that point it didn’t matter and it was actually quite refreshing.

“I wore just my tri suit for the whole run section and never even thought of needing a jacket or a second layer.

“Last year was a bad weather year and they had to close the upper route early, which must have been disappointing.”

Top three Celtnan! 2019 females.

Times and places

Rachel describes her swim as “fairly average”. After 10 minutes in T1 she was playing catch up on he cycle course but rode hard in fourth female place and then by T2A she was in third place.

She was the fastest female on the high running route and the seventh fastest run overall.

Rachel’s overall time was 14:42:15. She was 16th overall and second female.

First female was Rebecca Hoare in 14:30:52, while third female was Magdalena Trumstedt in 15:10:28.

After a bit of a rest, Rachel now has the Devil o’ the Highlands ultramarathon in her sights for August.

Race report: Fiona Maurer smashes Celtman! 2019

Turing 40 prompted GTC member Fiona Maurer to look for a suitable challenge. She wanted to do a longer-distance triathlon and chose the Celtman! Extreme Scottish Triathlon 2019.

Fiona is married to another GTC member Gary and they have two young children with special needs. She shares her time between being a mum and working as a self-employed part-time personal trainer.

Finding the time to train for a long distance triathlon is tough but Fiona reports that “training is my respite and gives me personal strength and the opportunity to meet like-minded people”.

She adds: “Living with disability reminds me of how precious life can be and how grateful I am to be able to train or compete at any level.”

Fiona and husband Gary.

Lead up to the Celtman!

Fiona started focused training in December and arrived at the start line of her biggest challenge yet feeling “strong, healthy and ready to attack”.

She also had a support team to help her to in the Celtman!, which includes a 3.4km swim, 200km bike and a 42km run over two Munros, Spidean Coire nan Clach and Ruadh-stac Mor.

Before the race, Fiona said: “It’s going to be a long but exciting day. I’m glad to have Team Fit + Fabulous by my side, including my dad, Gary, Lorna Dewar and the very important support runner Craig Dewar.”

However, just two days before, Fiona and Gary had received devastating news from doctors that their young daughter, Emily, who has a tumour, will be required to start chemotherapy treatment. It was an outcome that they had hoped they would not have to face.

Fiona said: “After getting over the initial devastation, this became my driving factor to succeed at the Celtman! – for me and my family. It was just what we all needed!”

Fiona’s husband Gary offered invaluable support as part of Fiona’s team.

Fiona’s Celtman 2019

Fiona exits the swim.

The swim of 3.4km took 1hr 13min. Fiona said: “It was a little nippy in the water at 5am. After head-butting a jellyfish, I remembered I was on their turf, so I decided to go with the flow.

“I just swam and looked up now and again and enjoyed the views. I came out strong in the water.”

The bike section through wet, wind and beautiful scenery.

The 200km bike section took 8hrs 04min. Fiona reported: “Despite lots of training and lengthy cycles, the bike section was tough. The headwinds were relentless but luckily so were the views.

“There were rolling hills with some long stretches of magnificent surrounding mountains. Sunshine, wind, heavy rain, all Scottish style. I was also overtaken by some strong women.”

Fiona a support runner Craig.
Fiona is interviewed by one of the event team at the end of the race.

The 42km run took 5hrs 01min. Fiona said: “I came off the bike with knee pain. The first 10 miles I pushed through the pain. I enjoyed the hills, thinking how lucky I was to be running and not having the ass pain from the bike.

“I quickly realised however that I was not going to make the cut-off for doing he high course, over the Munros, so I decided to relax and enjoy it.

“Meeting Craig at T2A we chatted and laughed our way around Torridon, one of the most scenic landscapes in Scotland. We  picked off runners as we went and it became a game.

“Craig even picked me off the ground after a comical slowmo fall into a ditch.”

Fiona finishing third female for the lower route and 13th overall female on the course.

She said: “I smiled for 90% of the Celtman!, partly because of sheer enjoyment but also due to my support team. I could not have done it without them.

“They gave me 110% for 14hrs 29mins! I loved having them and they helped me achieve a lifetime goal.

“Not many people have a family that would bend that way.”

Read more about Fiona: Athlete of the month

Mia qualifies for ETU Sprint Champs 2020

It was only 15-year-old Mia Padmanabhan’s second sprint distance triathlon, yet she came first and won a qualifier place for next year’s Malmo ETU Sprint Distance Age Group Triathlon Championships in Sweden.

Mia crossed the line in 1:12:25, just a second ahead of the runner up in the female under-20 age group at the Eton Sprints Weekend in Berkshire in May.

She said:”It was a great experience and I was very pleased to win.”

Mia was one of the first in her age group to exit the open water swim. She enjoyed the “fast and flat” bike section, which was draft legal.

As she headed into the run, Mia knew the other girls would be on her heels. She said: “It was a flat out-and-back run course and I was aware of others close behind me. When we turned and I had the last 2.5km to run I gave it all I had.

“I was happy to win and I am excited about racing in the European Championships wearing the Team GB kit.”

Another young club member Callum Miller also had a great race at the Eton Sprints. He came ninth in a very competitive male under-20 age group in a time of 1:04:14.

GTC athlete of the month: Amy Ritchie

Our athlete of the month is Amy Ritchie, who was delighted last month to win the Aquathlon World Age Group Championships in Pontevedra.

Amy races in the senior age category and has been taking part in triathlons for a couple of years. She joined GTC just after entering her first triathlon.

She says: “I had just moved to Glasgow for my job and I had always wanted to enter a triathlon but never got around to it, so it seemed like a really good opportunity to train with a new club and meet new people.”

Swimming was my first love

Although she came to triathlon as an adult, sport and the great outdoors have been a part of Amy’s life for as long as she can remember. She says: “My parents are very outdoorsy, so we were always going on walks and bike rides etc.

“I tried a lot of sports over the years but I joined a swimming club when I was eight and that was the one that stuck. I loved it and swam to national level. I was in a junior national squad for a couple of years.

“Sadly, I suffered from an eating disorder between the ages of around 15 to18, so essentially I had to give up competing and didn’t have a particularly healthy relationship with sport during that time.”

Amy taking part in a running race.

Running club at uni

At university, Amy joined the running club. She says: “I had done the odd bit of cross country running in school. It seemed to come quite naturally because of my swimming background so when I went to university the running club felt like a good choice.

“I didn’t ever train particularly hard but I did quite a few cross country, road and hill races and met lots of friends through the club.

“I also love hill walking – I head out to the hills whenever I can – and I enjoy doing the odd bit of other sports such as rock climbing.”

Amy enjoys a range of sports as well as triathlon, including hill walking.

Then came triathlon

Triathlon appealed to Amy because she was already familiar with two of the sports.

She says: “I was attracted to the challenge and, as someone who is always trying to do a million things at once, the idea that you could have fun with three sports rather than one appealed.

“I had never really cycled but everyone I spoke to told me it would be fairly easy. I took this quite literally and didn’t train on the bike at first. In my first triathlon, my parents told me afterwards that they were worried I had fallen off because I took so long on the bike section.

“Joining the GTC was great though because it showed me that no matter your age or ability, literally anyone can do it, especially if you’re in such a friendly and supportive environment.”

Amy with triathlon friends.

Great friends and gaining confidence

Amy particularly enjoys the camaraderie of being in a club. She says: “Even though in GTC everyone has their own goals and interests, you all have this shared experience and love for sport.

“I also enjoy the fact that there’s always something to improve on and to challenge you.

“Last summer, I focused on my cycling for the first time and I saw huge improvements. When I joined GTC I wasn’t very confident on a bike and it was really rewarding to see how my times and confidence have improved.

“Then, over the winter, I focused on running and I am really seeing the benefits now. Taking part in GTC Thursday runs and Crawford’s Monday night run sessions have really helped my speed.

“Maybe, most importantly, I’ve seen a huge improvement in my self-belief. Having had a rocky relationship with sport in my teens, when I joined GTC I didn’t think I’d ever do anything special and I just wanted to get round a triathlon.

“I’ve proved to myself I can so much more and GTC has definitely played a huge part in that.

“I think that self-belief had spread into other aspects of my life and it really shows how much sport – and a supportive group of people – can do for you.”

Any, left, on the podium with Glasgow Tri Club pals.

On the podium

Amy has certainly enjoyed some great results in triathlon. She qualified for the ETU European Sprint Distance championships in Glasgow last summer. It was only her third triathlon.

In May, she won the Aquathlon World AG Champs in Pontevedra.

Now she is looking forward to doing her first standard distance race and she has several more sprint triathlons lined up this summer.

She says: “I want to spend more time on my bike, having just bought a shiny new one.

“I also want to enter a few more running races. I’d like to beat my half marathon PB and maybe do a couple of hill and trail races for fun.

“I’ll be happy as long as I’m improving at something and enjoying myself.”

Amy is keen to improve her cycling – and to see more of the world on her bike.

Triathlon goals

Amy also has aspirations to be as “healthy, happy and to continue to do sport for as long as possible”.

She says: “In the international Age Group races I’ve done, it’s the 70 and 80 year olds that get the biggest cheer. I’d like that to be me one day!

“I would also like to do some longer races that require more specific preparation eventually, too.

“And I would like to go on a cycling trip abroad in the next few years and use sport as a way to see the world.”

Amy’s tips for triathlon

Just enter a race. Everyone has to start somewhere.

Join a club and don’t be shy. Being part of a club can really help you structure your training, especially if you’re a beginner. Triathletes are a friendly bunch and it makes the training much more enjoyable.

Enjoy the ride (or the run, or the swim). You should do triathlon because YOU want to, and it should fit around your lifestyle, goals and ambitions.  I’ve met lots of really good friends through sport and been to some amazing places. There’s no better feeling than being out on your bike or running with your pals on a sunny day, so enjoy it.

New sponsor for GTC race

The club is delighted to welcome Big Bobble Hats as the new headline sponsor for the Bishopbriggs Triathlon for the next three years.

The club will receive funding support from the East Kilbride-based business until 2022.

Ian Hockey, co-founder of Big Bobble Hats, is already a GTC member and is very happy to offer the new sponsorship.

He said: “I know from my own experience that GTC is a great club, with a really friendly and all-inclusive atmosphere.

“I joined the club because I wanted to give open water swimming a go and I have enjoyed being part of GTC ever since.

“Big Bobble Hats is proud to be the sponsor of the ‘Briggs race and an additional sponsor to the club alongside Run4It and Billy Bilsland.”

Ian Hockey.

Club president Sean Webster said: “We are delighted to have Ian and Big Bobble Hats on board as our latest club sponsors. The sponsorship will be be a great support for our club, helping to keep the cost of sessions down and providing some unique momentos for the race.”

Big Bobble Hats

The company was launched in 2010 and has gone from strength to strength. With a team of five employees and further part-time staff, they visit numerous sports events across the UK selling their products.

They also sell their items on-line at Big Bobble Hats.

The Big Bobble Hat is like no other – and many GTC members have enjoyed wearing the club’s branded version.

Big Bobble Hats will also become the club’s supplier of club training kit, including t-shirts, technical tees, hoodies and baseball hats.

Ian said: “Our connection to sport comes through the athletes, as well as the fans and supporters. People wear the Big Bobble Hats and other kit while they are waiting to start a race, or afterwards.

“The supporters also welcome the warm hat and clothes like the hoodies while they are on the sidelines offering cheers and support.

“We are a local business and we are looking forward to being a sponsor of Glasgow Triathlon Club.”

See Big Bobble Hats.

A summer of great cycling with Billy Bilsland Cycles

Are you looking for new cycling kit or perhaps a new bike? Perhaps your bike needs to be serviced or you are having some bike fit or maintenance issues.

Billy Bilsland Cycles is one of GTC’s official sponsors and they are keen to help club cyclists. Many club members have already found the shop staff’s advice invaluable.

Benefits include a 10% discount on bikes, part and accessories in the shop. If you are looking for a carbon bike it’s possible to get one on loan from the shop. Let’s just say there are Cervelo and Ridley bikes to try!

The shop also offers a range of high-quality shallow or deep-section carbon rim wheels for loan, including Mavvic and ENVE; power meters; and hard boxes if you are travelling with you bike.

Bilsland is also Scotland’s only Ship My Tri Bike location.

Aftersales servicing at Billy Bilsland is done by Cytech 3 qualified mechanics and there is a lifetime of free servicing on bikes priced over £2,000 (not disc) and one year on bikes under £2,000.

See Billy Bilsland Cycles.

Enjoy a summer of great value running with Run4It

With summer in full swing, club members might like to be reminded that Run4It is one of GTC’s valued sponsors. The running apparel and accessories store offers a range of benefits to club members.

The main bonus is a 15% discount on footwear and accessories in all Run4It shops (excluding sale products, special offers or Garmins). You can request the discount in store or make use of an on-line code.

Run4It has also been very happy to be part of a special GTC event. The event, which included exclusive offers to GTC members, was well attended and there is a plan for another similar event.

This summer, Run4It is the sponsor of the GTC Training Aquathlons and will be providing vouchers as prizes.

See the Run4It website for details of where the shops are.

GTC athlete of the month: David Hepburn

David Hepburn joined the club around 18 months ago as a way to improve his 10k PB. Since then he has found a passion for duathlons and recently competed in the Pontevedra ITU Age Group Sprint Duathlon World Championships.

David joins GTC

It was after a change of job in 2016 that David, a mechanical engineer within the wind renewables industry, found himself working away from home a lot. Spending a lot of time in hotels, he decided that running would be his best way to break the monotony this style of life.

He then entered the Glasgow 10k in 2017 and ran it in an impressive time of 40.41. David said: “My time was much better than I was expecting. After that I wanted to join a club to get some advice and coaching to achieve a sub 40-minute 10K and, being a cyclist already, GTC seemed the perfect choice.”

He added:“When I joined the club I used to just cycle and run as a way to keep fit and to enjoy the outdoors but since I’ve started racing I am really enjoying the competitive aspect of it all.”

Sport at school and uni

David’s sporting background includes playing football to what he calls a “reasonable level” at school. He said: “I played with Hamilton Accies and the Glasgow Schools team.

“Then, at university, I started mountain biking after being inspired by the first Danny MacAskill video. Although, it didn’t take me long to realise I was much better at going up hills than fast down, so decided to give road cycling a go.

“I also did a bit of running for general fitness and completed a few 10k adventure races but gave that up due to a knee injury.”

Hooked on duathlon

David, who competes in the senior (25 to 29) age category, is yet to do a triathlon although he is a keen duathlete.

He said: “I guess it’s a bit embarrassing that I’ve still not actually done a triathlon, however my first multisport event was the Peebles Duathlon in September 2018. That gave me a bug for duathlons and I have done about eight since then.

“I would never have imagined when I joined GTC that I would be possible to compete at world age group level but I did. The Pontevedra ITU Age Group Sprint Duathlon World Championships was an incredible experience.”

David was 17th in his age group.

Bike love

David also has a bit of an addiction for bikes. He said: “I own six bikes and on a sunny summer’s day there is nothing to beat a few hours on the bike. However, when the winter comes my running mileage definitely increases.”

Running and swimming

Having joined GTC to improve his running time, David also decided to give swimming a go.

He said: “I could barely swim a length of the pool at the start. However, a after a year of regularly attending the Sunday Western Bath sessions, thanks to Duggie Mac’s patience, I’ve learnt how to breathe and stop fighting the water. I just need to sort out my endurance and pace now…

“However, I would say that my biggest improvement has probably been my running. I have taken more than two minutes off my 5k time in the last year and that shows the benefits of the club Monday and Thursday night running sessions.”

David’s goals

David has a few goals in multi-sport. He said: “I would like to improve my swimming and do some open water swims and triathlons. I also hope to qualify for the 2020 ITU or ETU sprint duathlon.

“Maybe one day I will also complete an Ironman. It seems to be the ultimate challenge to do.”

A few tips

Go to the GTC sessions – I’ve seen such an improvement in both my running and swimming because of that.

Learn to understand pacing – This is the best way to achieve PBs and to a horrible final stage of a race.

Sign up to an event – This has kept me a lot more motivated for training over winter, so I would recommend that people enter a race if they are struggling for some training inspiration.

Arlene wins silver at aquathlon world champs

GTC athlete Arlene Lewis was delighted to take the silver medal in the 2019 Pontevedra World Age Group Aquathlon Championships (F45-49) earlier this month.

If you were not aware, to qualify for the ITU Aquathlon World Championships, applicants had to supply evidence of their best aquathlon or triathlon performance at an event achieved between July 2017 and the final registration deadline of 21st December 2018.

If an age group becomes oversubscribed with eligible athletes then results achieved in the previous 12 months will supersede older results.

To be eligible for a qualifying place all athletes will be required to have completed their nominated race within 115% of the winner of their age group, although this does not guarantee you a place.

With world and European triathlon championships, there are qualifying races for each country.

The 2019 Pontevedra World Age Group Aquathlon Championships comprised a 1km swim and a 5km run.

Arlene with her dad and husband.

Arlene’s world aquathlon report

My first experience representing GB at Aquathlon was Ibiza 2018. I had raced age group triathlon for GB and I thought aquathlon could be fun – and a lot easier without the bike.

To be considered for qualification at the Pontevedra aquathlon, I submitted my Ibiza race time and my race at The Bikeless Beastie. I then received that fabulous email saying I was in.

My dad was in right from the start, with my husband needing some gentle coaxing to take time off for a wee trip to Spain. And from then it was a case of focusing on the hard work.

Pre-race nerves

In the lead up to the race I was super tense. I made numerous visits to Achilles Heel for massage and I was constantly bonding with my foam roller.

The day before the race we went to the Expo. I was struggling to let myself enjoy the experience and I was keen to get to the swim familiarisation, which I usually see as an excuse to get more open water swimming in.

There has been a lot of talk about water temperature (14C) and I struggle with the cold but the sun was out and air temperature was around 22C so I was optimistic. My husband Brendan and I had been in Loch Lomond the previous week at 9 degrees, from which I took comfort.

The swim familiarisation was fine and I wore a neoprene hat, but then I spent the next 24 hours wishing I had tested the water without it. I find that pre-race nerves play havoc with my mind!

Coming out the swim recce, my wetsuit got stuck on my watch, which prompted drastic action. I decided not to wear the watch for racing.

I found the 24 hours before the race was a state of limbo. I tried to behave normally and I looked for any distraction, but I kept slipping back into pre-race nerves mode. My poor support crew tried to please me and talked away about any subject they could think of.

The race was in the afternoon, which makes fuelling easier but also gives more time to go over anything and everything that could go wrong.

After a pre-race coffee and chocolate muffin, and a pep talk from my dad, my brain finally seemed to switch.

Set for racing

Aquathlon is my favourite thing. It’s just swimming and running. I kept telling myself: “It can’t be that hard. The sun’s out. Stop this stressing and just enjoy.”

The swim

In the water I saw a space and secured a good start position. From then on there was nothing else in my mind other than the race; no distractions.

Because of the current, the swim seemed a bit messy with a lot of cross crossing. I tried to hang on to a girl’s feet and ended up being kicked in the eye, but it was worth a shot.

It was so hard to tell how you were racing. The wave before us was five minutes ahead and it all became a big mixing pot once in the river. It was really a case of swimming hard and watching out for others.

From the turn, I kept thinking am I going hard enough? I pushed more and just I decided I would deal with the run when I got to it.

In and out of transition

Glad to get my wetsuit off, transition was a controlled affair. I was surprised to see my target competitor still in transition and I heard Brendan shout: “You’re smashing it.”  I left transition thinking: “It’s going ok.”

The run

On the run I soon caught up with my target and passed her. I thought: “That’s good but let’s keep chasing them down.”

I tried to pick up run speed while keeping my shoulders relaxed and I could hear my dad shouting: “Going well.”

Into the second lap it was warm and so I threw water over my head. Checking calves of the other competitors for their age groups, I become focused on ticking them off. I didn’t know who was in front of me but I thought: “Probably a few Americans!”

At the last turn it was only 3.55k to go. I focused on holding the effort until the blue carpet, then I just put it all out there.  With 300m to go, an F45-er danced past and I tried to go with her but I was trying to dodge two others and I was breaking.

As I reached the finish leg the announcer shouted a new world champ in F45 Richardson. She was 50m in front of me with two others who were not F45. Was it possible? I must be silver…

In the finish area I was waiting and wondering how do I find out? Why has he not announced? Is it possible? It must be, but is it?

Arlene is delighted with her silver place.

Silver, or not?

I met Brendan, who had come to same conclusion. I must be second. But the results took ages and I started to doubt it.  Had I put my wetsuit in the box, was I due a penalty, why was there a delay with  results?

Dad and Brendan needed beer. I think they had raced every metre with me and I tried to cool down . I did anything to pass the time until we got results…

I tried to convince myself it didn’t matter. I was happy with my race. I had raced hard, given everything. But, oh, please let it be true.

I gave in and found dad and Brendan at the bar looking confused at the results on their phones.

They were looking in the wrong place. I scrolled further to my category age F45 to 49.

I had done it.

We had done it!

Dreams of a podium

Honestly, I had dreamed of a medal. I think you have to imagine yourself somewhere if you are going to get there. I think you have to believe.

I started to doubt in the two weeks leading up to the race and I let the dream slip away. But on race day, I thought: “Why not? I’ve done the solid winter training and I’m as good as anyone out there.”

Thoughts on GB racing

The more I race GB, the more I enjoy the level of completion, the standard of event, the friendliness and fun competition, the opportunity to race against different nationalities and, for anyone who knows me well, the opportunity to swim and race in the sun.

If you can take family with you it’s a fantastic experience and a great reward for hard training and long suffering support crews.

When I raced the European Championships in Ibiza in 2018 I spent ages analysing the results (as we do). I was amazed by how fast the girls swim. I said to Crawford, Project3, they were 2.30mins ahead of me and I need to change that. And he did.

At his suggestion, I joined GTC in November, slipping quietly into the Tuesday upper master lane. Thank you to the guys in that lane. You know who you are and I look forward to smashing out some more Tuesday swims through the year.

Thank you to Crawford P3 and all the P3ers who understatedly led me to this point, an age group medallist! Thank you for the opportunity. And to Brendan who has done everything to make this possible for me. He put up with training, screaming, stretching, crying and even joined me at Wednesday morning P3 circuits and Loch Lomond swims.

If you are thinking about age group, I’d say, get out there, do it and enjoy the journey.

Also read: Amy takes gold in aquathlon world champs.