• Dan Benford Athlete Ambassador

    Sundried ambassador cycling triathlon

    Dan is a keen cyclist who soon got the bug for triathlon after getting back into swimming. He talks to Sundried about challenges and training.

    Have you always been into sport?

    Yes, always! I used to mountain bike as a kid, play football and all the rest!

    What made you decide to enter the world of triathlon?

    I started swimming again for fitness alongside my cycling at the leisure centre I work at and thought I'd consider triathlon. I went for a few runs as well and got the bug for multi-sport.

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

    I'd have to say going back to my road race days on the bike for the tour of Witheridge Moor in 2017. It was an absolute gruelling morning on the bike where the course was so lumpy.

    And your proudest achievement?

    My proudest moment is riding an Everest on my bike on Boscastle Hill (riding to 8848m on one hill continuously in 15 hours!) I did it in memory of my Grandfather who passed away. Read more about Everesting in cycling here.

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

    I've had many an unfortunate crash in criteruim races (not due to my fault or to the point I need stabilisers) so many carbon frames and kit have been destroyed! Not a race but my Everesting was the hardest thing I ever did!

    How do you overcome setbacks?

    Keep head strong, be positive and always see that there will be light at the end of the tunnel. Never give up on what you love to do.

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

    Look into coaching further and don't just leap straight in. I went through a spell of bad over-training where training wasn't being analysed properly.

    What are your goals for 2019?

    Stay fit, well, and healthy. Enjoy my new job I am just about to start at Clive Mitchell cycles here in Cornwall (May 2019) and enjoy the upcoming summer getting plenty of events in!

    Who do you take your inspiration from?

    I take inspiration from my family of course but if I had to say an athlete I'd have to say Chris Froome!

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

    The men's skinsuit for cycling! It looks amazing and I'll be ordering one pretty promptly!

    Posted by Alexandra Parren
  • Mia Hawkins Athlete Ambassador

    cycling triathlon road bike activewear

    Mia is a triathlete who has raced for Team GB at an international level. She talks to Sundried about training and racing.

    Have you always been into sport?

    Yes, I have always enjoyed many sports from a young age, particularly I enjoyed gymnastics when I was growing up.

    What made you decide to enter the world of triathlon?

    I have always enjoyed being outdoors and taking part in sports. At university I joined the triathlon club and got more into the sport from there. Joining a club or training group is a great way to get into the sport.

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

    Racing on the Gold Coast in Australia at the 2018 Triathlon World Championships representing GBR, as the atmosphere and whole experience was incredible.

    Sundried athlete ambassador running triathlon

    And your proudest achievement?

    Qualifying for the 2019 Triathlon World Championships and racing at the 2018 Triathlon World Championships.

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

    It was 5am and I was on my way to my race and I forgot to put the back wheel of my bike in the car and ran it over! I didn’t have a spare wheel but luckily when I got to the race I borrowed a new set of wheels from the race expo. So it turned out not to be a disaster but was almost a disaster.

    How do you overcome setbacks?

    Dealing with setbacks is hard but I believe ‘everything happens for a reason’ and try to focus on the positives in a situation.

    Sundried athlete ambassador triathlon swimming open water

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

    To practise transitions/mounting and dismounting the bike.

    What are your goals for 2019?

    Racing and finishing in the top 15 at the 2019 Triathlon World Championships.

    Who do you take your inspiration from?

    I enjoy following the ITU world series races and am inspired by all the GBR girls racing.

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

    The quality of the Sundried kit is fantastic and the kit is excellent value for money. My favourite piece of kit is the Sundried bib shorts as they are so comfy, which is so important when you are spending so long wearing your kit.

    Posted by Alexandra Parren
  • Anna Larkins Athlete Ambassador

    athlete triathlon running

    Anna is an athlete who developed a love for triathlete once she joined a triathlon club. She talks to Sundried about life as a triathlete.

    Have you always been into sport?

    Yes I've always been sporty, which is strange as my family are not particularly into playing or 'doing' sport. They always have been incredibly supportive though; my parents were forever taking me to swimming club, cross country, football practice and matches, athletics meets etc. I think they probably deserve medals for the support they gave to me growing up! They let me test out my strengths, experience success and failure, and gave me a love of sport in what ever guise I had the opportunity to try.

    What made you decide to enter the world of triathlon?

    I've always been a runner and a swimmer and was doing these at a recreational level for a while after finishing school. I was really into mountain biking for a while and my boyfriend suggested that I join a triathlon club; I figured I could swim and run already and it wouldn't be a big step to try out road cycling and get into triathlon. Joining a club was a great way to meet new people after I moved to a new area. My local club (Leighton Buzzard Tri Club) is fantastic and is great at developing athletes at whatever level they choose.

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

    My favourite race to date was the ETU Age Group Aquathlon I did in Ibiza last October. They took us out into the middle of the harbour in a party boat and we all had to jump off the back of the boat (like walking the plank!) to get onto the start line. It was so warm it was a non-wetsuit swim which suited me and I had a great swim leg. Once out of the water and on the run I focused on picking off people in front of me one by one and moved even further up the pack. I finished 4th in my age category having got out of the swim in 8th. The run was incredible- it followed the coast line as the sun was setting, and passed lots of the bars and restaurants Ibiza is famous for where people were supporting us.

    And your proudest achievement?

    Last year I was fortunate enough to race for Great Britain in the ETU Age Group sprint distance championships in Glasgow. This was an incredible race and I really enjoyed the competitive atmosphere of a major event. It was my first experience representing my country and I was able to share this with some fellow members of my club too! I came 5th in my age category which I was very pleased with. I came away from the event with a qualifying position for next years ETU championships in Russia.

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

    During my qualifying race for Glasgow last year I came off my bike spectacularly as I came into transition. I cut up and bruised my hip, my knees and my feet pretty badly, but I didn't let it stop me! I didn't even stop to look at my injuries and went straight out into the run- I ran a 5km personal best despite all that!

    At the other end of my season I took part in another qualification race and cut the bottom of my foot as I was getting onto my bike after the swim. I finished the race and qualified but had to get my foot glued back together afterwards- you could say I don't do anything by halves!

    How do you overcome setbacks?

    This is something I've been working on as I can be quite hard on myself. My club has access to a fantastic sports psychologist who I meet with when ever I feel like I need some extra support. Generally she encourages me to write down and acknowledge the positives from the situation and list the problems I am facing. She then helps me to come up with solutions to these problems; often I find that I already have the answers, I just need a bit of prompting to get there!

    I've got a lot better over the past year. I now have the tools I need to sort things out and by talking to people who understand where I'm coming from I'm able to figure things out for myself.

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

    Get some advice about your training so you can set it up properly. I drifted along for years without ever really realising my potential; it was only when I started being coached properly that I've discovered what I'm capable of! You don't need to go the extreme of hiring a personal coach, just talk to the coaches at your local club or do some research online! If you don't structure your training properly you may never make progress at the rate you want. At the other end of the scale can do yourself more harm than good by getting injured or ill through over training.

    What are your goals for 2019?

    This year I am racing for GB at the ETU standard distance championships in Weert, Netherlands and have also qualified for the ETU sprint distance championships in Kazan, Russia. I'm also looking to do the British Championships in both standard and sprint distance. This is my first year racing the standard distance at this level so I'll be looking to test out my strengths and enjoy the experiences. With the sprint distance races I'm hoping to build on the success I had last year! I enjoy racing and feel privileged to have the opportunity to represent my country in a sport I love.

    Who do you take your inspiration from?

    Much of my inspiration comes from people I know on a personal level. My club has some really dedicated athletes and coaches who are all inspirational in their own way. My coach (Colin) has been a big source of inspiration for me; he raced for GB himself and so understands the pressures and expectations I put on myself to do well. He is able to reign me back in when I get carried away too!

    My boyfriend (Adam) has encouraged and supported me every step of the way and is the one who originally inspired me to take up triathlons. When I had the opportunity to qualify for the GB Age Group team he was also the one who gave me the push I needed to step out of my comfort zone and give it a go.

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

    I love the Sundried eco ranges that are created using sustainable materials and in an ethical way. I am passionate about the environment and am looking at ways to become more sustainable in my day to day life. Any company that is willing to take steps to be more ethical and kind to the environment is worth taking more than a second look at! It's also a great example of a business ran by real people rather than getting caught up in the corporate nonsense you see in retail these days. They have stayed close to their roots- and are based in Southend where my boyfriend grew up!

    Posted by Alexandra Parren
  • Lucy Mapp Athlete Ambassador

    athlete running activewear sports performance

    Lucy was first inspired into the world of triathlon while on an activity holiday in Greece. She talks to Sundried about racing highs and lows. 

    Have you always been into sport?

    Yes, pretty much. Since I was very young I've always been active in one way or another. From tumble tots at my local gymnastics club once I could walk through to dancing, swimming, trampolining, netball and rugby in my primary school years.

    What made you decide to enter the world of triathlon?

    I went on a summer activity holiday in Greece and after a week of water sports and tennis I signed up for a bike ride to say that I'd tried all the activities on offer. Having never been on a road bike before I was initially apprehensive, felt wobbly and wasn't sure at all about it!  By the top of the first section and meet-up point, with a long incline to finish I was somehow out the front and absolutely loving it! Chatting with some of the others in the group, triathlon was mentioned (something I'd considered in the past but never actually done) and Team GB age group qualification.

    Competing for Team GB in sport was something I had only ever dreamt about, and never considered to be within my grasp. A week of riding later, some 2.4 km sea swims around the off-shore island, and more suggestions from others in the field that I could really do this, the triathlon seed was firmly planted.

    Since then it's been a steep learning curve and journey of a lifetime; one which I'm loving being on and seeing where it can take me. Ups, downs, twists and turns. It's all part of the experience, and one I'm hoping will take me all the way....ETU, ITU and beyond. Race the world and make it as a pro!

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

    Probably either my first triathlon (St. Neots) as I went in with no expectations or preconceptions about it, knowing very little, but just going into it to see what it was like. I absolutely loved it (even though there were quite a few things that went wrong/could have done much better) and it confirmed that I wanted to be a part of the triathlon world and to pursue the dream.

    Or Cambridge Half in March 2018 as I hadn't done much training for it and was very pleased to go sub 1:30, especially given the conditions and build-up due to the 2018 UK snow.

    And your proudest achievement?

    Either my sub 1.30 half marathon or a couple of the run times at the end of triathlons.

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

    In my first triathlon I got my hair caught in my helmet and I couldn't get it unattached. I was in transition for what felt like an absolute age trying to tug my hair free, and seriously considering if I could run the final leg with my helmet still on!

    How do you overcome setbacks?

    I try to see the positives and try to learn from them to make me better in the future. I know it's not always easy, but in every situation there is something positive to be taken away, whether it's just the fact that I made it out of the house for a run (even if it was super slow), or turned up to the training session and/or completed it, regardless of whether it was at the pace or level I wanted.

    In other aspects of life I try to use the same mentality and see what I can learn and take forward from a situation to improve on in the future, however it's not always easy and I am known for being incredibly self-critical and harsh on myself. 

    I'm always striving to do better and am determined to improve day on day, so whatever happens I try to make sure I don't do the same things again, but try to make them a little bit better the next time, even if that's only a tiny fraction better, it's still a step in the right direction.

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

    1. Enjoy it!
    2. Try not to compare yourself to others.
    3. You are yourself, not someone else, so you can only do what you can at that time. You can strive to do better, and improve, but everyone has their own qualities and is unique - use those to your advantage not disadvantage trying to be someone you're not.
    4. Slow and steady progressions are more sustainable and will get you further in the long run than a sudden burst and then burnout.

    What are your goals for 2019?

    Get some races under my belt and some experience. I'm doing the GB age group team qualifiers and it would be awesome if I made selection, if not that would be my target for next year, with a bit of racing experience and more knowledge going into them.

    Once those races are done (June/July) I'm going to reassess the rest of the season and decide where it is that I want to go, not just for the rest of 2019 but for 2020 and beyond, and start to build towards those goals

    Who do you take your inspiration from?

    There's quite a few inspirational athletes out there who I take inspiration from. In the triathlon world there's Chrissie Wellington and Lucy Charles, but before I got into triathlon I was always inspired by Jessica Ennis-Hill and a lot of the athletics stars out there.

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

    The quality and the values behind the kit. Knowing that the products are made with as low a carbon footprint as possible, and that the company really does care about and think about the environment is a breath of fresh air and something I think is really unique and attractive.

    I absolutely love the padded jacket, but also the Solaro women's leggings as they're so soft and comfortable and my bib bike shorts too.

    Posted by Alexandra Parren
  • Will Grace Athlete Ambassador

    swim bike run triathlon triathlete

    Will is a triathlete who has achieved some great results for the Team GB age group team. He talks to Sundried about some of his best races to date.

    Have you always been into sport?

    Yes, I have been into sport since I was young, playing rugby from the age of 7 to 18. When I started university at Southampton, I decided to switch sports to try something new (and the fact everyone was much bigger than me) and dedicated the next three years to rowing.

    What made you decide to enter the world of triathlon?

    I have always enjoyed running and cycling since a young age. When I left university I decided to focus more on these sports and joined Chichester Triathlon club, where I attended the coached swim lessons and was told I was a fast swimmer despite my ‘unique’ swimming style. Since then I have received coaching for my swimming, and as a result it has improved drastically. And so I decided to join all three disciplines together and rather enjoyed it.

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

    Last year I went out to Tartu, Estonia to compete in the European Championships for my age group. Being my first European event, the whole experience of racing abroad with strong competition was exciting. Having the whole family out to support me, with it being my parents' first time watching me race, set the adrenaline rushing.

    And your proudest achievement?

    This would have to be the same race as above, the European age group championships out in Tartu Estonia. After a feisty swim and fast bike I ended up coming second in my age group and 6th overall.

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

    My toughest race to date isn’t actually a triathlon. In the summer of 2017, I competed in the Fan Dance, which copies the gruelling 24km SAS Selection test march staged over Pen y Fan, the highest mountain in the Brecon Beacons, carrying a 35lb Bergen plus food and water. My brother and I did the race to raise money for a local hospital ward close to our hearts, which gave me the motivation to push through the race and actually win the event.

    How do you overcome setbacks?

    I always look forward with a smile, knowing that what I am going through is only temporary, and have the confidence to stick with what I’m doing. This is what I told myself last October when I broke my ankle out training in the week leading up to The Great South Run.

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

    Never to ease up just before you finish, even if you think there is enough distance. Some people can sprint fast in those last 100 metres.

    What are your goals for 2019?

    I have already achieved my first aim of the season very recently. That was to qualify for the ITU worlds out in Edmonton, Canada. I competed in the Anglian Water qualifier, where I won my age category and came 3rd overall.

    My next goal for the year is to improve on last year’s European position. At the beginning of June I am going out to Weert, Holland to compete in the European age group championships. But no matter what, I’m out there to enjoy every second of it.

    Who do you take your inspiration from?

    I have taken inspiration from many sportsmen and women from the past and present. However having taken up running more seriously since starting triathlons, I have become a huge fan of Eliud Kipchoge, watching someone tinkering on the edge of what others believe to be impossible is truly inspiring.

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

    I like how the company is using its sports background to help tackle many of the issues that we are facing today.

    My favourite kit so far is the cycling bib shorts and jersey, which look so good, and are perfect for the summer.

    Posted by Alexandra Parren