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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
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 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.