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Willy Duhen Athlete Ambassador

by Alexandra Parren

Sundried athlete ambassador

Willy is a triathlete who enjoys the training process as well as racing. He talks to Sundried about life as a triathlete.

Have you always been into sport?

Yes, absolutely. My parents encouraged me very early to choose a sport that I liked, and I practised different sports like judo, basketball, tennis, volleyball, and badminton - but swimming was the one that I've stuck with since a young age.

What made you decide to enter the world of triathlon?

I caught the triathlon bug after I moved to the UK and properly discovered open water swimming. Since I met my wife, Michele, we've been running together and further, up to marathon distance. Triathlon was the next logical step. I just had to buy a bike, then I signed up to my first triathlon, the Olympic in Windsor. The challenge of combining three sports and being resilient through the effort was very appealing to me. During that race, I was passed by the winner of the race and I was impressed by her running form and speed, while I was struggling. Emma became my coach after that.

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

I love the Windsor triathlon and I try to do it every year. It's a great event, friendly, and we always have a great weekend there. I also loved the half Ironman in Gdynia, Poland. The destination is less popular than others, but the atmosphere is fantastic. I executed the race exactly as I planned it and the finish line was a lot of fun.

And your proudest achievement?

Convincing my wife to start cycling. In general, I am happy when I see people around me picking up physical activity after following my adventures. My personal proudest achievement is the consistency I put into my training over the years.

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

Well, I'd not say I had disasters because bad races are part of the learning process. I've finished all my races and never got injured during one, so clearly no disaster there! However, the toughest race I had was a duathlon at Dorney Lake. It was freezing cold and windy, I wasn't prepared enough and the bike part was horrible. I wanted to throw my bike in the lake - but I kept going, finished and learnt a lot from it.

How do you overcome setbacks?

By being resilient and following the plan and the training. My routine is what I can rely on every day: whatever is marked in the calendar, I just do it and know that better days will come soon.

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

Do not focus on the numbers from your watch or bike computer. I appreciate we need to get reassurance that the work and efforts we are putting in pay off, but I realised that those numbers put too much emphasis on the short term result and can create unnecessary frustration.

What are your goals?

With the change of plans that we're all facing this year, I am not sure if my Ironman Italy goal will go ahead. I have also the New York marathon in the calendar and a few other races. They might be cancelled or postponed. So, I am focussing on my routine instead of a specific goal: trying not to be distracted or discouraged by events I cannot control and enjoying the training.

Who do you take your inspiration from?

I'm inspired by people around me who, day after day, train and manage their professional and personal life together, like my wife Michele. I am also inspired by the determination of people who have less physical capacities, who run a marathon or race a triathlon, but finish near the cut off. I find those people having an extraordinary mental strength to run for a lot of hours, to keep going when the crowd is gone or the organiser is wrapping the course up.

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

I love the good vibes generated by the ethical and social responsibility Sundried put into their daily work and products. I currently wear the bib shorts during my long turbo sessions at home and they do the job perfectly.

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