Giuseppe is a competitive sprinter who has also taken part in some of the toughest adventure challenges in the world. He talks to Sundried about a life full of sport.
Have you always been into sport?
Yes! At the age of 10, my primary school entered me into the South London Primary School Athletics Championships 100 yard race. I won, much to the delight of my mum, who ran onto the track at the finish line. First race win, first major public embarrassment!
What made you decide to enter the world of athletics?
I vividly remember watching Pietro Mennea (Italian 200m sprinter and gold medallist in the 1980 Olympics) run the 200m in 1979 to set a new world record of 19.92. That was it, I was hooked on the 200m and have never looked back.
What’s been your favourite race to date and why?
My first race back in 1979 is as clear in my head now as it was back then, but winning the 2019 European 200m Championships in Italy (beating the current world indoor 200m champion) has got to be my favourite.
The 3 days prior to the 200m final, I had already run a heat and semi-final in the 400m, and then a heat and semi-final of the 200m. So going into the 200m final I was feeling confident, pumped, prepared and had a game plan to execute; to catch the indoor champion within the first 100m. As fastest qualifier, I had the best lane - lane 4 - so when I caught the rabbit by 80m, I knew all I had to do was keep calm, stay strong and just stay ahead for the last 120m!
And your proudest achievement?
Competing in four different sports at national and international levels: athletics, Judo, adventure racing, and triathlon.
Have you ever had any racing disasters/your toughest race yet?
Being airlifted out of the jungle in Borneo during the Eco Challenge Adventure Racing World Championships in 2000 was pretty depressing. I had decided to take a few years out from sprinting and that the world's toughest adventure race – a 500km, 10-day multi-discipline race – was a perfect way to blow off the cobwebs!
My team (Team Targus) were not doing too badly after 6 hours of sea kayaking, a 24-hour mountain trek, a 12-hour coastal swim, another 6 hours of sea kayaking, a 20-hour uphill mountain bike ride and a 24-hour jungle trek. And that was only halfway!
On day 5, we get caught up in a pretty intense nighttime typhoon and upon reaching a river crossing early next morning, we realised that there was no way we could cross it safely, so we broke out the emergency radio and called for immediate evacuation.
If you ever get to watch the race on Youtube, you'll see that we were not the only team to suffer setbacks (a bamboo spear through someone's chest, a team chased by a giant swarm of jungle wasps and an outbreak of leptospirosis come to mind...)
How do you overcome setbacks?
After Eco Challenge, I decided to write a feature for an adventure racing website and upon seeing it published, I went to night-school to do a course in journalism. Between 2001 and 2003, I was commissioned to report on the Raid Gauloise (a 1000km race in Vietnam), the Southern Traverse (500km in the South Island, New Zealand) and helped organise, compete and report on the Arctic Team Challenge in Greenland.
It was during this time that I became fascinated with evidence-based training, metabolic fitness testing and heart rate monitoring. In 2003, I opened my first personal training gym, where every member completed resting and sub-maximal metabolic gas analysis before they started a 12-week program with me. Every aspect of their training, whether it was in my gym or outdoors, was monitored, measured, analysed and only then would I write the next phase of their training. Within 3 years, I had successfully trained hundreds of endurance athletes up to international level. In 2013, after the birth of my second child, I went back to sprinting.
What advice do you wish you'd been given before you started competing?
I was lucky that I had great sprint coaches from as early as 11, but where I suffered most was in the long stuff. Mentally and physically preparing for harsh and potentially dangerous jungle, polar ice-cap and mountainous environments is impossible if you live in SW London!
The longer the event, the higher the chance that something can go wrong, so think about how specific your training regime and environments are based on your event. Training on Box Hill in Surrey during the winter did not prepare me for the jungle in Borneo in August. Also, get a coach from day 1 and stop guessing your way around a training program.
What are your goals for 2020?
European Masters Indoor Athletics Championships in Portugal, March 2020 and the World Masters Indoor Athletics Championship, Toronto August 2020.
Who do you take your inspiration from?
Difficult to say, as I feel that I have an endless supply of energy and enthusiasm coming from somewhere, but if I had to choose one thing, it would be that I train to compete, not just to take part. Also, having two young children keeps me on my toes.
What do you like about Sundried and what’s your favourite bit of our kit?
Sundried Monte Emilius Leggings are my go-to piece of kit. Every day, in all conditions for all types of training.