Vanrisch McLean Triathlete GBR Team Britain Triathlon

Vanrisch is a top level triathlete who started out with mountain biking before making the transition to triathlon. He now competes in Ironman races and even met his fiancee when she was training for one so it's definitely a lifestyle!

Have you always been into sport?

That’s an easy one…yes! Apparently it started as early as my first year of school, doing laps of the school playground. Running has always been a constant in my life. Over the years I’ve tried my hand at all sorts, from rugby in school to national level kickboxing, snowboarding (I’m a qualified instructor), cross country and downhill mountain biking and then more recently triathlon.

What made you decide to enter triathlon?

I had a couple of big accidents whilst downhill mountain biking about five years ago. I was unable to mountain bike for nearly a year, but my doctor said I could ride a road bike. I used it as a way to stay fit and see new places by travelling further and further afield each week and from there my love for road cycling just grew and grew. I then moved to London which makes mountain biking difficult and so I concentrated on cycling and running both commuting and in my free time. From there it was a natural progression for me to start competing in multisport events. Plus, I met my fiancée around this time and she was training for her first Ironman, I may have been trying to impress!

What’s been your best race to date?

Hmmm, I had two really good races last season. The first was the European Olympic Distance Championships in Lisbon, Portugal. I went there with the intention of just doing the race as part of a build up for some races later in the season and therefore I had low expectations. I think the course suited me well and I had one of those rare races where things just go right from start to finish. I ended up coming 4th in my AG and 21st overall which was a surprise to say the least! The second was Challenge Peguera, Mallorca 70.3 in October 2016. I’d had a long season already when I turned up in Mallorca plus this was a rough sea swim followed by a hilly bike course in hot weather. Not exactly ideal for me. I had a pretty bad swim which left me with a lot of work to do on the bike and run. I didn’t panic, got my head down and executed my plan as intended. There were a few moments on the run where I wanted to find a dark corner to hide in but I stuck at it and finished strongly. I won this race for my AG and came 22nd overall. I think I even took a few pro scalps too!

And your proudest achievement?

I’m not someone who shouts about my races too much, I hope, but my close friends and family help me to see things clearly sometimes. I’m told I should be really proud of my swimming as two years ago I couldn’t swim (a single stroke) and I swam 30 minutes for a 1900m middle distance swim last season. Personally, I’m really happy that I managed to qualify for GB Age Group in my first ever Olympic Distance triathlon at the Little Beaver Triathlon in 2015. I was so inexperienced that day but I gave it my all, just like I do every race.

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

My toughest race to date was actually the last one I did, the Ballbuster Duathlon in November 2016. This race involves doing a run lap around and up Box Hill in Surrey (part of the 2012 Olympic road race course), followed by three laps on the bike and another lap running. The weather was dreadful that day with low temperatures and driving rain. I sped off from the gun racing against one of my club mates which led to my implosion on the first lap of the bike. I wasn’t dressed properly for the weather and as tiredness set in so did the cold. By lap three I was shivering so hard I could hardly hold onto the handle bars! The final run lap was more of a crawl, I was so fatigued. Climbing Box Hill was the worst 10 minutes of my year. I was helped off the finish line by a really nice volunteer as I couldn’t walk anymore. It took me until January to recover, that race truly lived up to its name.

How do you overcome setbacks?

One step at a time. I try to remain objective, look long term and create a realistic plan. I have a great support network around me who are always willing to tell me the truth, without them I’d be lost.

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

Long term planning and consistent hard work will pay dividends.  

What are your goals for 2017?

This season I’ll be racing almost entirely the 70.3 distance starting with Ironman 70.3 St. Polten in Austria in May. I’m not yet sure how competitive I can be at this distance so it’s difficult to say. I’m going to set out my goals based on this race but come the end of the season, as long as I’m still improving, getting faster in the water and I’ve still got a smile on my face then it’s all good! Oh, and I’d like to run a sub-1:15 half marathon off the bike too!

Who do you take your inspiration from?

My inspiration in sport has always been former 200m & 400m world record holder Michael Johnson. As a kid growing up in the 90’s I had dreams of being a world-class runner. My mum bought me his autobiography “Slaying the Dragon” from a discount bookshop, which can only be described as a combination of the story of Michael’s life and a self-help book. The dos and don’ts of being successful in sport, in business and in your personal life. He would talk about how his achievements came through research, structured planning and good old hard work. He was always an unbelievably gifted athlete but he never rested on his laurels, he studied hard at school to prepare solid foundations for his future. This all resonated with me.

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

As I have grown older, I’ve gained a greater appreciation for the natural environment and the ever increasing impact we have on it. To protect the future of our planet, we all need to start finding news ways of living that reduce the damage we are causing to it. I love working with Sundried because they are a forward-thinking, producing great technical apparel in a sustainable, conscientious, low carbon way. They are really trying to make a difference, not to mention their apparel is great quality, fashionable and is incredibly comfortable to wear.

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