Helly Godfrey - Athlete Ambassador
Have you always been into sport?
I have always been sporty. I was a water baby and I skied and swam to a high county level as a child. I carried on swimming for leisure through my twenties and thirties. I ran the Great North Run in 2001 as I went to medical school in Newcastle and saw what a big event it was and I ran it just after I qualified as a doctor aged 23. I had only run a maximum of 3 miles before that so I probably wouldn’t recommend that as a training plan! I picked running up again aged 35 with parkrun and I did a couple of mini triathlons for fun.
If you're interested in starting your own fitness journey, Sundried's Activewear is suitable for people of all abilities.
How did you get into aquathlon?
I have done aquathlon for nearly 2 years and it all came as a bit of a surprise. After completely rupturing my ACL skiing in 2017 I didn’t even know if I would be able to run again. I was a very good patient and listened to my surgeon and physio and gradually built my strength up over the next year and a half.
In early 2019, aged 41, I managed to run sub 25 minutes at parkrun and I suddenly realised I had qualification potential for Team GB Aquathlon, part of British Triathlon multisport as my swim was still strong. I chipped away at my training and by November 2019 I qualified for the team to race in the European and World championships in 2020. They were postponed to 2021 with the pandemic so I am hoping to compete this year. I have since managed to get my 5k run time down to 22.49.
I currently have a running coach and I swim train with the Masters.
What is your favourite event to date and why?
People who know me know that I like to plan in advance and with detail however occasionally something catches you unplanned and out of the blue. Just before Christmas, my planned 10k Sunday run suddenly turned into something else when I tagged along with some friends. On the way there it became apparent that we were about to do a local challenge called the 17 hills at Castle Eden Dene. To this day I still think it was a blessing that I had no idea what they were talking about. 3.5 hours, 20km and 900m elevation gain later I was thanking my lucky stars that my friends had packed Kendal mint cake.
It was one of the most magical happy runs I've ever done with some of the kindest running friends I have who are all stronger than me and took care of me. Beautiful surroundings and beautiful people will make me remember this forever.
What is your proudest achievement?
My proudest achievement is not sports related but it was a goal of more from the age of two when I decided to be a doctor. I can still remember how I felt seeing my name on the results board after my finals. It was and continues to be a long slog but it is a big part of who I am. Seeing the Q1 next to my name for the GB age group qualification was also a very surreal moment!
Have you ever had any racing disasters?
I’ve had many but the one that stands out the most is the second parkrun I ever did. Anything that could go wrong, went wrong for me. My laces came undone and I tripped (I now ensure they don’t come undone). My trousers were falling down (I wear the right kit now of course). I wore far too many layers. My headphones got caught as I tried to remove the layers. It was a bit like a comedy sketch! But I learned from it all.
What advice would you give to people starting out?
The advice I'd like to give is treat everything as a learning curve. Even if things go wrong, don't worry, pick yourself back up, salvage what you can and learn from it. Everyone makes mistakes from beginner through to elite it's part of the journey!
The other advice is expect the unexpected. I had no idea at the age of 41 after just having fun at parkrun with my friends and family that something like this would be possible. Many people who I meet and know about my GB qualification would be surprised to know where I was only a couple of years ago.
How do you overcome setbacks?
I love planning and a good friend of mine who is a sports scientist and long distance triathlon veteran who I fondly refer to as the mosquito in my ear gives me excellent advice. He told me to think everything through from beginning to end and think about contingency plans. What if the plane is cancelled? What if your bag is lost? These are things you can think about and are useful to do on your rest days.
To overcome setbacks I allow myself a little time to reflect and be sad about them but I then draw a line under it and learn from them. I have a tiny team who consist of my husband, a couple of close friends and my immediate family. They support me through everything, believe in me, pick me up when I fall and fix me. I strongly believe in having the right team around you.
What are your goals?
My goals are to represent the GB age group team for as long as I can and just to be the best version of me that I can be and fulfil my potential. That's all anyone can ever ask. My running coach loves my attitude as I give 100%, I'm enthusiastic and I always listen. I'm pretty feisty, but he can deal with that!
Who inspires you?
My inspiration has to be my 2 daughters Chloe and Amelie. We are so proud of them and fulfil the words I strive by - Be humble, be kind, work hard.
Why represent Sundried?
I'm proud to represent Sundried. I'm only an ambassador for things I truly believe in and the affordable high quality clothing for my sport coupled with the Eco and ethical background of using recycled materials fits my lifestyle and my beliefs and I look forward to sharing it with as many friends and family as I can.
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