• Lee Ross Athlete Ambassador

    triathlete racing athlete

    Lee has overcome some incredible obstacles in his life and never stopped pushing. He talks to Sundried about his journey.

    Have you always been into sport?

    As a teenager I pursued careers in football and cricket, playing football semi-professionally and cricket in New Zealand for their current National Club Champions. In my early twenties I was a passenger in a serious car accident and broke my back, which led to me being very inactive for the next decade.

    How did you first get into triathlon?

    My weight had increased to over 18 stone due to inactivity so I started walking and thereafter running. I managed to tear my Achilles during a half marathon and my physio suggested swimming and cycling as recovery while I couldn't run. Not wanting to put the weight back on, I joined my local triathlon club as they were running swim and spin sessions weekly.

    What has been your favourite race to date and why?

    European Duathlon Championships in Punta Umbria, March 2020. The race was on my daughter's 4th birthday! We travelled as a family, the race went really well for me, we enjoyed lots of cake after the race and spent a few days in Spain, then returned home the day before we went into lockdown. To get such a perfect race and trip in this year was a blessing.

    What is your proudest achievement?

    Wearing the Team GB age group kit at the Duathlon World Championships in only my 3rd ever duathlon (my 2nd ever duathlon was the qualifying race). I thought my sporting ambitions were over when i was involved in the car accident, so to get to wear that kit at a World Championships was a dream come true.

    Have you ever had any racing disasters?

    Plenty of wrong turns, punctures and nutrition failures... but catching Weil's disease in my first ever open water triathlon was the most serious disaster. It took months to fully recover and be allowed to exercise again, albeit now with an enlarged heart.

    How do you overcome setbacks?

    I've had my share! Face them head-on, it's the only way to truly deal with them and move on, even if it feels hard at the time. Having to learn to walk properly again after the car accident was my biggest challenge but I wasn't willing to accept the alternative.

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

    "Technique work and strength work are the foundations of success. Work harder on these than anything else and the speed will follow."

    What are your goals?

    To inspire my daughter. Show her that with hard work, you can exceed expectations and have fun while you do it. "Do what you love and you'll love what you do."

    Who inspires you?

    The whole triathlon community, especially the parents out there who get up at 5am to train before the kids wake up or who train at 10pm after work and the kids are in bed. To train as much as we do without neglecting the more important aspects of life is a tough balance to get right.

    Why work with Sundried?

    Sundried kit is the most comfortable kit I own. To know that when I train, I don't have to worry about discomfort and after training to be able to relax in my favourite sportswear helps enormously.

    Posted by Alexandra Parren
  • Ricky Burcher Athlete Ambassador

    athlete triathlon racing

    Ricky is a long distance athlete who has his sights set on a sub 12-hour Ironman. He talks to Sundried about training and racing.

    Have you always been into sport?

    I have always been into sport, I mainly played football when I was younger before finding triathlon.

    How did you first get into triathlon?

    I initially bought a bike to commute and avoid the toll charge en route. That then led to triathlon.

    What has been your favourite race to date and why?

    Ocean Lava Olympic Distance Tri in Lanzarote, beautiful setting for it and my first mass start sea swim.

    What is your proudest achievement?

    Completing an Olympic distance triathlon in 2 hours 30 minutes - bang on plan!

    Have you ever had any racing disasters?

    I have crashed during a duathlon which was nasty. Otherwise minor things like helmet strap coming undone and not lacing my trainers up before the start!

    How do you overcome setbacks?

    Remain focused and talk to experienced people around me.

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

    Buy a pull buoy and protection for your neck when wearing a wetsuit. Fuel, fuel, fuel!

    What are your goals?

    To complete an Ironman in under 12 hours.

    Who inspires you?

    My training partner Andy, a Paralympic gold medallist in triathlon. My dad was a decent marathon runner as well.

    Why work with Sundried?

    I believe in Sundried's ethos as a brand and am proud to be associated with them and share in the journey.

    Posted by Alexandra Parren
  • Richard & Sophie of TRI2 Ambassadors

    outdoor adventure running fitness

    Ambitious athletes Sophie and Richard have dreams of going pro and deliver coaching to triathletes. They talk to Sundried about their journey.

    Have you always been into sport?

    Sophie- I loved sports as a kid and was encouraged by my family from the moment I could walk. I was skiing at 3 years old and doing multi day hikes in New Zealand by the time I was 6. I was an avid swimmer and always played tennis and netball for local and school teams. I loved rounders, rollerblading and always went on active holidays.

    At secondary school, I was on most sports teams - netball, hockey, tennis, cross country, athletics, swimming. I don’t think there was a lunch time or after school session when I wasn’t playing sport. However, I broke my leg at 17 and was told I might never play sports again. It took me a long, long time to rediscover my love of sport - maybe 10 years.

    Richard- I have been completely obsessed with sport since I was a kid and was in every school sports team that I could join. I particularly enjoyed Rugby and Athletics which I spent the majority of my time competing in rather than studying.

    As I became older I started to focus more and more on Rugby, probably training or playing at least 5 times a week. I played for my school team, local town team and county. My local town team was very strong with one particular season going undefeated and another coming 2nd at a national tournament. Some of the players now play at a professional level and some of the others could have reached those heights too if they had pursued it. For me, I also had aspirations to become a professional rugby player but unfortunately a dislocated knee at a crucial stage put me out of the sport.

    How did you first get into triathlon?

    Sophie- I broke my leg at 17 and put on lots of weight at university. My health also suffered and I ended up in and out of hospital for 9 months having 5 operations until I was better. In 2015, I started a successful health and fitness blog called “100 healthy days” where I tracked my journey back to health and fitness. I bought a bike and discovered local sprint triathlons and my love of triathlon grew from there. Meeting Rich inspired me to take triathlon more seriously. With him as my coach, I went from amateur to winning my age group at Xiamen Ironman 70.3 and qualifying for Kona and Taupo 70.3 World Championship in 4 months. We also inspired each other to give up our jobs and take up triathlon full time as part of our Tri2 company. Now Rich is offering online coaching for triathletes that want to qualify for the Ironman 70.3 World Championship and we are both training to go professional.

    Richard- After my Rugby injury, I looked for non-contact sports that I could compete in and I found triathlon. My inspiration came when I watched the Brownlee brothers take gold and bronze at the London 2012 Olympics. With them coming from a rural setting like me (albeit on the opposite side of the country), this gave me the desire to pursue triathlon. I competed in this on and off through my mid-twenties and then really pushed to be a better triathlete when I moved to Singapore in 2017. I joined Metasport tri club and became hooked on Ironman 70.3 racing and have never looked back.

    What has been your favourite race to date and why?

    Sophie- Zell Am See Ironman 70.3 in Austria was very memorable for me as it was my first Ironman and just an awe inspiring race in the most beautiful surroundings. The atmosphere was electric and the scenery so stunning with mountains and waterfalls and lush, green fields everywhere. I smiled the whole way through the bike ride and chatted to competitors as they overtook me. I struggled on the run and nearly hit breaking point when a friendly Austrian racer stopped to check I was OK and then chatted to me the whole rest of the way. I couldn't have finished without him.

    Richard- Qualifying for the Ironman 70.3 World Championship at Ironman 70.3 Vietnam was one of the most memorable races for me. I had all my friends there and a big support crew, so the atmosphere and the race lead up was one the the most enjoyable I have ever had. I remember coming off the bike in 8th and my support crew shouting at me, 1st position is gone but you can run the rest down and that is what I did. In blistering hot conditions, I settled into my rhythm and started running my competitors down. I ended up coming 4th but it was enough and I had booked my Ironman 70.3 World Championship qualification. All the training had paid off!

    What is your proudest achievement?

    Sophie- I had always done quite well in triathlon without training very seriously. I came 2nd female overall in Cornwall Sprint Triathlon series one year, came 3rd female at Bintan Sprint Triathlon, 3rd female at Singapore’s City 60 duathlon. However last summer, thanks to Rich’s coaching and following a proper training programme for 4 months, I managed to win my age group at Xiamen Ironman 70.3 in November and qualified for Kona Ironman World Championship and Taupo Ironman 70.3 World Championship. At rolldown ceremony was put in the incredible position of having to choose between the two. I chose New Zealand in the end as it is a home from home and where my dad grew up. Kona would have to wait.

    Richard- Lots of different podiums at local aquathlons, duathlons and triathlons. My first Ironman 70.3 in Bintan 2017, I came 3rd in my age group. I qualified for the World Championship 2019 at the Asia Championships at Vietnam Ironman 70.3. My favourite race experience to date was obviously then taking part in Nice Ironman 70.3 World Championship last year. It was a dream come true to be racing with the best of the best in the sport.

    Have you ever had any racing disasters?

    Sophie- DaNang 70.3 in Vietnam was a total disaster although miraculously I still finished. It started with the swim nearly being cancelled due to crazy surf, a jellyfish sting, my entire crank falling off my bike, waiting 90 minutes in 40 degrees with no mechanics around, losing a tri bar in order to use a screw to fix my bike, getting sun stroke and ending up in an ambulance on the run, using the ocean as a toilet...but somehow still finishing before the cut off time.

    Richard- In my second Ironman 70.3 in Langkawi, I snapped my seatpost the day before the race. I went to the race mechanics to see if they could fix it and they were adamant that super glue, a stick and cable ties would do the trick, but I would have to wait until the race to try as the glue needed time to dry. So race morning arrived, I got through the swim, found my bike and tentatively mounted my bike... It held together... for 10km! Which meant one thing... I would need to bike the remaining 80km standing up. Disaster! Even though this was far from ideal, I still completed the race with a personal best and very tired legs. Perseverance got me through!

    How do you overcome setbacks?

    Sophie- Stay positive and think about how you are going to learn from and move forward from the setback (once you have had a good cry first of course).

    Richard- Allow yourself to be upset in the moment but then don't dwell on it and control what you can control. Use the setback as a learning experience and move forward to become a better, stronger athlete!

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

    Sophie- You have to love what you do so find a form of exercise that you want to get out of bed in the morning to do. I just wish someone had introduced me to cycling and triathlon at an earlier age. I regret those wasted years before I eventually fell in love with cycling.

    Richard- Remember to enjoy the moment and be patient in your training. Our body may be capable of going 100% for a short amount of time but it is not sustainable. So yes, train hard but also train smart!

    What are your goals?

    We are both very ambitious and love triathlon. We were achieving good results even whilst trying to balance busy full time jobs and lives alongside training. We just questioned how amazing it would be if we could train full time to see what we could achieve. At 30 and 32, it’s not going to be easy, and we may have left it too late but we didn’t want to look back and regret not giving it a good go. We are tracking our progress on social media #oneyeartogopro

    Who inspires you?

    Sophie- Lucy Charles Barclay is an obvious choice. She is just a machine and so determined. I also feel like I relate to her as her boyfriend bribed her with a puppy if she won Kona and I feel like that is exactly the kind of incentive I would want to win a race.

    Richard- Alistair Brownlee. I love the way that he races. He doesn't hold back and pushes his body to the limit. It is great to see what we are capable of as athletes and he sets the bar high!

    Why work with Sundried?

    I think it was the sustainable and ethical approach that made Sundried stand out to us. We both turned vegetarian last year and are very conscious at the moment of what is going on with our planet and how we can always do more.

    Posted by Alexandra Parren
  • Abby Scales Athlete Ambassador

    triathlon championships race

    Abby is a young athlete who has hopes of achieving a podium finish at an international level. She talks to Sundried about training and racing.

    Have you always been into sport?

    I have always been into sport, I was far too energetic as a kid not to be active. I played football for 9 years and massively enjoyed cross country at school. I then took up athletics and ended up taking up duathlon.

    How did you first get into triathlon?

    It was actually my dad's idea for me to try a duathlon; he somehow knew I would love it and he was right. I wasn't sure I would enjoy it as much as running. But as soon as I had crossed the finish line of my first race, I knew it was the sport for me. Everything that could have gone wrong went wrong in that race but I loved it.

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

    My favourite race has to be The London Landmarks Half Marathon. I hadn't put any pressure on myself and I had no idea what I was capable of achieving, because of this I felt calm and I set of and enjoyed every step. The crowds and the atmosphere were incredible. I raced so well and finished 14th lady overall which was a great added bonus but for me I just had a great time.

    What's your proudest achievement?

    I would have to say my proudest achievement was being selected to represent Great Britain at the European Age Group Duathlon in 2017, I had only competed at 3 duathlons and I was only 17.

    Have you ever had any racing disasters?

    I'm not sure I would call it a complete disaster but at my first duathlon I had a mechanical issue. After putting my chain back on 4 times and it coming straight back off, I was about to call it a day. I somehow managed to see that my front derailleur had been knocked (I had no bike knowledge at this point). I finished the race but I was miles behind.

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

    I wish I'd been told that you don't wear underwear under your bike shorts, I learned this the hard way.

    What are your goals?

    My long-term goal is to win a medal at the European Championships.

    Who inspires you?

    My biggest inspiration as a kid was my PE teacher, she has always believed in me. I have bumped into her a few times and the first thing she asks me is "are you still running?"

    Why work with Sundried?

    I work with Sundried because I agree with their company values. Why would you want to buy cheap and disposable clothing when you buy high quality at a reasonable price that will last.

    Posted by Alexandra Parren
  • Dave Catchpole Athlete Ambassador

    runner athlete fitness

    Dave was inspired into triathlon by his uncle. He talks to Sundried about training and racing.

    Have you always been into sport?

    Until recently sport for me was bowls, both indoor and outdoor. The peak for me was playing for Suffolk county U25 and winning club singles two years on the trot back in 2009/2010. Although I’ve taken a step back in the last couple of years I do plan on getting back into it in the near future, it may have a reputation for being an old person's sport but it’s a great sport to get involved in whatever your age.

    How did you first get into triathlon?

    My uncle started triathlon a few years before I did, seeing what he was achieving and having myself started running and already enjoying cycling I thought I’d challenge myself, swimming was, and still is my weakest discipline.

    What has been your favourite race to date and why?

    Tricky one. I love the atmosphere of Run Norwich.

    What is your proudest achievement?

    Finishing my first Half Marathon in 2018, having barely been able to run 50 metres the year before

    Have you ever had any racing disasters?

    A couple of days before the start of a Winter Cross Country league I decided it would be a good idea to do a little Cross Country practice round the local common, at night, safe to say didn’t end well, although I managed to miss the rabbit holes and tree routes round the loop, recent wet weather disguised some exposed brick rubble and I badly rolled my ankle. Took 4 months to recover from that one completely.

    How do you overcome setbacks?

    Injury setback was a case of training round it in other ways to maintain fitness, wasn’t quite straight forward to start with but with cycling (indoor turbo with Zwift) being relatively pain-free I was able to keep the joint mobile. About the only good thing to come out of Lockdown was the fact that as so many events were being cancelled and postponed I had little pressure to do too much during recovery.

    What are your goals?

    Took the plunge and tried open water swimming during lockdown, in a controlled safe environment, goal is to partake in a Half Ironman, then Ironman events in the next 2-3 years.

    Why work with Sundried?

    Long life, sustainability and making kit out recycling materials is a good thing to support.

    Posted by Alexandra Parren