Chris Wood Athlete Ambassador
Chris has been racing and competing in triathlon at a high level for many years. He talks to Sundried about his triathlon journey.
Have you always been into sport?
Yes, pretty much. I rode a bike from as soon as I could and played every sport available both in and out of school; rugby, football, tennis, squash, cricket, skiing, cross country, athletics. I always liked being outdoors. Also, being in the Scouts and doing The Duke of Edinburgh Award were fantastic for adventure and working as a team.
What made you decide to enter the world of triathlon?
I first dabbled with triathlon around 2003 whilst living in London; I swam in an oversized windsurfing wetsuit, rode a mountain bike with road tyres, and wore running shoes with too many miles in them. It took until 2008 and a chance meeting with a 17-time Ironman who'd just got back from Race Across America, that I got properly introduced to the sport, and got the bug from there.
I entered my first full Ironman (Switzerland 2009) without knowing entirely what it entailed and have since completed 5 more. I qualified to race my first European Championships in 2011 and have qualified for the Team GB Age Group team 10 times since.
I have raced on Team MaccaX, now MX Endurance, founded by Chris McCormack, since 2013, so have been fortunate enough to meet and learn from a host of professional athletes and coaches and generally a great team. I think the multi-sport element has always appealed both in a fun and challenging way, and balancing the blend of them all
What’s been your favourite race to date and why?
A few race highlights include Challenge Roth in 2014, despite melting in the heat, for the total experience. It's an amazing event, venue, course, crowd and the history.
The Ironman 70.3 World Championships in Zell am See in 2015 as the first outside of the U.S and the Ironman 70.3 World Championships Nice in 2019. World Championships are always special; having the best in the world there on the same course is amazing to see and be a part of.
I'd also say the inaugural Super League Jersey for an out-and-out weekend of a lifetime, both racing and socialising with the professionals. Such fun but tough race formats and great for spectators.
So all for different reasons, experiences and outcomes, but that in many ways is how triathlon racing is.
And your proudest achievement?
Qualifying to race my first European Championship in 2011 and represent Team GB.
My first podium at the Outlaw half in 2014 which started a season of podiums and success at Bala, Challenge Vichy, European Middle Distance Champs, Roth, Gold at the Club Relays and an overall race win.
But completing those savagely hot events where you're on the absolute limit, such as Challenge Roth and Ironman Zell am See, are as equally rewarding.
Have you ever had any racing disasters/your toughest race yet?
I've twice crashed at the same sprint triathlon that I've also won twice. Once was my fault, taking a bend too quickly and ending up face first into a brook resulting in a painful DNF. The second not my fault but resulting in a horrible case of road rash.
Challenge Roth 2014 became a matter of survival from the scorching heat. An enforced 40-minute lie in a hedge to cool down and re-hydrate was the big learning curve in terms of long distance racing in the heat and managing nutrition.
Also, racing the World Duathlon Champs in Nancy with an Achilles injury. It was horrible on the run and the cobbles in particular, but it was a case of getting it done. Those types of situations teach you a lot more about yourself, your mindset and willpower than when things are all going smoothly.
How do you overcome setbacks?
Don't be afraid to take a step back and assess things honestly. It's easy to be disappointed with a result or outcome but it's more important to identify why and how to remedy it. Be prepared to look at other solutions or ask advice.
What advice do you wish you'd been given before you started competing?
Fortunately, I was well advised but essentially that you don't need loads of kit to get started. Seek out a local club where they will offer plenty of advice. Commit the time and effort to train well and hard, don't rely on a lot of new kit and gadgets. Just give it a go, enjoy the short distances to get started, and have fun.
What are your goals for 2019 and 2020?
2019 became a focus on the 70.3 World Champs in Nice. Whilst successful, a broken bike in the week leading up to the event hampered the outcome but I still had a great time. 2020 will hopefully involve a European Middle Distance Champs and Alpe d'Huez LC alongside racing plenty of new and local events. I might also have a stab at the 70.3 Worlds again.
Who do you take your inspiration from?
Triathlon related, Chris McCormack, as his results and longevity speak for themselves, but always brought some character and spice to the proceedings. And since retiring, putting it back into Triathlon. Also a great knowledge on the history of Triathlon and sport generally. Alistair for changing the way ITU was raced, Javier for his consistency and certainly both for their versatility and abilities to cross distances is incredible, but there's some many up and coming athletes and those from different sporting backgrounds that it makes for more unpredictable racing and race dynamics. From sport outside of Triathlon, Valentino Rossi, Jonny Wilkinson, Therese Johaug, all England Rugby. And those many newcomers to the sport, or those trying to progress in each disciplines that we meet via coaching, working hard and learning. Great fun and always inspiring.
What do you like about Sundried and what’s your favourite bit of our kit?
There is a great range of kit to suit both indoor and outdoor activities and across the seasons, which is ideal when sport & training is very much a lifestyle. But likewise that Sundried have a strong emphasis on caring for the environment and do something proactively about it via the composition of their garments.