Glasgow Triathlon Club

Swimming, Cycling, Running. We do it best!

Athlete of the month: Hannah Kemlo

Hannah has been with GTC for six years and during this time she has been an active club member, a keen competitor and also a coach. Many club members will have been coached by Hannah at various swimming lessons, but especially the entry level sessions on a Sunday.

Hannah started doing triathlons almost a decade ago as a way to challenge herself. She confesses she wasn’t a sporty child but later discovered that you could be physically active without the need to throw, hit or catch a ball.

Aged 17, she took up rowing but ended up frustrated by half her boat crew who didn’t want to train properly.

“After that I switched to sailing.” Hannah says. “However, the problem with that sport was that I could never afford my own boat so I was always reliant on others choosing me in their team, which was often just a popularity contest.

“So, when I found out about triathlon I realised I could do a sport that wasn’t reliant on team members and one in which I could see my own hard work paying off. I have been involved with triathlon ever since.”

A podium place.

Hannah reveals that she is a “cyclist at heart” although she has grown to enjoy the swimming and running in triathlons. Since joining GTC she has seen her biggest improvements in swimming.

She says: “I was always last out the water before I started to improve and that was great for my ego because I’d spend the entire bike leg of a race overtaking people but it’s also good that I can now compete in the swim section as well as the cycling.”

Hannah does not have a favourite racing length but she looks for “great scenery and a race that involves a bit of off-road.”

In 2014, Hannah, who races in the senior age category, decided to take on her biggest challenge to date, the Celtman!. She says: “It turned out to be a terrible race for me but I then had one of my most successful seasons during which I podiumed in a few sprint distance races.”

Hannah with Celtman! supporters, Tom, her husband and friend Jo Gemmell.

Hannah’s triathlon tips

Join a club… preferably GTC

Enter a race. Don’t wait until you feel ready because you never will.

Don’t waste your money on optional extras like snazzy Garmins or race wheels, just spend the money on entering more races. The experience will be worth far more than any gadget.

Tom and Hannah.

What’s next for Hannah?

Away from triathlon Hannah has a busy schedule. She has embarked on a degree to become a nurse, as well as being committed to GTC coaching.

Coaching has been a fulfilling experience for Hannah. She says: “I’ve learned loads and it has opened up even more learning opportunities for me. It’s given me confidence, friendships, purpose and it lets me live triathlon through other people even when I’m unable to compete myself.

“It can be time consuming and exhausting if you let it but I always come home from a coaching session glad that I went and feeling more accomplished than I did before.”

Hannah’s new student commitments have affected her ability to enter races this year because she has a 15-week placement during the summer.

She says: “I do have a place at the Gladiator Iron Distance in June, which I was supposed to do last year but if I do make it to the event I will only do the half.

“I’m looking for something that will fit in right at the end of the season so perhaps I’ll enter the Lochgilphead or Craggy triathlons.

“Winter, for me, is easier and I have done as many of Scottish Cyclocross Series events that I’ve been able to and I hope to do the same again next winter. These are a great way to stay fit and to have a goal during the colder months.”

Hannah has competed successfully at the Scottish Cyclocross Series this winter.

Hannah has a great lifetime aspiration. “I’d like to go sub 12 hours for Iron distance, mainly because I know I can do it if everything comes together at the right time,” she says. “The hard bit with long distance stuff is getting that to happen while holding down a job and being human.

“Similarly I’d like to race for the whole 24 hours of the Strathpuffer (mountain bike event) but it’s even harder to turn up on the start line fit and well and trained in January.”

Jo and Hannah.

Many thanks to Hannah for answering our questions.