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Dan Walsh Athlete Ambassador

cycling riding bike duathlon duathlete

Dan found himself with a passion for duathlon after seeing his wife complete the Sundried Southend Triathlon. He talks to Sundried about life in this sport.

Have you always been into sport?

Yes, I’ve always been an active person. Growing up I played football for my local team, badminton at county level, and represented my school at district athletics.

What made you decide to enter the world of duathlon?

I’ve been a keen road cyclist since 2012, catching the cycling bug around the time of the London Olympics, and have ridden sportives, time trials and also commuted in central London by bicycle (only for the brave).

As I committed more and more of my spare time to cycling I felt it needed a purpose and so I started training for and riding Wednesday evening Time Trials with Essex Roads Cycling Club.

In the summer of 2018 my wife competed in the Sundried Southend Triathlon which inspired me to look at what events I could compete in. I’ve never been a keen swimmer so wasn’t drawn to triathlon but when I discovered duathlon it seemed like the perfect fit.

I’ve really enjoyed the duathlons I’ve done so far; the competitive element is challenging and rewarding at the same time and the welcoming spirit within the multi-sport community is fantastic, especially for someone like me just starting out in competition.

What’s been your favourite race to date and why?

That would be my first duathlon, the Great Notley Autumn Duathlon in October this year.

I started my running training in July and already had plenty of kilometres of cycling under my belt so I was feeling reasonably confident but also aware I was going into the unknown as a complete duathlon novice.

Come the big day I was competing against a field of over 100 including my brother and a friend who both had lots more running experience than me but not quite as much in the cycling department so we were evenly matched. I paced myself well through the first run and came into T1 a little behind them both but was confident I’d make up time on the bike. On the second lap of the bike I managed to pass them both and came out of T2 still in the lead but not wanting to look over my shoulder because I knew they’d be breathing down my neck.

With about 400 metres to go my brother came past me however, unfortunately for him, he developed a nasty stitch that forced him to slow to walking pace allowing me to get back ahead of him (without gloating I should add). I ended up with a time of 1:13:54, putting me 24th overall and 16th in the Veteran category. I was really pleased with my result and couldn’t wait to continue training and book more duathlons.

And your proudest achievement?

Finishing an event, or even a tough training session, and knowing I’ve pushed myself and done the best I’m able to makes me proud.

Have you ever had any racing disasters/your toughest race yet?

My only minor disaster so far came at the Great Notley Autumn Duathlon. The exit from T1 was wet and muddy which clogged my cleats up and when I jumped on the bike I couldn’t clip into the pedals. I think I lost about a minute just trying to keep moving forward and get my cleats to engage which was pretty frustrating, especially as I knew my strongest element of the race would be the bike. Tri shoes are on my Christmas list now so hopefully it won’t happen again.

How do you overcome setbacks?

I look to those around me, especially my wife and brother, and how they deal with setbacks and use their positive attitude to help me get over whatever I’m struggling with be that injury, lack of motivation or self-doubt.

The online communities of Strava and Instagram are great for support and motivation too, whatever I’m going through there’s always someone who’s seen it and done before and is happy to offer the advice and encouragement I need to get past it.

What is the best bit of advice you wish someone had told you before you started competing?

Pacing is critical - if the whole field zooms away at the start (let’s hope not but hypothetically speaking) stick to your plan, don't panic and put yourself in the red to keep up because you'll pay for it later and who knows, by managing your effort appropriately you might even pass the whole field later on when they’re spent.

What are your goals for 2019?

I’ve got seven duathlons either booked or on my radar for 2019, the summit of which is the London Duathlon in Richmond Park in September. I’m also taking part in the Water Aid Triathlon at Hanningfield Reservoir as part of a relay team. In terms of goals, I want to get at least three top-ten age-group finishes in the duathlons and finish a sprint duathlon in under an hour.

Who do you take your inspiration from?

My wife inspires me. If I see that she’s run, cycled or swam an amount of kilometres in a week I want to push myself to do the same or more. It’s like having a live-in training partner. In fact, that’s exactly what it is!

What do you like about Sundried and what’s your favourite bit of our kit?

I like Sundried kit because it’s stylish, well-made, premium quality and ethical. I have quite a few favourite bits of Sundried kit: the men's trisuit is what I always wear to compete in, the Roteck 3.0 men's leggings are great for running and made with lots of clever details like the smartphone pocket, hi-vis reflective stripes, cuff zips for easy on/off and breathable panels behind the knees. Lastly, when I'm not training or racing I pretty much live in the Matterhorn Hoodie, it's so warm and soft with a generous hood and huge pockets it's like a sleeping bag I can wear but on occasions I've done evening/night runs in it so it's incredibly versatile.

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