• Ironman 70.3 World Championships 2019

    Ironman 70.3 World Championships 2019 Nice France

    Racing the Ironman 70.3 World Championship is always special. The calibre of athletes is high, the competition fierce, and the atmosphere is electric. I was absolutely delighted to qualify at my first race of 2019, despite having a year off due to injury throughout 2018.

    This year, the world championship was to be in Nice in France, and athletes were to tackle what was being described as one of the toughest bike courses yet. 1,300m of climbing up the famous Col de Vence was going to be extremely tough. Especially when you favour flat courses as I do!

    Pre-Race Training

    Training had gone well leading into the race though and with some specific turbo sessions designed to build climbing strength, a whole lot of track sessions, and a little weight lost to help my power to weight ratio, we were in a good position.

    Race Day

    The weather was perfect – brilliant sunshine, blue skies, and the sea was so warm that the organisers were teetering on the decision of a wetsuit or non-wetsuit swim (wetsuits are banned over 24.5 degrees), but with just 0.5 degree leeway in favour of wetsuits on the morning of the race, the decision was favourable.

    As we lined up on the beach with almost every famous name in triathlon present, I was excited but felt super relaxed. We hadn’t put any pressure on this race, just to see whether I could finally do myself justice at a world championship, in the toughest of tough fields on the global Ironman 70.3 circuit.

    With the format of women racing on the Saturday and men racing on the Sunday, it always makes for a more pleasant race environment, especially during the swim and the bike. Women tend to race less aggressively than men and the atmosphere almost feels ‘calm’ in comparison.

    The Swim

    Crystal clear water made for an additionally pleasant swim – in fact at one point I actually acknowledged that I was enjoying it, which is probably a first! The sea was warm, there were fish swimming below us, and no dramas at all, and with just a little chop, it didn’t seem to take too much out of me as I ran into T1.

    Ironman triathlon world champs swim

    The Bike

    The start of the bike was flat and fast along the coast so I was in my element, but this didn’t last long before the course swerved inland and we were hitting the start of the climbing.

    Weirdly, I was also enjoying the climbing. My power numbers were looking super strong but I felt comfortable and was riding within myself, so pushed on trying to make the most of the stunning scenery. The famous climb seemed to go quite quickly and before I knew it we were starting what would be a FUN descent which would last about 30km – plenty of solid recovery time!

    The final stretch of flat road led us back into transition and although my bike split seemed slow at a touch over 3 hours, the climbing would have accounted for much slower bike splits than usual – even for the pros.

    bike cycling triathlon athlete

    The Run

    I ran out of T2 feeling strong and was delighted to see my parents and my coach on the course – the support at a world championship is extra special, and it definitely made the 21km run go quickly. The run course stretched along the Promenade d’Anglais with the sea glistening alongside the entire way, it really was a beautiful spot for a race.

    I was holding my pacing very comfortably, perhaps even a little too comfortably, and as I ran down the finish chute I felt super proud to have completed yet another Ironman 70.3 World Championship. I was pleased to have run a 1:34 half marathon, especially off the back of such a tough bike course, and although my overall time seemed a lot slower than usual, in 5 hours and 17 minutes, I knew my personal performance was strong and I couldn’t have got much more out of myself.

    Ironman 70.3 World Champs 2019 Race Report

    The Finish

    I ended up finishing 25th in my age group out of 250 – a huge improvement in my overall result compared to previous world championship events. I was so happy with this result, finally I had achieved the performance that was warranted and it was testament to all the hard work I had put in so far in 2019.

    The best bit though, results aside, was that I absolutely loved the race – every single minute. I had no dark moments, I was just in my element and for me, you can’t ask for much more than a perfect race.

    Ironman 70.3 World Champs triathlon triathlete Sundried activewear

    About the author: Amy Kilpin is an elite triathlete and Sundried ambassador.

    Posted by Alexandra Parren
  • Sam Buckler Athlete Ambassador

    runner athlete Sundried activewear

    Sam is an athlete who got into triathlon because he found just running to be too boring. He talks to Sundried about training and motivation.

    Have you always been into sport? 

    Yes I have, from a very young age I’ve always been a very active person which has led me to participate in over 11 sports, a mixture of individual and team sports ranging from Judo to rowing to rugby or table tennis. 

    What made you decide to enter the world of triathlon? 

    I used to be a long distance runner only, and once took part in a 50km ultra-marathon run, which was great fun but also got slightly boring after a while, which led me to think whether I could be able to combine my running with other sports. Adding to that a friend of mine had previously competed in various Ironman races which convinced me to take up triathlon. 

    What’s been your favourite race to date and why? 

    My favourite race so far has been the Bath Half Marathon 2019 for a couple of reasons, one being that I am a student in Bath and was really looking forward to running in front of a home crowd and people I knew very well, and also because I managed to hit a PB of 1:24:29. 

    And your proudest achievement?

    My proudest achievement was running the Bournemouth Marathon when I was aged 17, which I ran after having only just recovered from a 2 month long rugby injury. 

    Have you ever had racing disasters/your toughest race yet? 

    Luckily I haven’t yet had any major issues during a race, I do make sure the day before the race that all my equipment is all ready and set to go and that I am physically ready to race. But these things do happen and I am sure that I will inevitably face some more or less serious issues on the race course that I will have to deal with. 

    How do you overcome setbacks? 

    When I have a bad performance or a training session I’m disappointed with I just turn back and look at the positives, either in that particular race/training session, or throughout the months of training and the amount of improvement that I have gone through over that period. It’s always tough but this sport just like most sports is fought mentally and it’s your mentality which will often define if you reach your ultimate goal or not. 

    What advice do you wish you’d been given before you started competing?

    A piece of advice I would have appreciated while training for my first ever triathlon would probably have been to practise transitions as well as brick sessions ( running straight after cycling, or cycling straight after swimming ). I had only been focusing on the individual disciplines and came the day of the race and I was so far off my target because running after cycling is just a new sport in itself, but it taught me a lot and it was a valuable experience. 

    What are your goals for 2019/2020? 

    My goals for 2019 are to compete the Ironman 70.3 in Vichy, being my first middle distance triathlon I have for goal to complete it in under 5 hours, but we’ll see how it goes. Then I will be running the Cardiff Half marathon in September and hope to aim for a new PB. There is no doubt I will be racing another 70.3 in the early months of 2020 but the dates aren’t yet confirmed. 

    Who do you take your inspiration from? 

    My inspiration comes from a lot of things, a lot of incredible athlete have completed a lot of incredible things which is in itself amazing, but if I were to think of an athlete in particular I would have to say Tim Don, who is a Ironman champion who in the past year had a terrible accident while he was ruling the triathlon world, which set him back hugely, but he made a full recovery in 3 months and is now back up and running and competing on the biggest stage again which is just incredible in terms of mental strength and motivation. 

    What do you like about Sundried and what is your favourite piece of kit? 

    I recently bought the Sundried tri-suit and have tried it a few times and have been incredibly surprised by how breathable it is and how incredibly aerodynamic it is. It also provides a surprising amount of comfort for long rides which I did not know was possible. 

    Posted by Alexandra Parren
  • Nick Busca Athlete Ambassador

    athlete running Sundried ambassador activewear triathlon

    Nick is a triathlete who is aiming to compete in the Ironman 70.3 World Championships. He talks to Sundried about training and racing. 

    Have you always been into sport?

    Yes. I started with alpine skiing when I was 6 years old when I was living in the Italian Alps. I then raced for 15 years before becoming a ski and telemark instructor in Italy and France. When I was a child I also played a lot of tennis, some golf and I was also into rock and ice climbing, mountaineering and bouldering. Strength and conditioning have always been part of the overall training regime I followed and in 2017 I became personal trainer.

    What made you decide to enter the world of triathlon?

    In 2012 I wanted to improve my swimming technique (even 25m was a challenge at that time), but bumped into a triathlon team instead. I set myself the goal to compete in an Ironman 70.3 in two years and achieved that in 2014. Then the "what's next" mantra took over.

    What’s been your favourite race to date and why?

    Ironman 70.3 Greece in April 2019. It was just the perfect race for me. My mind and my body were perfectly tuned and everything fell into the right place.

    And your proudest achievement?

    Having represented Team GB twice at the ITU Triathlon Long Distance World Championships (top 20 as my best result to date) and having qualified twice for the middle distance European championships. That happened only 5 years after I started my swimming lessons.

    Have you ever had any racing disasters/your toughest race yet?

    I had many disasters over the last few years, which all served as a learning curve. But the toughest race was the World Champs last year in Denmark, where ITB syndrome and stomach distress made me walk the last 15km of the run segment of the race (out of 30 km).

    How do you overcome setbacks?

    Take some time off, switch the mind and focus off from sports and try to find new and personal motivations.

    What advice do you wish you'd been given before you started competing?

    Keep it simple and do not overthink.

    What are your goals for 2019 and 2020?

    Qualifying for the Ironman 70.3 World Championships.

    Who do you take your inspiration from?

    My wife, who's not very much into sports (except for alpine skiing).

    What do you like about Sundried and what’s your favourite bit of our kit?

    The commitment towards being environment-friendly and the sustainability of the production chain. Anything that is made from coffee has my blessing and I really like the idea of using recycled plastic bottles for sport apparel and clothes in general.

    Posted by Alexandra Parren
  • The Sub 5-Hour 70.3: How To Improve Your Half Ironman Time

    running triathlon Eton Dorney

    I’m going to let you into a little secret. I started triathlon in 2012 unable to swim a single length of front crawl. This meant that in my very first triathlon, the London Triathlon, I swam breaststroke and was accompanied by the safety kayaks. I’d love to say this was a one-off and after this I sky-rocketed to triathlon success, but I’m afraid it wasn’t, and I didn’t. I entered a few more national races and the story was devastatingly similar – if not worse. I was accompanied by the safety kayak in every race and was the last person out of the water in nearly all of them.

    Why on earth did I not just throw it all in at this point? Well, I guess I still had some demons to put to bed first. Besides, I had entered my first half Ironman. Your first Ironman 70.3 (1.9k swim, 90k bike and 21k run) should probably be a nice, local, accessible one, where your friends and family can come and support you and where familiarity goes some way to help you cope with the prospect of taking on those intimidating distances. Isn’t hindsight a wonderful thing, though?

    cycling triathlon Ironman racing

    In “I’ll enter now and think about it later” style, I signed up for Ironman Lanzarote 70.3, having no clue what the island had in store for me, as I had never even been. Sounds nice though. Don’t people go on holiday there? Oh boy was I about to get a rude awakening. I had never flown abroad with my bike, never taken my bike apart and attempted to put it back together again, never raced the distance before and – to make matters worse – I’d never even hired a car abroad or driven on the wrong side of the road before. So I flew out to Lanzarote and did all of the above. Completely and utterly on my own.

    The race was something else. I vividly recall almost missing the swim start as I was faffing about, and then struggling through with a painfully slow front crawl/breast stroke mix combo. I exited the water (eventually) and there were basically a handful of bikes left in the thousand-strong transition area.

    Things got worse on the bike. Not only were there barely any cyclists around, but I had never before cycled downhill while standing up in the pedals. Yep, the notorious Lanzarote wind (which I was totally oblivious to until I experienced it in real life) hit me hard. I struggled through and after what felt like an age, I was on the run, plodding along, suffering, struggling, and disliking the whole experience immensely.

    I ran through the finish line in 7 hours and 24 minutes, just over half an hour away from the cut-off. I came second from last in my age group; a whole 2 hours and 15 minutes behind the winner of my age group.

    Sundried triathlete ambassador Ironman 70.3 Lanzarote

    Why then, did I not give up now?

    Well, there was the full Ironman, of course! I decided I wanted to just tick the box of doing an Ironman then I would give up triathlon and move onto something else that perhaps I wasn’t shamefully bad at.

    The only thing was, once I did an Ironman the following year, I decided to carry on…

    Fast forward seven years and I am now a sponsored triathlete having qualified for the Ironman 70.3 World Championships a total of five times. I have completed over 30 half Ironman triathlons in total, and this year I have been on the podium with second place in my age group at two different international 70.3 races, coming in the top 10 females overall, including pros. I am a consistently sub-5 hour half Ironman finisher with a PB of 4:47 – a long way away from that epic 2012 finish time…

    Sundried activewear triathlon trisuit Ironman triathlon

    So this isn’t one of those “I tried my first triathlon and just casually won it” stories. Oh no. There’s no natural talent here – it was just hard work, grit, and dogged determination that has enabled me to get where I am in the sport.

    This is how I managed it:

    • I got a coach. This was key as making sure you’re doing the right training and getting sufficient recovery in is basically the best investment you can ever make if you want to improve.
    • I never, ever gave up. Probably the most important thing of all – even when I was embarrassed at how slow and rubbish I was, I was determined to better myself. I certainly wasn’t competing against anyone else, it was 100% an exercise of self-improvement.
    • I found a community. I joined a local tri club which gave me more confidence in myself, gave me people to train with, to ask questions, and gave me people to aspire to and draw inspiration from.
    • I raced lots. The only way to get better at racing is to race lots – sure, you can put all the hours you like into training but if you get it wrong on race day, it’s over. I learned by making probably every mistake there is to make over the course of a few years.
    • I adopted a professional approach. Sure, I wasn’t professional – probably as far from professional as you could get at the time, but I looked after myself, and I did everything properly. This meant nutrition, body maintenance, rest and recovery, fuelling, following structured plans to a T.
    • I created mini goals. I never once imagined I’d get where I am now, but along the way I just created mini goals, such as ‘go sub-6 hours’ or ‘go sub-3 hours on the bike’. Eventually, you just keep chipping away at it all and you keep on moving the goalposts as you improve. It makes it less daunting and far more achievable.

    There are no shortcuts or quick and easy routes to performance gains (especially when you start out as badly as I did!), but patience, hard work, and relentless commitment to your goals along the way all pay off. Most importantly, you really have to enjoy the process as triathlon is a bit of a lifestyle shift!

    For anyone who is thinking of giving triathlon a go but is unsure, please let me tell you this: just go after it. Ignore any negativity, ignore any embarrassment, ignore any self-doubt – because believe me, if I can do it, you most definitely can. And in a few years time, you might even surprise yourself with how far you’ve come.

    About the author: Amy Kilpin is an Ironman triathlete and Sundried ambassador.

    Posted by Guest Account
  • Alex Dalton Athlete Ambassador

    Sundried ambassador cycling athlete triathlon

    Alex was inspired into the world of triathlon after a chance meeting with an Ironman athlete and a motivating conversation. He talks to Sundried about conquering his first Ironman and life as a triathlete. 

    Have you always been into sport?

    I have always been involved in sports, playing football from a young age up until last year.

    How did you first get into triathlon?

    In June last year I met somebody at my wife’s work awards evening. I’d never heard about Ironman triathlon before and spent an hour listening to this guy telling me about Ironman and how he had completed a number of them. I was shocked at the distances he was telling me about, thinking it sounds crazy however I knew instantly that I wanted to do one. My wife called me crazy but I bought my first road bike the following month and entered Ironman UK two months later having only ridden my new bike a couple of times. 

    What’s been your best race to date?

    My favourite race and also proudest achievement to date was completing Ironman UK in Bolton on 14th July 2019. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done however also most rewarding. It was a pretty emotional moment coming down the finish chute with all my family and friends cheering me on. Having only bought my first bike just over 6 months ago I was absolutely chuffed to finish in 12 hours 28 seconds! (A very frustrating 28 seconds). 

    How do you overcome setbacks?

    Since completing Ironman UK, I have had a couple of niggles meaning I’ve not been able to train as much as I’d have liked, however I don’t class these as setbacks. I treated this as the perfect opportunity to spend more time with family, and not worrying about eating that vanilla slice or double pepperoni pizza! You have to re-charge your batteries and more importantly your mind every now and then – after all, we all started this game with the intention of having fun!

    What are your goals for 2020?

    My 2020 goals are to chase a GB Age Group slot for World or European Olympic distance triathlon. I have got a coach on board and am now excited to give it my all and see what the outcome is!

    Who do you take inspiration from?

    I can’t say I have any one individual that is my inspiration, I just strongly believe that if you want something enough then you can always achieve it. You have to want to reach your goals for yourself, not for anybody else or any other reason. The early mornings or winter sessions will soon catch you out if you’re not in it for the right reasons. 

    What do you like about Sundried and what’s your favourite bit of our kit?

    My favourite Sundried products so far are the bib shorts and bib leggings, the quality and fit are unbelievable and super comfy too! It also matches my bike which is a bonus!

    I am looking forward to buying the Sundried tri suit to race in over winter! The company appealed to me as they offer awesome products at a respectable and affordable price, as we all know triathlon can be an expensive sport however your kit for me is up there with the best and priced amazingly!

    Posted by Alexandra Parren