Tom Hartwell Athlete Ambassador
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.