Steve Vaughan Athlete Ambassador
Steve is a triathlete who has taken on some of the toughest races in the world. He talks to Sundried about his triathlon journey.
Have you always been into sport?
I would say I have been sporty most of my life. I mainly played team sports and was a keen hockey player until my mid 30s. I was also a keen swimmer at school, did a bit of running and my bike was a means of transport.
What made you decide to enter the world of triathlon?
I fell into triathlon by accident! Some friends were entering the London Triathlon in 2003 and they kind of goaded me into having a go. I was a bit more cuddly than I am now and I hadn’t done enough training, but I finished and absolutely loved it. I’ve competed in races every year since. However, my commitment to training and racing has varied significantly over the years, as have the race distances.
What’s been your favourite race to date and why?
Ooh, now this is a tough question. I’ve taken part in a few really outstanding races. If I can take a liberty and give sort of two answers. Firstly, my favourite racing moment was on the bike leg at Challenge Roth. There is an ascent up a hill called the Solarberg. The crowds gather cheering, clapping and encouraging the riders, like on a Tour de France mountain stage, and you ride through this narrow channel. It’s really difficult to describe the emotions this evokes, but the hairs on my neck are standing on end thinking about it now.
So to my favourite race, in June 2019, I completed the Celtman Extreme Triathlon in Scotland. It’s an Iron distance(ish) race involving a swim in a sea loch (with jellyfish), a 124-mile bike (with wind and hills) and a marathon that includes 1,000m+ of climbing over 2 Munros. All self-supported, meaning your family and friends get to sort you out in the transitions, feed and water you on the bike and someone has to run with you. This was my ‘A’ race, so had spent six months concentrating my training towards it. I arrived in Scotland ready to compete in a race, but this is so much more than just a race. It is a family. Whilst I exceeded my expectations, earning the famed ‘blue t-shirt’, finishing 33rd overall and winning my age group. The result wasn’t important, the brutal beauty of the race and camaraderie of athletes/supporters made it a truly unique experience.
And your proudest achievement?
This would have to be representing Great Britain as an Age Grouper in the World and European championships a few years ago.
Have you ever had any racing disasters/your toughest race yet?
I’ve had a few racing disasters - needing to use every toilet on the marathon, one of my tri-bars coming loose with about 60 miles to go and on another occasion I went flying over my handlebars in a race as a result of me not adjusting to the weather conditions (I had to abandon the race!)
Whilst Celtman was the hardest physically, my toughest race was Alpe D’huez. I had been injured and wasn’t as prepared as I should have been. The race itself is truly spectacular but the course let me know that I was nowhere near fit enough. It became a psychological battle to get me to the end, I made the cycle cut-off with a few minutes to spare and ended up finishing nearly last - they were packing up by the time I got to collect my t-shirt! But I learnt more about myself and resilience in that race than any other I have ever taken part in.
How do you overcome setbacks?
After moaning a lot (that’s part of my process - get the issue out there!), it is important to reassess objectives and re-calibrate my expectations. This is followed by developing a realistic approach to achieve the new goal and then digging into my ‘stubbornness trait’ to enable application of the necessary focus. If that fails, I treat myself to new toys - a gadget always helps.
What advice do you wish you'd been given before you started competing?
That technology developments would eventually turn me into a boring geek.
What are your goals for 2019 and 2020?
I am seeing 2019 as a year to build my fitness to new levels; I have engaged with a coach and am taking part in just a few target races to test myself at different distances and types of race. As I have mentioned, I completed the Celtman extreme long distance race in June, where I exceeded my objectives and I will be rounding out the year with Challenge Peguera-Mallorca (middle distance), where I’m hoping to be close to my middle distance PB which I set 10 years ago. Next year I have secured a place for Challenge Roth, I want to race there at my best. Hopefully these races will provide a base for me to build to qualifying for the GB squad again.
Who do you take your inspiration from?
Not really from any one person. I am inspired by great sporting performances, Geraint Thomas’ journey to the yellow jersey last year was amazing, but also from other athletes making their own efforts to be fit/healthy and complete their own goals, whether that’s winning or just taking part.
What do you like about Sundried and what’s your favourite bit of our kit?
I have lived a fairly hectic lifestyle for several years, travelling the country and living from a suitcase. I am about to embark on a change in lifestyle and am returning to university to study Sport & Exercise Psychology. This is part of a personal commitment to make my own lifestyle more sustainable and use my passion for sport for the benefit of wider society. I was attracted to Sundried because of its ethical approach to production and healthy lifestyles, both for consumers and its staff.
My favourite piece of kit is the trisuit and I’m also a fan of the men's Eco Tech biodegradable training top.