• Wai Ming Loh Athlete Ambassador

    triathlon coach open water swimming

    Wai Ming Loh started out as a complete beginner who thought triathlon was only for elites. He now has a coaching qualification and has competed in full distance events. He talks to Sundried about his journey.

    Have you always been into sport?

    As a young child, I was very active and played badminton at school at club level until I was about 15, encouraged by my dad who had played since he was young. My mum took us ice skating when I was 8 and so I also figure-skated for a couple of years. Into my teens I became a bit of a football obsessive, and this took over from everything else through most of high school and university... until I discovered triathlon several years later. I had never tried any endurance sport until that point, and always thought I wasn't cut out for it.

    How did you first get into triathlon?

    In 2008, a friend entered a sprint triathlon and said I should try it. I could barely swim 50m front crawl, couldn't cycle more than a few miles, and would plod a 5k. I think like many people who haven't been to or done a triathlon I assumed everyone else would be super fit, super fast, and make me look silly. However, I agreed to come support him and, if I didn't think I'd make a fool of myself, give it a go next time.

    I was surprised by the range of people who entered: from the top-end competitors with the best kit to the first-timers on mountain bikes; all shapes and sizes; all ages; all abilities... what really struck me was that there was no negative judgement, regardless of ability, and the spectators and competitors were all really supportive of each other.

    I entered my first race soon after (on a borrowed bike- see 'racing disasters 1') and really enjoyed it. Since then I have gone on to do all sorts of races from sprint to full Iron distance.

    I did my coaching qualifications so now I coach at my local club, Exeter Triathlon Club, do individual coaching, run a training camp in Cornwall, and also organise a couple of races with a friend.

    What has been your favourite race to date and why?

    The most fun I've had racing must be the National Relay Championships in Nottingham, when the format involved racing up to three times over the weekend as both a normal team relay (when each of you completed the triathlon before passing the baton to the next person) and then as a team time trial. The camaraderie and support from team members and club mates was superb.

    I've also raced at the Outlaw three times, and for organisation, friendliness, and atmosphere it's got the be up there. It can't be easy to make an iron-distance race feel like that.

    I was supposed to do Challenge Roth this year, which I think would have been amazing, but that was of course postponed like most other races in 2020.

    What is your proudest achievement?

    As an athlete, it was great to win my first race as a V40 (even though it was a fairly small, local affair). As a coach it's being able to help people to both improve their performance in training and racing, as well as making training more fun. As a person, it was stopping mid-qualifier to assist someone who'd had a bad bike crash- he'd sustained some serious injuries. We got in touch after and he made a great recovery- going on to represent GB at age-group duathlon. Although I was nothing to do with his recovery and subsequent performance, it was great to follow his progress and see his achievement having seen him at such a low point.

    Have you ever had any racing disasters?

    My first race saw me getting my foot stuck in the toe cage of the bike when trying to dismount and doing a bit of a somersault to the tarmac in T1. Embarrassing, but no harm done! I did an ironman on the back of almost no training (not recommended) and didn't enjoy a single minute of it, even after I finished. These both point to a lack of preparation, which really is the key to doing as well as you can.

    How do you overcome setbacks?

    I look at what went wrong and categorise them into: what I can control or influence and what I can't control or influence. This helps me to rationalise why I may have had a setback and also try to work out what I can do (if anything) to reduce the risk of it happening again, and also helps me not blame myself for things like bad weather. I try to take positives from every experience- which isn't always easy- and learn from my mistakes. A good example is racing disaster 2 above. On reflection, although my physical performance was not what it
    could have been, I discovered that my mental strength was good- finishing the race even though it was about 2.5h slower than I'd originally been aiming for when I entered.

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

    Find a club that you feel comfortable and welcomed in. Due to work and study I've moved around a fair bit and therefore been a member at several clubs (both triathlon and athletics). The difference between feeling really welcome or not can be the difference between enjoying your sport or not. If you're not happy and comfortable you're less likely to stick at something or achieve your potential.

    Also, don't assume all the advice you're given or read is good advice. Rely on trusted sources, whether that's a respected coach, a good publication, or something else. There is a lot of poor and sometimes dangerous information about around training and injury, especially on forums and social media, so it's important to try to filter out the bad stuff.

    What are your goals?

    I really want to do Challenge Roth and set a new PB while also hitting my target time and would like to try and qualify for GB age-group competition. I'd also like to continue to see my coached athletes achieve their goals.

    Who inspires you?

    Mainly people I know personally, as I find it hard to relate to professional athletes or other public. Examples include a friend who has had four young children yet still manages to train and race competitively, somehow balancing her extremely busy life; Steve Crowley, a GB Paralympic hopeful and friend who shows an amazing level of commitment and motivation; numerous other club mates who set themselves goals and challenges to see what they can achieve, irrespective of where they might finish in the overall race positions.

    I'm also inspired by those who take a stand based on their ethical and moral principles, even in the face of challenges and opposition

    Why work with Sundried?

    The biggest reason is the ecological, ethical, and sustainability stance that Sundried has, something that is hugely important to me. I also think that the kit both looks and feels good, especially my Cadence long sleeved cycling jersey.

    Posted by Alexandra Parren
  • Anel Meyer Athlete Ambassador

    triathlete smiling happy podium

    Anel grew up as a swimmer in South Africa and now races triathlon in the UK. She talks to Sundried about training and racing.

    Have you always been into sport?

    Yes, I grew up in South Africa and swam at national level and participated in lots of team sports at school.

    How did you first get into triathlon?

    I started swimming with one of my work colleagues at lunch time and she got me into triathlon, now it has totally taken over my life.

    What has been your favourite race to date and why?

    Windsor Triathlon 2019. I won best female in the Olympic wave.

    What is your proudest achievement?

    Qualifying for the GB age group team to compete in ETU standard distance, winning at Windsor, achieving 2nd Female at Brighton 2019 and Dorney Lake Triathlon 2019 and 2020.

    Have you ever had any racing disasters?

    Yes, swimming to the wrong exit! I also once had freezing hands so I couldn't undo my bike helmet.

    How do you overcome setbacks?

    I focus on my goal, but realise that things don't always go to plan and that setbacks will make me stronger, even though it's not easy at the time.

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

    Training means consistency every day; plan ahead and stick to your plan.

    What are your goals?

    To achieve Top 10 at the European Triathlon Championships 2021.

    Who inspires you?

    My coach Vicky Gill and my Precision race teammates.

    Why work with Sundried?

    I bought cycling shorts from Sundried recently and was very happy with the product. It is a privilege to promote Sundried products.

    Posted by Alexandra Parren
  • Tom Hartwell Athlete Ambassador

    triathlete cyclist bike

    Tom is an academic who is juggling studying for a Masters in Theoretical Physics while also training to qualify for the Ironman World Championships. He talks to Sundried about his journey.

    Have you always been into sport?

    From the age of 12 onwards I have kept myself active multiple times a week just as a break from academics, this started predominantly with running.

    How did you first get into triathlon?

    I first decided to start triathlon training right before my 18th birthday; I could barely swim the width of a pool but watching the Ironman World Championships in Kona inspired me to change. I got on an old mountain bike and got in my local pool alongside the running I was already doing.

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

    My favourite race to date would be Edinburgh Triathlon on January 1st. It was a brilliant start to the year and doing a sprint distance triathlon on the first day of the year is a good way to keep motivation high throughout winter while also giving me an excuse to spend a week in Edinburgh.

    What's been your proudest achievement?

    My proudest sporting achievement was finishing my first half marathon, even though it was one of the slowest half marathons I have ever run, including in training. It was the first time I did an actual race and it showed me the level of competition that I needed to be competing against. My proudest overall achievement would be getting accepted into the University of Leeds to study an MSci in Theoretical Physics.

    Have you ever had any racing disasters?

    In my first ever triathlon, I got lost on the bike course at the first roundabout. I thought the marshall signalled to go straight over, however he signalled to take the third exit. I ended up running into another marshal for a 100-mile bike race who was quite baffled when I asked if I was going the right way for the triathlon!

    How do you overcome setbacks?

    I think when raised with a setback it is important to make a list of things you CAN focus on opposed to what you're unable to do. If an injury arises, focus on stretching or even if you need a break from sport learn a new language or a new trivial skill. Setbacks are always going to occur so try to embrace them and continue to grow each day even if it's not quite how you want to.

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

    Endurance takes time! I used to beat myself up as a 100km ride on flat roads made me so tired and was such a struggle, but three years later and lots of consistent training and just enjoying myself on a bike I am now capable of doing 100km rides with barely any fuel or a cafe stop. Training for triathlon and any endurance activity is simply a test of who can be the most consistent above who can do one hard week then easy week.

    What are your goals?

    My main goals for the next two years are to qualify for the Ironman World Championships in Kona and to qualify for the GB Age Group team to represent my nation at an international race.

    Who inspires you?

    My three biggest inspirations are Lionel Sanders just due to his insane work ethic and how he will continue to push himself no matter the adversity, Jan Frodeno as he is of course the iron distance world record holder and one of the greatest triathletes of all time, and finally Tim Don who overcame a potentially career-ending injury which happened at the worst possible time but managed to stay positive and was back being competitive in triathlon only a year or so later!

    Why work with Sundried?

    I want to work with Sundried due to their commitment of being a company that cares as much about the environment as it does its athletes. It's a really important mindset to have and I think Sundried has potential to lead the way in having a more green and environmentally-safe sporting industry.

    Posted by Alexandra Parren
  • Paige McLeod Athlete Ambassador

    Sundried triathlon ambassador racing

    Paige is a competitive athlete inspired by her triathlete grandparents. She talks to Sundried about racing highs and lows.

    Have you always been into sport? 

    I was always the sporty one at school, often asking the PE teachers if we could do cross country outside in the pouring rain, which didn't make me very popular with my peers!

    How did you first get into triathlon?

    I started triathlon when I was 7 years old, influenced by my grandma and granddad who also compete and organise triathlons in the area. After I completed by first event, I was hooked and have done it ever since!

    What has been your favourite race to date and why?

    My favourite race has probably got to be a three day challenge that was held locally. On the Friday night, there was a 750m open water swim, then an aquathlon on the Saturday morning and a Sprint distance triathlon on the Sunday morning. I loved being able to challenge myself over the three days; there weren't many of us that completed all three days and it was a great feeling being one of the few!

    What is your proudest achievement?

    My proudest achievements would probably be representing Great Britain in duathlon for my age group three years in a row. I have done three World Championships and one European Championship and have won two World Silver medals and one European Gold medal.

    Have you ever had any racing disasters?

    Last year at the World Duathlon Championships in Pontevedra, Spain, the organisers changed the date of the event after we had booked our flights, which meant that we arrived in Spain the day before I raced, which was not ideal! My granddad was also competing in Spain, but a few days later.

    As we were sat on the plane we could see all of the cases and bikes being unloaded and taken away and it was clear that they had only taken one of our two distinctive bike bags off the plane, which I was convinced wasn't my bike. Naturally, I started to have a mini break down on the plane, thinking that my chances of racing were completely over!

    Once we got off the plane and into the airport, the bike bag was waiting for us, and by some stroke of luck it was my bike, my granddad's being left in Madrid because there wasn't room for it! After this initial panic we went to our accommodation and tried to get our bearings and find where registration and team briefings were.

    The day of the event, we still didn't really know where we were going, but luckily I got my bike racked and actually made it to the start line! I have never been so stressed before an event, however the adrenaline must have helped me as I won a silver medal! My granddad's bike was delivered the next day and he was able to race too!

    How do you overcome setbacks?

    I have had a fair few setbacks in triathlon, being quite prone to injuries. As I have developed as an athlete, I have become more relaxed about things like this, whereas before I would see it as the end of the world. I always think that you have to take the good with the bad and things will work themselves out eventually (usually requiring more Strength and Conditioning sessions!)

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

    I wish that someone had told me to be more patient with my training and development, that good times and performances don't just come overnight and that if you do have a bad session or run of sessions, then it isn't the end of the world and to just take a step back, re-evaluate, and start again.

    What are your goals?

    I am hoping to move from Standard distance triathlon to Half Ironman distance triathlon next year and training has already started to reflect this. Eventually, I would like to represent GB as a long distance athlete and hopefully be successful in that distance.

    Who inspires you?

    There are a number of people who inspire me, such as top triathletes like Alistair Brownlee. However, the person who inspires me the most would have to be my grandma. She took up triathlon many years ago, with very little sporting experience, when she married my granddad. She has done the sport ever since and now organises events too! She has gone on to win her age group in a National Championship and in the European Championships last year!

    Why work with Sundried?

    I am currently at University studying Civil Engineering, where we do a lot of research into sustainability and more environmentally friendly methods of construction. This is why the Sundried brand really excites me, as they have recycling and sustainability at the heart of their brand and products.

    Posted by Alexandra Parren
  • Kyle McCarthy Athlete Ambassador

    triathlon triathlete outdoor fitness

    Kyle enjoys adventure and outdoor pursuits and now has his sights set on an Ironman triathlon. He talks to Sundried about training and racing.

    Have you always been into sport?

    I played rugby in my school years and then at university, but I would say that I was never really interested in sport when I was younger. When I left university, I worked as an outdoor instructor. I think this is when I fell in love with 'non-traditional' sports like climbing, kayaking, fell running, mountain biking etc. From there, I got into cycling which led to triathlon.

    How did you first get into triathlon?

    I trained for the Lowe Alpine Mourne Mountain Marathon in 2012 using a bike. I would commute 40 miles a day to work. When I'd completed the marathon, I kept up with the cycling, enjoying getting out for longer cycles at the weekend. Through this I met some triathletes who inspired me to think about Ironman races. I'd wanted to start for a long time, but had kids and started new jobs etc. It's only been over the last year that I've really gotten into it.

    What has been your favourite race to date and why?

    I really enjoyed the Mourne Sprint Triathlon. It's set in the mountains in Northern Ireland with a lake swim and a hilly cycle. I loved it!

    What is your proudest achievement?

    It would either be completing my first mountain marathon or getting to the end of my first triathlon. I'm hoping that this time next year, it'll be completing Ironman Cork!

    Have you ever had any racing disasters?

    Not yet thankfully!

    How do you overcome setbacks?

    With hard work and dedication. Sometimes you need to take a step back to take more steps forward. I think setbacks are important in building character; what doesn't kill you makes you stronger!

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

    Your training isn't a race. Slow it all down and try to enjoy the journey.

    What are your goals?

    Ironman Staffordshire 70.3 2021 and Ironman Cork 2021, then who knows.

    Who inspires you?

    All of the athletes in my local club, especially the big Iron guys like Ian Pollard and Andy Vaughan.

    Why work with Sundried?

    I really like the company ethos and can relate to building something you can be proud of. Plus, I really like the gear!

    Posted by Alexandra Parren