Ian Smith Athlete Ambassador
Ian is a proud triathlete who achieved his dream of completing an Ironman and now has his sights set on the GB Age Group team. He talks to Sundried about training and racing.
Have you always been into sport?
I have always enjoyed sport, starting out as a club swimmer from the age of five. I played rugby, football and cricket at school, but swimming was my main love. In swimming I competed at club and county level, before moving into competitive lifesaving and lifeguarding, competing right up to national level and representing England in the European and World Lifesaving championship in 1990. I had really gone as far as I could in swimming and lifesaving when a friend mentioned having a go at triathlon, so around 8 years ago, I joined a local club and started out. My only regret was not taking it up a lot sooner.
How did you first get into triathlon?
In 2017 I did my first Ironman in Barcelona. When I started triathlon, I looked at the triathletes in the club who did Ironman with absolute awe. Completing three disciplines over 140.6 miles, with a marathon being the final leg, seemed an impossible task and best left to others.
What's been your proudest achievement?
With great coaching and the encouragement and belief of team mates, I began to believe. When I hit the red carpet and heard the announcer say "Ian, you are an Ironman" I must have got a bit of grit in my eye! That will take a lot of topping as a proudest sporting moment. I went back last year to Barcelona again, but this time with two great friends for their first Ironman, and training with them, sharing their journey and their emotions as they achieved their dreams was the best feeling
Have you ever had any racing disasters?
With the highs, come the lows. I was racing the Emergency Services Triathlon Championships in Nottingham when I hit a pothole which punctured the tyre but also wrecked the rim of the rear wheel on the second lap. I didn't come off, but the walk of shame back to T2 and seeing friends finish and rightly celebrate their triumphs was a bitter pill to swallow.
In the days after I reflected and realised that no-one succeeds all the time, success and failure are two sides of the same coin, and once in a while, things won't go your way. Learn from those times, and put them behind you, but don't dwell on them, instead remember the feelings of success and the lift they give you.
What advice do you wish you'd been given when you first started out?
When I first started out I was really lucky to be surrounded by people willing to advise and share experiences. Even though they were top age groupers, multiple IM finishers and National champions, they were all humble and encouraging. Seeing people take up a sport they loved and were passionate about, was rewarding to them and bringing more people into the sport secures its future. That ethos has rubbed off on me, and I want beginners to feel as welcomed and encouraged as I was.
How do you overcome setbacks?
My run is my Achilles heel, but with perseverance and great running coaches my goal is to be able to finish races strongly, not throw the hard earned gains from a great swim and strong bike away, but I am hoping to apply this not only to sprint events, but right up to Ironman, as they say, anything is possible after all!
What are your goals?
I am racing next year as an age grouper in the European Aquathlon Championships, I would like to improve on my 14th place in Slovakia in 2017.
Who inspires you?
As much as the incredible Olympic Athletes like the Brownlee brothers, or long-distance winners like Tim Don or Chrissie Wellington inspire me, it's the first timers that I most admire and am inspired by. That competitor who comes out of the water last after a nervous first open water start, but still smiling, setting out on a mountain bike, and finishing well behind the winners. They have overcome countless obstacles and self-doubt, but for them that was their ultra, their Ironman, their moment of glory. I want that to be their first event, not their only one.
Why work with Sundried?
I am proud to work with Sundried because as well as the kit being brilliantly designed and fit for purpose, the production is ethical and environmentally friendly. Today companies need to be transparent about production and materials, and Sundried is proudly able to demonstrate both.