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James Tugwell Athlete Ambassador

by Alexandra Parren

running triathlon finish line

James is a triathlete who enjoys long distance races. He talks to Sundried about racing highs and lows.

Have you always been into sport?

Yes and I’ve always been very active – I’m particularly inspired by my grandfather who was once 5th in the world in bodybuilding and trained me in his gym. It was always team sports growing up though and I played a range of sports going up to county level (cricket being my favourite). Triathlon then took centre stage when I started working. I think I could watch pretty much any sport though.

How did you first get into triathlon?

I signed up for my first triathlon as part of a charity event which some colleagues were doing. I really enjoyed the training and the event was great fun, even if things didn’t go perfectly! I signed up for an Ironman straight after that but don’t think I really knew what I was getting myself into!

What has been your favourite race to date and why?

The old Ironman 70.3 in Exmoor – it was my first 70.3 and it was brutal! Got quite wet but the scenery and course were amazing.

What is your proudest achievement?

Completing my first Ironman sub 10 hours (9:43). After my first triathlon I hired a coach but lots of coaches told me I had no chance as I was also working 80-100+ hour weeks. It added a little fuel to the fire and just shows what you can do if you believe and put in the effort.

Have you ever had any racing disasters?

A few stand out but you always learn more from them than the good races:

I tried a running dismount in my first triathlon despite never having practised it – I ended up stacking it and hit the floor pretty hard (thankfully I could still run!) I completely misjudged a corner in a 70.3 and ended up going into a wall, grazing my neck badly and puncturing. Took a while for me to get back on the bike! I got a puncture in a race and realised I’d forgotten my tire levers – I had to wait 30 minutes for some assistance. I was in the lead when that happened too!

How do you overcome setbacks?

I think the key is to be rational and level-headed. If you get an injury, then figure out what you still can do and whether you still have time to achieve your goal/ make your race (I hurt my Achilles one month out from an Ironman and used the cross-trainer and the bike more to keep the fitness level up). If things don’t go well then review and make the necessary changes. For me it’s a hobby and sometimes I need to take a step back and realise that as it can become a little too all-encompassing!

What advice do you wish you'd been given when you first started out?

Take it easy and don’t go long so early! Whilst I perform better over longer distances, getting a bit more experience in shorter course races would’ve been lots of fun – I’ve thought about doing it now but I’m not as good/quick relatively versus competition!

What are your goals?

The current goal is to qualify for the Ironman world championships in Kona

Who inspires you?

My grandfather – he still works out in his gym and he’s 96!

Why work with Sundried?

Sundried’s values and beliefs align with mine. With thoughts about starting a family, it makes you really think about what you do and how to act daily. Whatever we can be doing, we should be doing and Sundried is certainly leading the way. What I love is that that doesn’t mean the kit suffers – I’m yet to meet someone who has mentioned a bad thing about the products. The range is exhaustive and can help someone getting into exercise or help more seasoned athletes perform to their best. The kit is high quality and built to last. The built to last attribute has the benefit that means you’re not throwing away kit frequently when it becomes unusable and this is hard to find nowadays (it’s also much better for the environment and has the added benefit that it’s easier on the bank balance)!

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