Alex Papadopoulos Athlete Ambassador
Alex is a triathlete who competes in full Ironman events. He talks to Sundried about training and racing.
Have you always been into sport?
In one way or another I’ve always been a fan of sport. Some of my earliest memories are of watching football or Formula 1 on the television then I started playing football when I was about 8 or 9. Later into my teen years, I discovered rugby and started playing that. I was never that good at either of them but used to love being outside and having a reason to stay fit.
What made you decide to enter the world of triathlon?
At university, I fell out of love with rugby and lost interest in team sports a little bit. I wanted to try something completely new and the variety of triathlon appealed to me (why stick to one sport?) I’d heard about the London Triathlon and seen pictures of it and thought about having a go. Then on my placement year I moved to a new area and found a local triathlon club so joined as a way of making friends with the aim of having a go at London Triathlon. That was six years ago, I fell in love and haven’t looked back since!
What’s been your favourite race to date and why?
I’m going to cheat and actually pick two because I can’t choose between them. The first is Ironman South Africa. It was my first attempt at a full Ironman event so it will always be special because of that. But it was the whole atmosphere in the town that was just incredible! From 7am there were gazebos lining the course with spectators drinking beer and having barbecues, the whole town had come out to support. A truly incredible experience that I would recommend to anyone! My second choice is the European championships in Tartu, Estonia in 2018. The opportunity to pull on a GB kit and represent my country in a European championships was a real honour. It definitely gave me an extra 10% to dig deep and push myself.
And your proudest achievement?
I’ve mentioned a few of my proudest achievements already but I think going under 10 hours for the Ironman distance at only my second attempt is right up there as well. It was Ironman Barcelona and it was one of those races where things just came together for me.
Have you ever had any racing disasters/your toughest race yet?
My first attempt at the 70.3 distance definitely ticks the boxes of racing disaster and toughest race (also my one and only DNF). I like to pick sunny destinations for races, especially when I’m doing a distance for the first time so I picked Ironman 70.3 Mallorca as my first crack at the 70.3 distance. It rained all through the night before, transition was flooded at 6am and a mechanical just before the half way point on the bike put an early end to my race (although in those conditions, it was secretly a bit of a relief).
How do you overcome setbacks?
I’m a firm believer in controlling the controllables and this is very much my mantra when setbacks strike. So if I get an injury, I focus on what I can do to recover be that rehab exercises or rest or scaling back training.
What advice do you wish you'd been given before you started competing?
Find ways of keeping your family involved. I used to find it really hard to find a balance between family life and training but then my wife started riding her bike alongside me when I went on long runs. It was so nice to be able to share those experiences with her.
What are your goals?
For 2020, I had been on track to go under 9hr30 for the Ironman distance but that’s been delayed a year. Longer term, I want to race at Kona.
Who do you take your inspiration from?
Anyone who is willing to try something out of their comfort zone.
What do you like about Sundried and what’s your favourite bit of our kit?
What sets Sundried apart is the commitments to being eco-friendly and supporting the charitable sector. That’s completely aligned with my personal commitment to using sport to give back to both our planet and good causes. Personally, I’m a lover of socks and I love the feel and patterns of the Sundried cycling socks. Plus they always brighten up my rides.