• Calum Johnson Athlete Ambassador

    athlete cycling triathlon

    Calum has been practising sport his whole life but has found his passion in triathlon. He talks to Sundried about training and racing.

    Have you always been into sport? 

    Yes, I’ve always been into sport, starting off doing judo from the age of 6. I competed in judo up until the age of 12 and at that point I began to swim at the local swimming club in Newcastle. I won national medals in judo which is crazy because I was so young and it didn’t really mean that much to me because I was just a kid having some fun on the judo mat throwing people about and enjoying myself! I quit judo quite early on and moved onto swimming; I was a typical kid who got bored and wanted a new challenge. I progressed year on year in swimming and began to get regional medals when I was 14/15.

    I then began to compete in cross country races for the school and I raced in my first English Schools cross country competition when I was 15. I did no running training as I was still fully focused on swimming so I didn’t achieve anything special, coming 211th, but it was the buzz I got from the race that would lead me onto joining Gateshead Harriers running club and start training with the group there.

    How did you first get into triathlon? 

    I was introduced to triathlon when I entered a local aquathlon at age 16 and finished in 1st place. I was approached by the head of North East Triathlon, Barry Jameson, and he persuaded me to give triathlon a go. He was very generous in loaning me a very old school road bike. I crashed several times going round a corner but finished my first race in 3rd place. This was the start of my triathlon journey, but it was fair to say I had a long, long way to go!

    I love triathlon because of the variety in the training. I’ve always had a love for pushing my body to extremes and triathlon was a great excuse to do that. I love everything that comes with triathlon including the travelling, the competitors, and the lifestyle.

    What’s been your best race to date? 

    I find it really hard to narrow down my favourite race to just one so I might have to push the boat out a bit and choose two.

    I love racing at Hever Castle each September. Most of the times I have raced there the weather has been great and the course is just a bit different than other courses which makes it a challenging and interesting race.

    My other favourite would be the ITU World Cup course in Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic. It’s one of the toughest courses there is with hills, corners, cobbles but a great crowd.

    And your proudest achievement? 

    My proudest achievement to date would be in 2017 when I won my first International race at the European Cup in Weert, Netherlands. At the time I also found out that I was graduating with a first class honours degree in Accounting and Finance!

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

    I’ve had many racing disasters for sure… I guess that’s all part of learning to become the best athlete you can be. I remember travelling to Brazil for the World University Championships in 2014 and it happened to be my first ever Olympic distance triathlon. I ended up severely dehydrated because of the hot weather (it was 35 degrees) and I had serious cramps on the run, from my legs to my abdominals. I walked most of the 10km run. I was determined to finish having travelled all that way. The run took me just under an hour… and because I was out in the sun for so long I ended up with the most severe sunburn too. Flying back to the UK the next day was a painful experience to say the least.

    How do you overcome setbacks? 

    Overcoming setbacks is something I’ve become quite good at over the years as I have had many setbacks. One that sticks out the most was in March 2015. Out on a training ride, I was hit by a car whilst crossing a roundabout. I don’t have much memory from the incident apart from the car was travelling at a high speed and I ended up in hospital. I ended up with a serious injury to my backside plus a load of other injuries. I lost an insane amount of blood and recovery took a long time. I wasn’t able to sit down for weeks and was forced to lie on my side.

    Recovering from this taught me an awful lot about myself. Everybody says it but patience is the most key part for overcoming a setback. Trusting what you are doing and/or what you are being advised is so important. Having confidence in your ability and that although a setback may knock you back in terms of fitness levels, it doesn’t make you a worse athlete than you were. Always be reminded that with hard work, patience and resilience, you will still progress on that journey to becoming the best you can possibly be.

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

    As I am now reminded all of the time, a happy athlete is a performing athlete. It’s really important to enjoy the journey and the process. You will perform your best when you are happy in your surroundings. Embracing the opportunities and making the most of the places you visit and the chances you are given.

    What are your goals for 2019 and 2020? 

    My goal for 2019 has been to try and establish myself as much as possible on the ITU racing circuit. My mission is always to better myself and become the best I can be in all walks of life and this year has been a case of trying to find out what works best for me and if I am going to keep progressing, then what is the best plan going forward, both in terms of training and general lifestyle.

    My goal for 2020 from a performance perspective is to continue to progress as an ITU athlete. I also plan to try out some longer distance races over half ironman as I believe that is where my strengths lie. In 2020 I want to implement more challenge into my training, racing, and day-to-day life. Challenge and variety is where I get most of my enjoyment from and I know I will perform to the best of my ability when I am enjoying what I am doing.

    Who do you take inspiration from? 

    I take my inspiration from several people but I’ll name two people who have had a massive influence on my career so far.

    Firstly, my dad. He was a runner himself back in the 1980s and has lots of experience. He was never fortunate to do it full-time and always had to work full-time alongside running internationally. He’s taught me so much (including his never go down without a fight attitude) which has all helped shape me into the athlete I am today.

    Secondly, Non Stanford, who most people will know as the 2013 World Champ and Olympian. I was fortunate enough to spend a lot of time training with Non before we went separate ways in 2018, but her attitude, desire and resilience is inspiring and that’s really helped me to become the best athlete I can be. Not only that but Non is one of the friendliest athletes on the circuit and also a great laugh!

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

    Sundried are a fantastic brand and company. Their attitude towards sustainability in current times is just what the world needs right now and it’s inspiring to see a company with this at its heart. I love the Sundried Plaret Running T-Shirt. It’s a great looking casual top that I love to wear just out and about but it’s also fantastic for doing some of my run sessions in too.

    Posted by Alexandra Parren
  • Claire Pluckrose Athlete Ambassador

    Sundried ambassador triathlete Team GB

    Claire spent 30 years working in law enforcement and upon retirement set herself the goal of completing a triathlon. She talks to Sundried about the highs and lows of racing.

    Have you always been into sport?

    I first became interested in sport at school, playing hockey at County level and England U18s.  My home team was Polo Farm, Canterbury where I played weekly until work commitments took over.

    My triathlon journey has been sporadic, fitting in work and home commitments but in 2018, I was due to retire after serving 30 years with law enforcement. I also was due to turn 50 and had one of those ‘now or never’ moments. As I was just about to move into a new age group, I set myself a 5 year goal to try and qualify for a GB Age Group triathlon place. Training and hard work has paid off and in 2019 I represented GB in both the sprint duathlon and triathlon championships. The fun has only just begun!

    What made you decide to enter the world of triathlon?

    Whilst working in the police I was involved in a car accident, injuring my back which finished my hockey playing days. Determined to get back into fitness, I looked at other sports. After watching the Lanzarote Volcano triathlon, I decided that triathlon was going to be my next goal. I really like how the three different disciplines spread the training load and impact across my body. I also like the fact you have to be very organised, packing the right kit, laying it all out for a smooth transition and ensuring nutrition is adequate to get you through the race. 

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

    This has to be my first GB Age Group race, competing in the World Championships in Spain this year (2019) and winning the bronze medal. Not only was it my first race for GB, but also my first international duathlon. The camaraderie and new friends I made being part of the GB team, the atmosphere throughout the race village and the support and cheering of the crowd on race day will be a memory I will treasure forever.

    And your proudest achievement?

    Winning a bronze medal at the World Championships in Spain. I had the race of my life – both runs went well and my bike was very strong, despite the hill climbs!  Standing on the podium in my GB kit, receiving my bronze medal amongst such great athletes, was the proudest day of my life.

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

    To date, I think I have been very lucky with my races, although have I just jinxed myself here? My toughest race to date was the European Championships in Russia this year (2019), which was my first GB Age Group triathlon; it was tough both mentally and physically.

    The challenging logistics of getting myself and all my kit to the venue in time for race day was tough – my bike only arrived 18 hours before I was due to race. Also the swim, which was a very green, algae-filled open water swim where for the first time, I had to compete with no wetsuit as they were banned. I was very relieved to get out of the water! 

    Once I was out on my bike, I felt ready to push hard, finishing with the second fastest run. Coming in 5th overall and 3rd GB lady has gained me automatic qualification for the ETU championships in Malmo, Sweden next year so there's still plenty of work to do.

    How do you overcome setbacks?

    This is a great question! With positive mindset, self belief and picking myself up and dusting myself off are the things I try to live by. Things happen for a reason, it’s how you deal with these moments in life that make you stronger and better equipped for next time. There are no mistakes in racing/life, just lessons learnt and room to improve for next time; but always make sure there is a next time.

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

    Triathlon and duathlon are addictive but it's important to get the right training/life balance. I wouldn’t be able to train as hard and enjoy what I do without the support of friends and family. Don’t take them, or your health, for granted. Don’t put pressure on yourself all the time – training is the time to make mistakes and push the boundaries, race day is time to enjoy and revel in all the hard work you have put in to get you to the start line.

    What are your goals for 2019 and 2020?

    My goals for 2019 were to give the best of myself in all my GB races. This has paid off and now the work begins to get stronger and faster for next year's races in Spain, Sweden and Holland. Aside from my AG races, I have entered the 2020 Lanzarote Volcano triathlon for the first time, upping my distance from Sprint to Standard.

    Who do you take your inspiration from?

    I will never forget going to watch the Para Olympic Games in London 2012 and having nothing but respect and admiration for all those athletes, competing at such a high level, despite their disabilities. Seeing the pure grit and determination of these athletes makes you put things into perspective and is proof that if you want something bad enough, train hard, work hard and success will come. 

    I also take inspiration from my local Parkrun in Whitstable, Kent. Pacing and encouraging new runners and the great Speedy Pluckers, a local running group which I set up. These fantastic runners that had not run 100 metres before, let alone a 5k. Seeing them push themselves out of their comfort zones and finishing with huge smiles of achievement and satisfaction – that's what inspires me.

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

    First and foremost, the ethos of the company. High quality kit made from 100% recycled materials, which helps to save the environment from plastic pollution is a ‘win win’ for me. It looks and feels great and fits well – no bulkiness or uncomfortable seams in places you don’t want!

    My favourite pieces of kit currently are the Sundried Padded jacket which is light and soft – perfect to put on post-race, to keep warm and the Escape Half Zip top which is great for my early morning runs to keep the dawn chill off. 

    Posted by Alexandra Parren
  • Mel Knight Athlete Ambassador

    Sundried activewear triathlete racing

    Mel first learnt to swim to help encourage her daughter and before she knew it she was taking on an Ironman! She talks to Sundried about life as a triathlete.

    Have you always been into sport?

    I was never the "sporty" type and was a bit overweight as a child. I scored quite badly in PE at school, but my parents made us join a sports club of our choice as children. I was not particularly good at any of them, but I didn't mind taking part.

    What made you decide to enter the world of triathlon?

    I didn't actually "decide"! I didn't like water and was extremely anxious every time my daughter got anywhere near water. She wasn't all that keen about water either. I realised that if I didn't do anything, she would develop a proper fear of it like me. So I joined a local swim squad to learn to swim in September 2016. I couldn't swim a single length then! Many of the swimmers were triathletes and somehow I decided that doing an Ironman the following summer would be a good challenge... and it was! I loved it!

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

    The Nottingham Tribe Relay in 2018 that I raced with 2 of my squad mates was quite special. The atmosphere was really good. My dad was there and it was the first time he watched a triathlon race and he was blown away. We also watched the Elite Mixed Relay race afterwards and Team France made it to the podium and it was just incredible to have witnessed this moment together with my dad - the girls even gave us their podium bouquets afterwards. It was a special experience!

    And your proudest achievement?

    Probably getting Silver AG at Outlaw Half in 2018. It was completely unexpected and quite a big deal for me!

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

    Oh, yes! Memorably at the Woburn Middle Distance Triathlon in September 2018. I had been on a cycling holiday with the family for a few weeks and I was arrogant enough to think I could do this without training. I was taught a very good lesson that day. I wanted to give up less than 100m into the 1.9km swim... I hated every minute of it. The only reason I kept going was because my daughter was set to do the kids race the next day and I didn't want to give her a reason to bail out! It's a beautiful setting so it should be an enjoyable race if treated with respect. Lesson learnt.

    How do you overcome setbacks?

    It depends a lot on the type of setbacks but generally, it's about accepting the facts without judgement, understanding the new reality and finding strategies that take you to your goal. It might even involve changing the goal, short-term, to sustain longer-term plans.

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

    There is so much advice out there which may or may not benefit you as a person or as an athlete that it can feel confusing. It can be reassuring but it sometimes takes the responsibility away from ourselves. So I wish I had been advised to trust myself more.

    What are your goals for 2019 and 2020?

    I've had to review my 2019 goals quite significantly due to shoulder injury and I have not raced much this year. I am racing at the ITU AG Sprint World Championships on 31st August, which is not my distance of choice, but I am looking forward to it. I hope to be fit enough to race the Middle Distance European Championships in 2020, with a top-10 finish goal. I am considering a return to the Ironman distance, but it's too early to make that call.

    Who do you take your inspiration from?

    There are many people within the squad who are incredibly dedicated to the sport and the triathlon community which is fantastic to see at roots level. I am currently volunteering as a Career Coach to support refugees into employment in the UK and these people display outstanding qualities of resilience, hope, and work ethics. These qualities are what makes the difference between success and failure. I feel privileged to be learning from them. If I had to pick a name though, Chrissie Wellington would most likely top the list. Her life story is simply courageous and beautiful. I was fortunate enough to meet her at a recent fundraising event, and she has a special aura about her. You can feel the warmth of her presence. Magical yet very human.

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

    The sustainability story really resonates with me. The kit looks fab too. I am eagerly waiting for my first delivery so will report back when I have tested them. Excited!

    Posted by Alexandra Parren
  • Harrison Rolls-King Athlete Ambassador

    triathlete athlete fitness activewear

    Harrison is a triathlete with his eyes set on going pro. He talks to Sundried about training and racing.

    Have you always been into sport?

    Yes, definitely. When I was young I played tennis and did swimming. I loved them both but at age 8, swimming started to take off and I had to make a decision on what I wanted to do. A change in swim squads led me to meet my now coach of 13 years Glenn Cook, head coach at Team Bodyworks in Eastbourne. By age 10 I was entering the world of triathlon and keeping my swimming galas going during the winter.

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

    I think in terms of overall experience, Challenge Peguera-Mallorca 70.3 has been my favorite race to date. It was my first attempt at middle distance racing and it was also the European finale for Challenge brand races. The race went well but it was the streets lined with people around the whole run course and running through the finish zone grandstand with a blaring DJ and red carpet which made a wall of overwhelming energy hitting me and was something I’ll never forget!

    And your proudest achievement?

    I pride myself in my consistency in both training and racing, which is a key factor to success in endurance sports. I have been really lucky over the years not to have been riddled with injuries. Keeping the majority of my training going through GSCEs, college and university was a big challenge and is definitely up there with some of the things I’m most proud of.

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

    Luckily for me, my racing disasters have be few and far between. My toughest race was this year at Chomondeley Castle 70.3. Having led for the first 3 hours of racing, I was caught in the last 5km of the run and my legs started to cramp all over; running up and down steep hills was not easy nor pretty as I grunted my way through! 

    What are your goals for 2019 and 2020?

    Growing up I have been racing the domestic elite ITU style short course circuit but now my new goal heads towards the middle distance of 70.3 racing where I will be aiming to gain my professional race licence. 

    Who do you take your inspiration from?

    Lucy Gossage is by far one of my favourite athletes to watch racing and hear about. Her love and passion for the sport and life in general is just fantastic. Her ability to overcome set backs and pull out amazing results and study/completing exams alongside racing some of the toughest courses and coming out on top is pure inspiration!

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

    Sundried produce some great kit; I particularly love the running tops and vests! Simple clean designs, cooling, and quality material. I really like Sundried’s involvement with making their products and brand eco friendly with products made from recycled plastic bottles and coffee!

    Posted by Alexandra Parren
  • 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