Glasgow Triathlon Club

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Interview with new GTC president David Brown

Glasgow Triathlon Club recently announced David Brown as the new president. Many members will already know David and will have met him at sessions over the past few years. Here we find out more about who he is, his life-long love of sport and his aspirations as club president.

David has been keen on sport since childhood and he reveals that sports day was the highlight of every primary school year.  At secondary school, he got involved with as many sports clubs as he could.

David says: “I’ve always got a buzz from competition of any sort but it was really the social element of sport that I loved the most. It didn’t matter if it was organised athletics training or a pupil-led table tennis after school club, I was there for the patter. 

“As a by-product of going to so many clubs, I found as I got older I had a decent level of fitness and I could turn my hand to most sports.”

David’s family have long been a source of encouragement within sport. He says: “Athletics was my first sporting love and I grew up running for Clydesdale Harriers, which my dad had got me into as he was also a member. 

“I primarily ran middle distance – 800/1500m – but eventually branched out to 3k steeplechase and I had a fondness for long jump. Cross country season was a regular part of my annual sporting calendar, too. 

“Then, in my late teens, I started coaching for the junior section of the club which began to open up some doors.”

Representing Clydesdale at Scotstoun in his late teens.
David and his dad at a cross country running event.
Community sports work for West Dunbartonshire Sports Development.

After school, David went to Caledonian University to study a degree in Sport & Active Lifestyles Promotion, which he describes as a mash up of sports coaching and business studies. While studying, he started doing part-time sports coaching in his local area of Clydebank and slowly built up a number of coaching qualifications. 

Having competed his degree, he continued to coach for West Dunbartonshire Sport Development and worked primarily with primary school aged children, as well as pupils in secondary schools and adults. 

He says: “My main remit was within athletics, but I also worked on swimming and basketball projects ranging from school-based weekly programmes and community events to club sport. “

David furthered his studies with a fitness instructing qualification and he has almost completed his qualification as a personal trainer. 

He says: “Due to Covid, coaching work within schools became sparse but I managed to take on a duty manager role within a small local gym. I’ve gained so much within sport, in so many capacities, so I love helping others reach sporting goals and generally stay active.”

David’s first triathlon, the Galashiels Sprint, in 2014.
Almost exactly a year ago at the Glasgow Uni Sprint Aquathlon at Bellahouston.

The start of a triathlon career

David’s progression to triathlon came about thanks to his dad, Cliff. David says: “Dad is a pretty impressive athlete and he has always been a great source of knowledge and encouragement. We have also developed a healthy rivalry where ‘house records’ are constantly brandished about.

“Dad still holds the majority of them! I also have a younger brother, Mark, who has dabbled in running over the years, too.

“All three of us are incredibly competitive in all aspects of life so during Christmas celebrations in 2013, after quite a few beers, I told both my dad and Mark that I could beat them both in a race over any distance. 

“At this point, I wasn’t totally clued up on triathlon. My dad being savvy to that fact, upped the stakes by challenging us to an Ironman. Mark and I enthusiastically, albeit naively, agreed.

“Cut to the next morning where Mark and I were shown a video of what we are in for. While Mark immediately bowed out, I decided to see it through.”

In 2014, David and Cliff completed a few sprint distance triathlons, an Olympic distance tri and a middle distance tri, before Ironman Mallorca in September of that year. 

David won by 20 minutes. He says: “I should explain that dad was hit by a calf injury during the marathon and I managed to overtake him. He still completed the race though.

“The Ironman was the hardest and greatest thing I’ve ever done!”

GTC was David’s chosen club when he realised he would need to include swimming into his Ironman training. He says: “Dad had joined the club a few years before, so when we had signed up for Ironman Mallorca, I became a member, too, as I knew my swimming needed a lot of work. 

“I first joined in 2014 for a year but I didn’t fully commit to the club until 2017. That’s how long it took to recover from the Ironman!”

David is also gives special mention to other races. He says: “I really like the Bishopbriggs Sprint, as it’s one of the few opportunities where we get so many members of the club together for a big event. The course is also suitable for both beginners and more experienced athletes. 

“I’m proud to say I’ve had a couple of age group podiums since taking up triathlon but I feel my best race was at the Ayr Sprint a couple of years ago where I knocked about a minute off my 750m swim time, enjoyed a really comfortable bike and ran a sub-20 minute 5k finishing in eighth overall. I was delighted.”

Ironman warm up.
David mid marathon at Ironman Mallorca 2014.

‘GTC is such a special community’

David is a huge fan of GTC. He says: “The club has a fantastic coaching team, which I am proud to say I am part of. I have first-hand experience of seeing massive improvements in my own race performances – my swimming has really benefited – due to the vast experience and input from some brilliant coaches. 

“I find the triathlon community as a whole is an incredibly positive group to be a part of but I really think there is something very special about the GTC community. It is friendly and encouraging but every session offers some healthy competition, if that’s what you’re after.

“There are also some top characters within the club so I always enjoy some good patter.”

David and his partner Heather.

A new role as GTC president

David was keen to take on the president’s role at GTC. He says: “I’m relatively early on in a career within the health and fitness industry. I’ve spent most of my 20s working with children and I am beginning to work a lot more with adults, but regardless of age, I have a real passion for seeing anyone make physical activity a more regular and sustainable part of their lives. 

“Club sport has given me opportunities to improve fitness, given me access to information about how to stay healthier, opened up more social interactions and even allowed me to develop my career through coaching opportunities. 

“I decided to take on the role as president so that I can hopefully have a say on giving our members similar opportunities to those that I was given.”

David says he has been well supported so far in the role. He adds: “I’ve had loads of help and we have a fantastic committee and board of trustees, who have been so welcoming of me. I have already been involved in some strategy meetings where the future of our club is being discussed, with the great responses from roughly 170 of our members being at the centre of the decision making process. 

“Sean was also kind enough to give up some of his time to talk me through his experience as president, which have me an insight into what the role could look like for me. 

“Over the last five or so years, the club has gone from strength to strength with an increased membership in both the senior and junior sections, new sessions being added for members with coach development being encouraged and club events running successfully. 

“This is, of course, down to having such a great team at GTC, but Sean was always there to guide the club through all of these different elements and I hope that I can come even close to the positive impact he’s had during my time as president. 

“Also I want to give a special mention to my partner Heather, who is a continual source of encouragement and support in everything I do.”

David sees his role as president as “representing, promoting and communicating for, and within, the club”.

He adds:  “My role will cover aspects such as encouraging others to join the club and showcasing some of the strengths and facilities our club has to offer and liaising between members, the committee/trustees and external services such as Triathlon Scotland or other clubs. 

“I love a natter so my hope is that it will stand me in good stead within the triathlon community.”

Looking to the future, David is keen that as president he can encourage more people into the sport, although he is also aware that GTC needs to make sure it can sustainably take on new members while still supporting current members’ needs. 

He adds: “In the near future, I hope that I can help guide the club smoothly from where we are now due to Covid, back to a resemblance of what the club looked like a year ago.

“I hope that the club can start to bring back the great sessions we had before lockdown and that racing returns as soon as sensibly possible, including our GTC races, so that we all have something to aim for.

“I also hope we can get more of our members involved with coaching.”

We wish David all the best with his new role as president and when we are able to attend sessions again, please do take the time to say hello to him and enjoy a natter and some of his “patter”.

GTC podcast: Kate Pearson in conversation with David Brown