Dave went from complete beginner to GB Age Grouper in a few short years after discovering his passion for triathlon. He talks to Sundried about racing and plans for the future.
Have you always been into sport?
I’ve tried my hand at loads of sports over the years. Some have stuck, some haven’t! My first love was football, I played from a junior through to finishing at 30 years old. I’ve always been a keen golfer, having played since the age of 11. I got down to a 4 handicap at my lowest, and played regularly up until 2018, when I decided to temporarily pack away the golf clubs and really focus on triathlon. I’ve played now and then over the past year, and I hope to get back to it again in the future. Football, golf, and now triathlon, are really the 3 sports that I’ve kept up on a regular basis over the years.
What made you decide to enter the world of triathlon?
I took the decision to stop playing football at the age of 30, after getting frustrated with dealing with injury after injury. I’m not very good at sitting still and not doing anything, so I needed a new challenge. My first attempt was an obstacle race, and I entered Spartan Race in 2012, that was great fun! Beyond that I wanted something more regular to get my teeth into. Triathlon was suggested to me as an option.
To that point, I hadn’t done any swimming since learning at school, and I hadn’t done any endurance cycling or running. The only running I’d done had been on a football pitch. I was a complete beginner in everything triathlon needed! Despite all that, it really appealed to me as a challenge. I googled triathlon, searched around for an event, and the rest as they say is history. My first triathlon was in 2013, and I was hooked from that moment on.
What’s been your favourite race to date and why?
My favourite race to date was Southport Triathlon in 2017. Since I was travelling for the event, we incorporated a little family break into it too, which just made the whole weekend great fun. The event itself was also being run as a National Championships, and it was the first time I’d taken part in a race of that size. It was such an amazing experience to compete against athletes of that level. The weather was amazing, the course was good fun, and I came away from it wanting to do it again. I entered the 2018 event as soon as it opened.
And your proudest achievement?
I actually have two moments that spring to mind when I am asked that question, and I can’t choose between them, so I’ll tell you them both!
In 2015 I decided to take on the challenge of completing 7 sprint triathlons in 7 consecutive days to raise money for the amazing Candlelighters, a children’s cancer charity based in Yorkshire. At that time, I’d only been doing triathlon since 2013, so I’m not exactly sure what drove me to taking that on! But I’m so glad I did, as the event raised just under £1500.
My second came in 2018. At an aquathlon event in 2017 I had decided to try and qualify for the Great Britain Age Group team. Much to my surprise, I actually made it! That took me to the European Championships in Ibiza in 2018. Wearing those Great Britain colours and representing my country was such a proud moment, I will never forget that. Since then I also qualified for the World Championships in Pontevedra, but unfortunately due to other commitments had to withdraw. I hope to qualify again in future, and will be trying again this year.
Have you ever had any racing disasters/your toughest race yet?
Touch wood, to date I wouldn’t say I’ve had anything I’d classify as a racing disaster. I’ve had my moments – forgetting to put on my race belt in transition and having to run back with my bike to get it, dropping a bottle mid bike route, dropping the shoes off my bike coming into transition, among others. The usual mishaps I think a lot of triathletes have experienced at some point!
My toughest race to date was at the National Aquathlon Championships in Leeds in 2017. This was intended to be my first attempt at qualifying for the 2018 Age Group Championships. To that point, I had done a lot of racing, and even with that event being very short, I was just completely worn out. I raced terribly from swim through the entire run, and struggled to keep any kind of pace. Mid run I decided to just coast in to the line and write it off as a learning experience.
How do you overcome setbacks?
I try very hard to see setbacks as a learning experience. Much like that National Aquathlon Championships race in 2017, I’ve had my fair share of things not go quite to plan over the years, as I’m sure many athletes have. Taking the experience on board and learning from it is the best way to try and ensure you can improve on it next time round.
What advice do you wish you'd been given before you started competing?
I’m a naturally competitive person and I tend to want things to happen as of yesterday. Having not come from an endurance sports background, I knew nothing about how to manage my training load. I’ve learnt now that slow and steady is sometimes good. Immediate progress doesn’t happen overnight and pushing too much too quickly just ends in burn-out.
What are your goals for 2019?
My goal originally for 2019 was the Multi-sport World Championships in Pontevedra. Unfortunately, I was not able to compete, so I turned my focus to my longer-term goals. Eventually I would like to tick Ironman off my bucket list, and having not gone any longer than Olympic Distance to date, I thought I’d take that process steady. So 2019 is all about Half Ironman distance for me, with my first ever race at that distance in June.
Who do you take your inspiration from?
My first real experience of triathlon was watching the London Olympics events in 2012. From that moment on I’ve been in awe of the Brownlee brothers and what they’ve done for triathlon. I’ve had the pleasure of watching them race both on TV and in person, and the way that they take on each event is an incredibly impressive thing to watch.
What do you like about Sundried and what’s your favourite bit of our kit?
Sundried’s approach towards their kit is really refreshing. It’s a given that we want our kit to be functional, to be comfortable, and to look good. Sundried have achieved that, but in a very ethical and environmentally friendly way. Their ethos towards the manufacture of their products sets them apart from other brands.
For my favourite bit of Sundried kit, I’m a big fan of the hoodies and jackets on offer. Perfect for the day-to-day or for out on a run!