Stephen Ellison - Athlete Ambassador
Have you always been into sport?
I was one of those really annoying kids that people will remember from their school days that was just good at everything. I played just about every sport at primary and secondary school, but my main focus was rugby in the winter and athletics in the summer. This continued into my military career. In my mid-late 20's I moved more into rugby until a car accident in my early 30's and subsequent neck injury meant I had to give the sport up.
How did you first get into triathlon?
It was a drunken bet in the pub! After my rugby career ended I had been doing some 5 and 10k runs with my friend but we needed a "new challenge"... I had been reading about how triathlon was the fastest growing sport in the UK at that point so jokingly said that I could probably get through a short one, but Susie couldn't. I woke up the next morning to find that we had both entered the 2010 Blenheim triathlon! I didn't even own a bike. I bought a triathlon "starter" kit and had to learn how to use clip in pedals and work out how to get a wetsuit on. But I fell in love with the sport and its social, friendly aspects at that first race and haven't looked back since.
What has been your favourite race to date and why?
That's a tough one. I've been very fortunate to race at some huge events, London 2013 on the Olympic course from 2012, my first race for the GB Age group team in Chicago, and I love the Deva triathlon in Chester. Challenge Roth will always hold a very special place in my heart as my first Ironman, so that takes first place (at the moment).....
What is your proudest achievement?
I probably have 2 here. Firstly was earning the right to race for GB as an age grouper. It took 3 years of very, very hard work to earn that race suit. I had no idea just how competitive Age Group racing was until I dipped my toe into the water and it was a huge shock. Secondly was actually completing an Ironman distance, something in my wildest dreams I never thought I was capable of physically, let alone mentally.
Have you ever had any racing disasters?
I am VERY meticulous when it comes to actual racing and I have only DNF'd once in last 11 years due to a mechanical. I do however have a habit of forgetting things pre race. Like turning up in Lisbon before the European championships in 2016 to find I hadn't packed my bike pedals. Or turning up at the bike recce at the World duathlons ( a week later - you think I would have learned) with no helmet.
How do you overcome setbacks?
Swear. Sometimes a lot. And then laugh (especially at the above 2 incidents). I'm a pretty pragmatic and chilled out individual. I only tend to think about setbacks after the event has happened and try to analyse what caused the incident and how to make sure it doesn't happen again.
What advice do you wish you'd been given when you first started out?
Just how much fun it can be, and to definitely join a club! I did my first 2 triathlons just doing a little of each discipline and training myself. Joining a club made a world of difference to my training, and also provided me with some incredible friends and role models.
What are your goals?
I don't have any specific goals just now, after being unable to race due to the pandemic for the last 2 years. I've achieved everything I set out to do in the sport, so right now I'm concentrating on developing my coaching skills. Longer term I have some bucket list races I would like to do and potentially try to qualify for the Ironman 70.3 world championships.
Who inspires you?
Kids and newcomers to the sport. And para-triathletes. I love the boundless enthusiasm kids have in general and how happy they are when they learn something new. Same with newcomers, they advance really quickly and that generates such positivity. I've been very fortunate to have worked with Elite level para triathletes as a dedicated handler and seeing these athletes overcome huge obstacles in order to compete has been a high point in my triathlon life.
Why work with Sundried?
The product is genuinely some of the best on the market, and I've tested a lot over the years! Initially the range was quite limited but I've loved seeing the brand grow over the last couple of years. Some items are so comfy that both myself and my partner wear them on a daily basis, not just for sport. Sizing is really accurate and customer service can't be faulted. Pricing is super competitive, especially for a product that is so ethical and environmentally friendly. The fact that Sundried also provide support to athletes at all levels and the charitable donations made to good causes makes it an easy purchase decision.
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