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Andrew Willis Athlete Ambassador

by Alexandra Parren
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cycling triathlon athlete

Andrew is a triathlete who works hard to achieve results while still remembering to enjoy the process. He talks to Sundried about training and racing.

Have you always been into sport?

I started triathlon in 2017. Before that, I played a high level of cricket and rugby, playing rugby at Durham University and representing various county teams in my youth.

What made you decide to enter the world of triathlon?

I moved to London in February 2017 to begin a career in the energy sector. London’s a great place but you work hard and your time quickly evaporates. I found it was harder to keep up regular team sport, especially considering I was travelling back to Oxford two nights a week for rugby training.

I felt I needed a new challenge. I was always a strong runner and fair cyclist, but a poor swimmer. A close friend and I decided to sign up for an Ironman the following year! It was perhaps a giant leap of faith considering we were both new to the sport, but we trained hard and both managed to complete the event.

The multi-discipline challenge, camaraderie, and ability to race in so many exciting locations are what attracted me to triathlon.

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

'The Islander’ middle distance triathlon. The event takes place on Mersea Island in Essex, consisting of a sea swim, undulating bike course, and a tough run across road, sand and seawall. The half marathon run is a perfect circumference of the island! The event is well organised, incredibly friendly, and has great local support.

And your proudest achievement?

Completing Ironman Ireland in 2019. The race was the toughest I’d done; 24 hours of ferocious rain meant conditions were extremely tough and large numbers of competitors dropped out with hypothermia. I raced hard despite the conditions and beat a few of the pros, just missing out on a Kona slot.

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

Marbella 70.3 in 2019. I suffered a puncture within the first kilometre of the bike leg – I probably over-inflated the tyres! As the adrenaline was pumping, I seriously panicked, taking around 20 minutes to change the inner tube. I couldn’t get the setback off my mind and despite a strong run leg I was very disappointed.

How do you overcome setbacks?

Evaluate the process and understand what went wrong and what could have been improved. I then aim to be more focused and disciplined during the long training hours.

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

Keep your ‘easy’ sessions easy! It’s far too easy to feel you aren’t achieving anything during these sessions but it’s critical not to over-train to both improve and stay injury-free.

What are your goals for 2020?

Qualify for the Ironman 70.3 World Championships in Taupo, New Zealand. Secondly, race enjoyment! Triathletes put in high training volume across three disciplines, so by the time you reach race week, it is important to enjoy the race!

Who do you take your inspiration from?

Tim Don (if you haven’t seen ’The man with the Halo’, I’d seriously recommend it) and Lucy Charles.

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

The Sundried Cadence Men’s Aero Skinsuit is my favourite bit of kit. It’s comfortable, very fast, and looks great.

I work for a clean energy company and so Sundried’s low carbon credentials are extremely important to me. The kit also looks great and always receives positive comments at races.

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