Masha (Maria) Mott joined Glasgow Triathlon Club a year ago and fits her training around being a mother of three young children and working as a project manager and translator. She is originally from Russia and came to Glasgow 16 years ago.
Sport has long been a passion for Masha. She says: “Where I grew up children spent a lot of time outdoors. It is just what we all did.
“At school, I swam, played tennis and did cross country skiing in the winter and lots of hiking and kayaking in the summer.
“I was also a part of the school’s shooting club for about two years and did some ice-skating as well.”
Masha become a keen boxer, too. She says: “There was a European Boxing Championship in my home town and I ended up working as an interpreter for a team from England.
“I learned a lot about the sport in the process and thought I would give it a try myself, just for a laugh. It turns out I loved it so much that I joined a university boxing club.”
A move to Glasgow
When Masha moved to Glasgow in 2004, she was encouraged by a friend to sign up for a 10k race. She says: “I found myself alone in a new city, depressed and with an eating disorder spiralling out of control.
“A friend suggested I come along for a 10k race. I think it was Great Scottish Run 10k. So I went and I was hooked from then on. It was my first 10k and I did it in under 49 minutes.
“After that, I would describe myself as a seasonal runner. I’d sign up to various races in summer, spring or autumn and hibernate over the winter.
“Running helped me understand how powerful my body is and how important it is to nourish it properly in order to be able to be in top form. Staying stick thin was no longer a priority and running faster over longer distances was.
“Then, when my father was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, running took on another meaning because I could use it as the basis to raise funds for charity.”
A marathon first
Masha is proud of her running achievements, including her first marathon in Paris in 2011. She says: “I never intended to run a marathon; it happened spontaneously. I was on maternity leave with my first son, Allan, who is now nine.
“Runner’s World magazine had a Super Six series competition, where they selected six applicants and helped them train to run their best marathon in Paris.
“Also, we all got given our very own Timex Ironman watches to track our progress.
“There were some training weekends with the rest of the team members in Birmingham. I met so many interesting people and it was all good fun. The day of the marathon proved to be glorious weather and we all did our best to stick to our targets. That was the start of the longer distance running for me.”
An introduction to triathlon
Masha joined GTC after friends suggested she go along to a run session to “try it out”. She says: “I really enjoyed the session and I decided after that to join the club.”
Masha likes the variety of sports in triathlon. She says: “I enjoy all of the disciplines. Probably swimming and running are my favourite though, for now anyway. I wish I could do more cycling and I hope that when children are older it will be possible.
“I also like the format of triathlon races. Regardless of how fast or slow you are, you are always racing your own race because of wave starts.”
Like so many club members, swimming is the area in which Masha has seen the greatest improvement. She says: “Swimming was my weakest sport when I joined the club and I remember dreading the first swim session at Maryhill. All of the coaches have been amazing, helpful and very patient.
“I stuck with it and slowly it got easier. I also took part in the Women into Open Water (WOW) course run by GTC in the summer with a few training sessions in Loch Lomond and it made me realise how much I enjoy open water swimming.”
So far, Masha has taken part in sprint triathlons, but she is keen to do longer distances in the future. She says: “My first triathlon was in Kelso last summer. Until then I felt like I was not a proper tri club member. It was pouring with rain, but it was such an experience, nonetheless. I had the biggest smile ever when I finished!”
Masha’s training tips
When Masha has a tough training session or race she is motivated by several things. She says: “Seeing the smiling faces of my three little monkeys at the finish helps to motivate me – and, of course, cake!
“I like reading and listening to motivational books, too. They help a lot, especially when progress is slow. ‘Four mums in a boat’ was the last one I read. It is an inspirational story. ‘Pants of perspective’ by Anna McDuff was also excellent.
“And none of the training or racing would be possible without my husband looking after the children while I am away. Compromise is key.”
Masha’s goals for 2020
Some of the goals may be affected by the Covid-19 situation but as it stands Masha hopes to take part in her first ultra running race. She says: “The friend who suggested my first 10k has also suggested we run our first joint ultra this year. We have signed up for The Wall, which is 69 miles from Carlisle to Newcastle along Hadrian’s wall. This will be my biggest challenge to date.
“I have also signed up for a couple of sprint triathlons, a cycling sportive, a couple of marathons and my first swim-run event in Loch Lomond.
“I also want to do a longer open water swim event but have not yet decided which one.”
In the future, Masha has her eye on an Ironman. She says: “I suspect I will eventually put my now vintage Timex Ironman watch to its intended use and sign up to do an Ironman. Maybe even next year.
“I would like to do a race with one of my children, too, sometime. All three of them take part in parkruns now and enjoy swimming and cycling so there is hope!”
Masha’s triathlon tips
Don’t be afraid. Join your local club, turn up to coached sessions and meet like-minded people. Inevitably you will get fitter and stronger.
Don’t get discouraged if you miss a session or two, or if the progress is slow.
The world of triathlon is yours to be discovered. It has definitely transformed my life for the better.