• Lucy Saxelby Athlete Ambassador

    triathlete cycling Sundried ambassador

    Lucy is an athlete who races full Ironman triathlons as well as challenging Swimruns. She talks to Sundried about racing highs and lows.

    Have you always been into sport?

    I have always been active and spend a lot of time outdoors. As a child and teenager I did ballet and tap dancing, gymnastics, and horse riding and competed in showjumping competitions on my ponies and rode a BMX. I lived in Cape Town in South Africa when I was very small and so grew up being very comfortable with water/swimming as we did so much of it.

    What made you decide to enter the world of triathlon?

    I met my husband Jon when I was 29 and at the time I was training for a few half marathons and marathons to raise money for charity. He never really encouraged me to run long distance and said it would be bad for my joints in the future and that triathlon would be less damaging. More to shut him up than anything else, I entered myself into a sprint triathlon. I then gradually increased the distance until I was doing full Ironman distance races and had got my marathon back! My joints are still fine and he’s now given up moaning...at least about running!

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

    This is such a hard one to answer, as I have done some fantastic races in some incredible places. I have raced Ironman Wales twice and it is without doubt the best supported race I’ve competed in and has the best atmosphere and “buzz” throughout the race and for the days leading up to it in Tenby. The course is also extremely challenging which I love, particularly the bike course, and the crowd make you feel like you are riding in the Tour de France each time you ride back into Tenby up “Heartbreak Hill”.

    And your proudest achievement?

    Probably achieving 6th place in my age group and 23rd overall lady in the 2016 Zofingen ITU Powerman Long Distance Duathlon World Championships (6 mile run – 90 mile bike- 18 mile run).

    Have you ever had any racing disasters?

    I’ve definitely had one or two...including doing the cycle leg of a duathlon wearing one cycle shoe and one running shoe, racing with my trisuit on backwards (even worse because it was a sponsored one and was used as the front page of an article online), or not tightening the skewer on my back wheel sufficiently and my wheel falling off 50 miles into the bike leg of Hever Castle Triathlon at 22 mph. Ouch!

    What's been your toughest race yet?

    The 2015 Alcobendas ETU Standard Distance European Championships (near Madrid). The weather was horrific – really cold with torrential rain and the course had 48 roundabouts with super-slippery white road markings at every one! I sat and watched so many casualties with horrific road rash being helped into the medical tent and I actually cried because I was so scared to race in such dangerous conditions.

    The weather grew progressively worse for the standard race in which I was racing. My race went okay until my chain jammed going up an incline and, before I had fully unclipped, I was crashed into from behind by a Spanish athlete. Sore but not broken, I carried on and somehow managed a bronze medal in my 35-39 age category. Many athletes in my race pulled out with hypothermia and I was thankful that day for my extra layer of fat compared to some of the 7 stone whippets!

    How do you overcome setbacks?

    I’ve had my share of injuries over the years that have prevented me from training and racing in exactly the way I had planned at certain times and they are definitely frustrating! I’d say to always try to find other ways to train, avoiding stressing the injured area – so if you need to have time off running then spend more time in the pool and gym. After you begin to run again, you might find you are a better all rounder due to concentrating on those other areas, which you would usually neglect!

    What advice do you wish you’d been given before you started competing?

    That quality is far better than quantity! I used to over-train and injure myself! I have also improved my run speed by sticking to one interval session per week, one longer run and one or two shorter runs. Running every day for miles without any aim or focus doesn’t really improve anything, except the probability of you getting injured!

    What are your goals for 2019 and 2020?

    In 2019 I raced my 3rd ever ultra run, the Longhorn 60k and was delighted coming 2nd lady, as this was my first race back after a few months off following an operation in 2018. I am racing Equinox24 in September in a 3-person team, where we will be aiming for 80k each.

    This year I have also raced my first two Breca Swimrun races – Gower and Buttermere – where I placed 9th and 12th in a mixed team with my fellow Lincoln Tri Club teammate Steve. We are racing again at Breca Coniston in October, but my aim for 2020 is to get fast enough for us to podium in Swimrun races and, I might not have mentioned this to Steve yet...but I’d love for us to qualify for the Swimrun World Championships!

    Who do you take your inspiration from?

    I run social media accounts for businesses for my day job so spend hours on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook! I follow lots of sporty people online who compete in the same kind of events that I do and I am inspired on a daily basis by the training sessions and races that some of my friends and followers post about.

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

    I love Sundried’s understated yet modern look and find the material perfect for long sessions as it dries so quickly and reduces chafing/increases comfort on really long runs. I love Sundried’s Grivola 2.0 training shirt, the Tour Noir Women’s Vest and the Women’s Performance Tri Suit.

    Posted by Alexandra Parren
  • Matt Thomas Athlete Ambassador

    Sundried athlete ambassador triathlon running

    Matt is an ex-rugby player who turned to triathlon after a bad injury. He talks to Sundried about the highs and lows of triathlon. 

    Have you always been into sport?

    As a competitive swimmer from a very young age, then a rugby player through my 20s and now a triathlete, I have always been involved in competitive sport. I love competing, especially the nerves at the beginning, and the euphoria of finishing, winning, or realising I’ve reached my goals. I have either raced or been part of a team pretty much my whole life, with no slowing down as yet!

    What made you decide to enter the world of triathlon?

    It was almost by bad luck; I unfortunately suffered a serious head injury during a rugby game. While recovering, I got back in the water and bought a bike, mainly for my own sanity and to keep fit. But by happy coincidence, I regained the love of swimming and became pretty good on the bike! It was only the run I had to work on….before I knew it, with a little push from family, here I am!

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

    Ironman Elsinore 70.3 European Championships 2018. It’s pretty much the only race so far where everything went right! As anyone who does Ironman knows, it’s a long day with so many things that can go wrong. It’s also a race where my whole family came to support. To have everyone that helps and supports you all together at the finish line makes the early mornings, late nights, painful sessions and the sacrifices made by my family all worthwhile.

    And your proudest achievement?

    Ironman Hamburg 2019. I was an hour slower than my target time and still my proudest sporting achievement. The race was tough, very tough. Germany was experiencing a heatwave making the marathon an unexpected 33 degrees. The bike was hot, very windy and the swim was like a rugby match. During the second half of the run, the heat hit me hard. I had to dig deeper than I’ve ever dug before. It was the first time I’ve ever thought about giving up, I even thought about cheating! I spent over 2 hours in a very dark place, but I learnt so much about myself and what I’m capable of!

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

    Ironman Cozumel 2018. This time I was ready for the heat, but a small disaster struck. Around 60 miles of the bike leg, I hit a rogue water bottle on the road through a feed station. I tried to miss it but crashed, watching my bike bounce up the road in front of me. I realised I’d hurt my hip but didn’t think much of it. I fixed the double puncture it caused, got back on and completed the bike. It was only 2 miles into the marathon that I realised there was something wrong with my hip. I was in a lot of pain but gritted my teeth and finished the race. It later turned out that that I’d fractured my pelvis. Maybe doing a marathon with a broken hip should be my proudest achievement instead?!

    How do you overcome setbacks?

    My biggest setback was a serious head injury. As a proud Welshman, to be told that I could never play rugby again was a major blow. It was a way of life, a circle of friends, and I loved the game. While recovery took some months, with any setback you have to stay positive. I set goals, short term at first, then aimed longer as I progressed.  It may not be the case every time in the future, but with every setback I’ve had in my sporting career and personal life, I’ve come back stronger.

    What advice do you wish you'd been given before you started competing?

    That not every training session will go well and you can’t get a PB in every race. Just because you don’t better yourself in a race, doesn’t mean you haven’t learned how to be stronger next time!

    What are your goals for 2019 and 2020?

    To qualify for the Ironman 70.3 World Championships and hopefully represent GB at the ITU Long Course World Championships

    Who do you take your inspiration from?

    I know most would say the professional athletes like Lucy Charles, Lionel Sanders, Jan Frodeno. Sure, these athletes are amazing, and what their bodies and minds can achieve is incredible. But for me, it’s the age grouper triathletes the people that come in at the last hour of an Ironman, the people that strive to achieve being their best, usually when there are so many odds stacked against them or people telling them they can’t. You see some people doing triathlon and society dictates that they should never be there, but they are and they’re killing it. If I had half the heart and determination of some of these people, I’d be a far better athlete myself.

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

    Sundried have a great ethos. The world is changing, especially our environment, and Sundried are changing with it. I love the eco-friendly ethics, but I especially like the ability to create outstanding race quality kit, but not at an earth shattering cost like most brands.

    My favourite bit of kit has to be the trisuit. I’ve tried a fair few brands in my time, most at eye watering prices, but this ticks all boxes. It’s comfortable, ample cushion for the bike (well needed over 180km!), the underarm doesn’t restrict arm movement during the swim and it’s great to run in! It’s also very very fast of course!

    Posted by Alexandra Parren
  • Travis Bramley Athlete Ambassador

    triathlete cycling racing Sundried

    Travis is a junior athlete who has been swimming and running from a very young age. He talks to Sundried about highs and lows of triathlon and cycling.

    Have you always been into sport? 

    Yes, I’ve always been involved in a sport of some kind, but from a very early age I took up swimming thanks to my parents and began to run competitively in my early years of secondary school.

    What made you decide to enter the world of triathlon?

    Triathlon was a natural progression from the sports I already had a passion for. Having swam and run from a young age, I was successful in a pentathlon sub-sport known as Biathle (run/swim/run), winning a silver medal at a World Championships in Cyprus. It wasn’t really until after this that I began to really focus on triathlon.

    Two years later, I would go on to win the British Elite Youth Championships and Super Series - so it was a good move! 2019 has opened a new chapter of my sporting career however, as I have made the decision to focus on cycling. This was down to a number of reasons, however the primary reasons are firstly for enjoyment and secondly, I believe I can achieve more in cycling than I would have done continuing down the elite drafting triathlon route. 

    What has been your favourite race to date and why?

    My favourite race has to be Super League Jersey in 2018, where I finished 4th in the International Junior event, metres off the podium. This was my best result since 2015 and made me believe again that I could compete against the best in the sport. Not only this, to be a part of what can only be called a festival of triathlon, was just brilliant. The whole island had a fantastic buzz about it during the race weekend and we were really made to feel like professional athletes. If anyone ever gets the chance to compete in the age group events - do it!

    And your proudest achievement?

    My proudest achievement was winning the British Elite Youth Championships 2015 in Liverpool. Whilst this was a number of years ago now, I know it is something that nobody can take away from me and not many people can say they have been an elite British Triathlon champion!

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

    The toughest race I’ve done was the European Youth Championship Qualifiers held near Durham in 2016. As I will go on to explain in the next question, I was suffering with a back injury at the time (but didn’t know it yet). My results from the previous season suggested that I ought to have been one of the favourites to make the team. I came off the bike with a slender lead, having broken away from the rest of the field with another athlete, however a few hundred metres on into the run, the injury took hold and I simply could not run. It took me a long time to mentally recover from this, as I knew it would be my last opportunity to compete as a Youth for Great Britain. I had been unlucky up to this point to have not raced for GBR previously and this result only added to my disappointment.

    How do you overcome setbacks?

    As mentioned, in 2016, I was forced to take around 18 months out of sport due to a lower back injury, whereby MRI scans showed clear breaks through my facet joints either side of my L5 vertebrae. As a 17 year old athlete, having had a season like I did in 2015, this was extremely difficult to deal with. I dealt with it in various stages if I’m honest. I kept involved in triathlon, helping coach at my local club, Plymouth Triathlon Club, gaining my Level 1 coaching qualification, as well as helping organise a number of multi sport events.

    I attempted to return to sport a number of times during this period unsuccessfully, each time the fall was progressively more challenging. My family, as well as a number of close friends, helped keep me positive through this time and I tried to alter my focus to other aspects of life, such as learning to drive! In general though, I am a very analytical person, meaning I tackle set-backs in that way. I pick them apart to try and understand why they occurred, allowing me to try and input some control measures to avoid similar future set-backs!

    What advice do you wish you'd been given before you started competing?

    I’m not sure I can remember that far back! If I could give some advice to myself though, it would be not to take myself and sport so seriously, as well as to take more time to enjoy and soak up the good times. Similarly, not to be so hard on myself if I need a day off or have a poor period of training.

    What are your goals for 2019 and 2020?

    My summer racing season for 2019 has largely finished. My goal at the start of the season was to earn my 2nd category licence, which I achieved by Easter, sooner than I expected! Since then, I have been trying to learn the craft of racing, throwing myself in at the deep end and improve technically, as well as physically. Winter 2019 will hopefully offer me some opportunities to race on the track, notably the BUCS Championships (British Universities), where I hope to make the Loughborough University Team and again, throw myself in head first! In 2020, I hope to ride my first Premier Calendar race with a team (the top tier of British domestic racing). I also want to try my best to earn my first category licence, which I am under no illusion is an ambitious and optimistic target!

    Who do you take your inspiration from?

    I take inspiration from a number of sources. First of all, my peers. Being at Loughborough University, I am never far from world class athletes, be that the triathletes I used to train with, the many Commonwealth & Olympic level athletes that I see in the university gym or the other athletes on the cycling performance squad. If I was to choose a sporting role model, I would say Jenson Button, who is not only a fantastic athlete, but also comes across as a humble, empathetic and switched on individual through his charity work and competing in triathlon!

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

    As a Geography student at university, I love the fact Sundried is conscious about its environmental footprint and committed to being a low carbon company. It is also really refreshing to see quality kit being offered at an affordable price! The Peloton Training Bib shorts are my favourite product, comfortable, well-fitted and at £50, extremely reasonable

    Posted by Alexandra Parren
  • Matt Pullan Athlete Ambassador

    Sundried athlete ambassador triathlete Outlaw triathlon

    Matt is an Ironman triathlete who uses grit and determination to get him to the finish line. He talks to Sundried about training and racing.

    Have you always been into sport?

    I've been into triathlon for about ten years, so I probably caught the first stages of what has been a massive growth period for the sport. It's been really interesting to see so many new events, clubs and competitors come into the sport over that period.

    What made you decide to enter the world of triathlon?

    A friend convince me to enter an event, and I was hooked immediately due to the variety of the training, and also the variance in racing distances. This meant I could have short, medium and long term ambitions without ever feeling like I wasn't learning or improving. Its the perfect mix of being easy to enter but difficult to master.

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

    That's a difficult question to answer. I had very fond memories of Ironman UK in 2017 at Bolton as that felt like the final destination on what had been a 3 year journey moving from Olympic to 70.3 to Iron. In some respects, I enjoyed the process of getting there more than actually achieving it. That said, I also love the Outlaw half at Nottingham for the sheer speed of the course. But perhaps my favourite is a small race series on the South Coast called the Salty Sea Dog, based at Boscombe: it has a sea swim from the beach and the run course is along the promenade. It starts at 6am, and by the time you finish the cafes are open and it's great to sit there on the beach side, watching the world start its day when you've already completed a triathlon.

    And your proudest achievement?

    Completing an Ironman; I think it's the benchmark and pinnacle of triathlon. I love the mental torture of it and in many respects it's a realistic target for most casual triathletes that can commit to one season of proper training whereas age group racing for a GB place will only ever be open to limited number of natural athletes that can maximise their potential through quality training.

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

    Two races spring to mind instantly: this year's Outlaw was a nightmare with the bike section being cancelled whilst we were all in the water doing the swim due to heavy rain. The feeling of getting out of the water to be told that was crushing. In the end, we skipped straight to the marathon. I ended up enjoying the run but the first few miles I was mentally done and could easily have quit as I felt so deflated.

    I also had a nightmare at Hever Castle a couple of years ago as I broke my toe quite badly coming out of the water, however on the bike it had no impact whatsoever and with cold feet I couldn't feel any pain, so I had a really good bike leg, but the minute I put my trainers on for the run it was excruciating. I barely ran out of transition before I had to stop and withdraw because the pain was so bad. I wouldn't want to repeat that experience.

    How do you overcome setbacks?

    I think most athletes in the age group sections, especially when they start approaching their late 30s, have to accept that injuries will cause issues as the healing time is significantly slower compared to when you're in your 20s.

    I lost a season to tendinitis a few years ago which cost me a couple of hundred pounds in lost entry fees. I think you have to remind yourself that injuries are part and parcel of age group racing and that your fitness will ebb and flow, I often remind myself that I'm not doing this for a living, I'm doing it for fun and it can't take over my life at the expense of my family.

    What advice do you wish you'd been given before you started competing?

    Join a club. The world of triathlon can seem like a daunting place populated with super fit athletes communicating in an alien language of "bonking, brick session, wattage" etc but in reality triathlon is such an incredibly friendly race scene and people are keen to share info and help people into the sport.

    What are your goals for 2019 and 2020?

    With the Outlaw having to pull the bike section on my "A race" for 2019, I'm now looking forward to 2020. I'm starting the season with Ironman Lanzarote and we'll see from there but I'd likely to aim for Outlaw and Tenby for a hat-trick of Iron distance races or I may go for something harder like the Brutal at the back end of the season. 2020 will be a big season for me.

    Who do you take your inspiration from?

    I find real people the inspiration, I've never found any of the pro athletes to be inspiring, they're blessed with amazing genes which they're absolutely exploiting with great training and discipline, but what about that is inspiring to someone like me? A middle-of-group plodder. Their experience and journey doesn't reflect mine but people that I might meet at my clubs or doing races are such an inspiration. I met a lady who was looking to qualify for Kona in her age group of over 65s on the run section of an Ironman event, how can you not be inspired by that? Will I be able to do it when I'm that age? Who knows, but she's my inspiration and I want to try.

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

    For me, it's that Sundried is product- and athlete-led rather than being a marketing-led company trying to create a brand at the expense of the garment quality. My favourite kit are the items I use the most which are t-shirts as they're an every session garment, they wick quickly and the seams are strong. I'm looking to trying the Eco products too as I've massively had my eyes opened to the damage man made-fibres can have on the environment.

    Posted by Alexandra Parren
  • Emma O'Toole Athlete Ambassador

    Sundried activewear cycling triathlon

    Emma is a triathlete who now represents Team GB. She talks to Sundried about life as a triathlete.

    Have you always been into sport?

    Yes, I have always been into sports. At school, I think I was part of every sports team going! I used to really enjoy playing football and supporting my local team with my dad. I moved towards endurance sports at 16, joined my local gym to add in some strength work and began teaching indoor cycling classes 2 years later.

    What made you decide to enter the world of triathlon?

    Well, “why be bad at one sport, when you can be bad at three?” Triathlon gives so much variety with training and it is great to be able to develop in three different sports. There is always room for improvement and I love being constantly challenged. There is no better feeling than working hard at each of the disciplines (especially your weakest!) and noticing improvements. 

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

    My favourite race to date has been the New Forest Triathlon. I did this race three weeks after a half Ironman and was unsure how my body would respond. It was mentally tough as I battled against a lot of self-doubt during the lake swim. I felt strong on the bike and when I got to the run, I was shocked to be told by a marshal that I was 2nd woman. The leader was nowhere in sight and another marshal told me that she was about 90 seconds ahead. Again, the self-doubt crept back in that 90 seconds is a lot in running; I was questioning whether I should try to speed up and risk ‘blowing up’ or hold steady with my pace.

    I held steady and 4km from the end, I could see her coming into sight. With roughly 1.6km to go I caught her. I then had another decision to make: pace her or go for it? I went with the latter as I was feeling strong, I ended up finishing 1st with some 40 second lead. It has been my favourite because it felt like a ‘real race’ with key decision making based on the information I was receiving.

    And your proudest achievement?

    My proudest achievement was coming 3rd senior woman and 2nd in age category in a 70.3 race. It was my first middle distance triathlon and I was so nervous beforehand. I had trained hard, but you always have to expect the unexpected as there are so many variables in triathlon. The scenery was beautiful, the race was well-organised and it was all-round an awesome day!

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

    My toughest race was in a trail half marathon race this season. I had qualified for the European Long Distance Triathlon Championships representing Great Britain’s Good for Age Team in September and was putting in the mileage by using the race as a training run.

    I surprised myself by leading the race amongst the women, however I could not shake the pain in my left groin and hip which had been niggling away since I was knocked off my road bike two weeks beforehand. I dosed myself up with ibuprofen gel and thought I could run through it.

    At about 10km, I could not put any weight through my left leg, I knew it was not good news! I had to go to the nearest marshal point and pull out of the race, my first ever DNF. I tried to think about the EU championships and not jeopardize that by completing the race today. Unfortunately, I ended up in hospital on crutches and have been undergoing physiotherapy since. I am waiting for MRI scan results to see what damage has been done; I’m unable to run at the moment but keeping myself busy with lots of swimming and cycling.

    How do you overcome setbacks?

    I try to remain positive and focus on taking each day as it comes. I also try to create achievable micro-goals; so rather than focus on where I should have been if it were not for the injury or change in circumstances, I can stay positive. Cross-training across the disciplines is great for this; chances are if I’m not able to run, then at least I can swim or bike. 

    What advice do you wish you'd been given before you started competing?

    I wish I had joined a team earlier on. Southampton Triathlon Club have been great at providing a network of support and encouragement. The sessions put on by tri clubs also encourages you to mix up your training in ways you might not have thought of yourself. Other than that, don’t forget to believe in yourself and most importantly, enjoy it!

    What are your goals for 2019 and 2020?

    My goals for the end of the 2019 season are still in limbo because I am awaiting the MRI results. I will continue to race British Cycling Crit races and potentially move over to the track in the winter. For 2020, I am hoping to race an international Middle Distance Triathlon and an international Aquabike for Team GB Good for Age Squad. 

    Who do you take your inspiration from?

    Jessica Ennis and Peter Sagan! I was glued to the TV during the 2012 London Olympics, I think Jessica is a role-model for athletes; she is grounded, modest and hard-working. Peter Sagan is a cyclist for Bora-Hansgrohe and I just love watching him ride, he is always so genuinely happy to do what he does and keeping the crowds entertained!

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

    Sundried noticed a gap in the market and has stayed true to it. I love the fact that it makes top-notch triathlon apparel affordable and accessible to all. My favourite bit of kit is definitely the Sundried Velo Women's Aero Skinsuit, it is a super fast one-piece that is versatile across different triathlon distances- making it a great buy to endure the whole season, from start to finish. The colours also match my bike!

    The new Eco Tech range is also amazing, in a climate conscious world, Sundried’s biodegradable clothing paves the way for future generations to enjoy the world of triathlon!

    Posted by Alexandra Parren