• Robert Blackmun Athlete Ambassador

    Ironman finisher triathlon

    Rob is a triathlete who completed a full Ironman in his back garden to raise money for charity. He talks to Sundried about training and racing.

    Have you always been into sport?

    I grew up mostly playing football but was always cycling or running around when not with a ball at my feet. I then started playing and coaching handball whilst at Loughborough Uni as well as dedicating more time to general fitness and gym work. I then got in to obstacle course racing (OCR) for a couple of years as I transitioned from team sports to more solo based, endurance sports.

    How did you first get into triathlon?

    I got my first road bike through the cycle to work scheme to commute to my first job after uni. As I was running more through doing OCR, I decided that I could combine the two and so I entered a local duathlon, it then wasn't long until I decided that two sports wasn't hard enough and triathlon beckoned. My first triathlon was a super sprint in 2016.

    What has been your favourite race to date and why?

    I raced with a good friend at the Hamburg Olympic distance triathlon which was an amazing experience and getting to watch the pros race topped it off nicely.

    What is your proudest achievement?

    My goal when starting triathlon was to one day do an Ironman, I achieved that in 2019 at Ironman UK which was an amazing feeling and definitely my proudest moment. A close second is in April this year (2020) I completed an "Ironman" in my back garden during lockdown to raise over £1200 for charity - running a marathon in 30m shuttles is not fun!

    Have you ever had any racing disasters?

    Touch wood, I've not yet had any major issues or disasters!

    How do you overcome setbacks?

    Having faith in knowing I've done the right training and preparation helps me to stay focused when things occasionally go of course. Mental strength is a big part of triathlon!

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

    Join a club! Training alone is great to help build resilience and simulate non-drafting cycling, but the enjoyment from training with others will make you train better and see greater improvements.

    What are your goals?

    Currently I'm looking at doing some ultra endurance cycling races as my main goals for 2022. I'll also be racing some time trials, circuit races and local duathlons as part of my training blocks

    Who inspires you?

    There's too many to list! Lucy Charles-Barkley is a great inspiration as she's so positive and demonstrates that hard work pays off. I'm also inspired by athletes from other disciplines who show dedication and an ambition to push the boundaries of what's possible, two notable ones being Eddie Hall and Ross Edgley.

    Why work with Sundried?

    A big passion of mine is sustainability so I love the ethos of Sundried in producing sportswear that lasts, and is made from recycled fabrics and coffee grounds!

    Posted by Alexandra Parren
  • Karle Howard Athlete Ambassador

    mountain bike outdoors forest adventure

    Karle enjoys getting stuck into his sport and has done some exciting races. He talks to Sundried about racing highs and lows.

    Have you always been into sport?

    I have always had an interest in sport, mainly cycling from an early age. I have grown to be much more competitive over the last 5-6 years and love to pin a number on my bag and race.

    How did you first get into triathlon?

    I think it took something like 15 years to actually do my first triathlon as I couldn’t swim. Having taught myself to do breaststroke, I entered a local pool-based triathlon in 2014, which I actually quite enjoyed!

    What has been your favourite race to date and why?

    My favourite race has to be the Trail X Cross Duathlon in 2018. It was in the New Forest and held in, what seemed to be, the middle of nowhere. The weather was typical late autumn and the course was superb as was the organisation. I finished the race with a massive smile, covered in mud, had nowhere to properly change and then had a 240 mile drive home.

    What is your proudest achievement?

    Representing GBR in Cross Duathlon as an age grouper is up there along with finishing Outlaw Half Holkham, having entered as a relay team and completing it solo as my swimmer was injured meaning that I had to complete my longest ever swim in a lake.

    Have you ever had any racing disasters?

    The biggest one coming back from the bike leg as part of a relay team at 70.3 Mallorca, having smashed it, only to find that my runner was still in the hotel having a snooze as they thought I would have been a little while longer!

    I also entered a mid-week evening criterium after work and when getting my bike out of the car realised that I had left my front wheel in the garage some 50 odd miles away.

    How do you overcome setbacks?

    I try not to put too much pressure on myself. If something happens that causes me a setback then I will look to reflect, usually over the following days, on what I could have done to change the outcome. I am a strong believer in ‘control the controllables’.

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

    That you don’t need all the kit and that you should just go out and enjoy the race with no pressure on your result.

    What are your goals?

    I would like to qualify again for the GBR Cross Duathlon age group team and improve on my overall placing.

    To maintain and improve my fitness and ability with my running and cycling.

    Who inspires you?

    The many people that you see at local events that are there for the first time competing with big smiles performing in front of family and friends that are standing out in the (usually) cold weather supporting and cheering on all the competitors.

    Why work with Sundried?

    I was hooked when reading about the ethics of the company and the high regard for the wellbeing of their staff, suppliers and athletes along with their recognition of the need for sustainably, innovation and ethical production which allows everyone to choose apparel that can have a huge impact on reducing waste, increasing recycling and building a community that, through small changes in our time conscious lives, can lead to a more positive and healthy lifestyle.

    Posted by Alexandra Parren
  • Darren Hayter Athlete Ambassador

    triathlete cycling training fitness

    Darren's father was a professional triathlete in his day and Darren has certainly inherited the bug. He now wants to pass it onto his daughter. He talks to Sundried about training and racing.

    Have you always been into sport?

    Yes, I’ve always been into sport. I started off as a club swimmer at the age of 4 then progressed through to county and national level. I played a bit of football and rugby but I always excelled in swimming and cycling.

    How did you first get into triathlon?

    With my dad being an ex pro triathlete, I was always watching him race so it was a natural progression for me to get into the sport and follow in his footsteps.

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

    My favourite race to date would be my first triathlon aged 9 and winning it. My dad won the men’s triathlon earlier in the day so it was a good day for us. I had a lot of attention around me due to who my dad was. It was overwhelming as a kid but I got used to it as I got older.

    What's been your proudest achievement?

    Swimming the English Channel solo in 2012 in a time of 12 hours 4 minutes is by far my proudest achievement. It's something I didn’t ever think I’d do. More people have climbed Everest than swam the channel so that really puts it into perspective.

    Have you ever had any racing disasters?

    I’ve had a fair few disasters, from crashing in the final lap of a crit race from 2nd, to hitting the wall in a triathlon and having to walk to a feed station.

    How do you overcome setbacks?

    I don’t dwell on the past or read too much into things. I learn from the setback (whether it’s injury, poor preparation, a crash etc) and put it into practice in the next training session or race. As I get older, my tactical head and race intelligence is probably as good as anyone’s on the start line, however my training and preparation has to be better than theirs for me to still be able to compete at such a high level against younger opposition.

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

    To race your own race. Not get caught up in fights you don’t need to and be confident in your own ability.

    What are your goals?

    To continue up through the levels of cycling after having a year off due to injury and be the best my ability allows. I’d also like to help my daughter in competitive swimming/cycling like my dad did for me.

    Who inspires you?

    My dad and my daughter. My dad due to being a pro triathlete in the 90s and representing GB. My daughter because she loves watching me race whether I win or lose and just wants to swim and cycle herself. She’s all about being outside and enjoying life and being healthy which I think kids nowadays lack.

    Why work with Sundried?

    I wanted to work with Sundried because I think the clothing range is second to none. It’s affordable, quality and looks amazing. I like where the brand is going and I want to be apart of it. With all the training and racing I do it’s a great way for me to help advertise Sundried along with my other sponsors. I like what Sundried stand for and what the brand has achieved already. I look forward to many years ahead with Sundried.

    Posted by Alexandra Parren
  • Andy Bourne Athlete Ambassador

    triathlete Team GB triathlon

    Andy is a strong swimmer and uses this to his advantage during triathlon racing. He talks to Sundried about life as a triathlete and three decades in the fitness industry.

    Please tell us about sporting events you have taken part in or have coming up.

    Events this year have been few and far between. Unfortunately, International and European Age Group races were cancelled, however I was able to squeeze in a middle distance event in the New Forest towards the end of August.

    The event was organised with strict social distancing protocols and the swim starts were set up at 30 second intervals. I have a swimming background and usually I focus on the standard distance races where the swimming is a more significant proportion of the race. The weather wasn't kind to us on the day and we raced in the rain through the beautiful New Forest, and despite taking a tumble on my bike I was able to complete the course in 4 hours 49 minutes. I was pleased with my efforts and managed an overall 15th place, and recorded the fastest swim time and achieved a first in my age group.

    During September I competed in a Be Endurance open water event at Herts Young Mariners Base in Cheshunt. My race was two laps of 750m and I managed to fight off the threat from the young club swimmers, who swam in my slipstream for the first 1k. The last few hundred metres were tough but I had created a sufficient gap between second place and myself to come home first.

    Throughout the winter, I usually enter a few duathlons, in an attempt to keep up some race sharpness, however, after the recent government announcement, I suspect I may need to wait to race again until 2021.

    Tell us about your journey to fitness? Where did it all start?

    I was a very active youngster and won several 3-legged races in the cub scouts. Like many boys of my era, my first love was playing all ball sports and I played football for my junior school at a very young age. At the age of 11, I had an unsuccessful trial at my local swimming club. Despite the assertion from the swim coach that I'd never be able to competitively swim a mile, I went on to swim for Team GB against the world record holder 10 years later.

    What are your training goals now?

    My two goals for next summer are to win the European and World Championships in my age group, however at this moment it's time to focus on the process of training twice a day. As a more mature triathlete, I'm working on my strength and staying fit, healthy and injury-free.

    Tell us one unusual fact we wouldn’t know about you:

    As a young child, I remember banging my head on the floor if I didn't get my way. Fortunately, I show a little more emotional maturity now I'm 59 years of age and I channel my determination in a less painful way.

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

    Even though I wanted to be the first man on the moon and was a little disappointed when Neil Armstrong beat me to this achievement, I wish I'd had more support from my school teachers. Despite the encouragement of my parents to be whatever I wanted to be, there were few teachers in my school years that believed in my sporting potential. I had two stand-out swimming coaches who supported me to achieve my potential as a competitive swimmer. I only wish that my school teachers had shown a little more understanding of how I should best combine my education and sporting goals.

    Do you follow a specific nutrition plan? If so, what/when do you eat?

    I don't follow a specific nutrition plan. On the whole, I eat a healthy and vegetable orientated diet. My main weakness is chocolate!

    What do you do to keep your clients motivated? Do you have any top tips to keep motivated?

    I'm a firm believer that motivation comes from within. First and foremost, clients need to take responsibility for their own emotional and physical well-being. I build on a person's strengths to provide them with the confidence to change things or stick to the plan, even if they occasionally slip up. Whilst goal setting plays an important part in setting out the direction of travel, I think it's important to try and enjoy the journey.

    Talk us through your training regime.

    My weekly regime includes an 80% and 20% blend of low to high intensity training. I incorporate some VO2 max threshold interval work with low level level endurance heart rate training. During the season, I'll introduce more race pace sets and have a little more rest, particularly leading up to races. On the whole, I train for between 15 and 18 hours a week. This may climb to around 22 hours a week in the late Spring and drop to 12 hours a week in the autumn. Each week I swim for 4 to 5 hours, bike for 8 hours, run for around 2 to 3 hours and 2 hours of S&C.

    How do you keep your fitness knowledge up to date?

    I listen to podcasts, however, I've worked in the fitness industry industry for over 3 decades so I stay abreast of new developments and ideas through the trade press and media.

    What are your top 3 trainer tips?

    1. Keep your weight under control without losing muscle mass and strength.
    2. Incorporate S&C and mobility work.
    3. Ensure you sleep for a minimum of 8 hours a night.

    If you could only eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be?

    Chocolate ... seriously all types of vegetables!

    Why work with Sundried?

    I'm passionate about the planet and the environment and love the eco-friendly range of Sundried products.

    Favourite fitness quote:

    "Be the best you can be."

    Posted by Alexandra Parren
  • Steve Clark Athlete Ambassador

    Sundried trisuit racing

    Steve was stuck in the "eat, sleep, work, repeat" cycle until he joined his colleagues for a triathlon. He talks to Sundried about his journey and love of triathlon.

    Have you always been into sport?

    I’ve always been into sport, especially when younger, with representative honours for school, district and county level for cricket, football and basketball. Sport then took a back seat for many years until I “discovered” triathlon.

    How did you first get into triathlon?

    I lived and worked in Saudi Arabia for many years and it was just “eat, sleep work, repeat” until I was asked to join a relay team for the Abu Dhabi International Triathlon in 2014 doing the bike leg. I’d started cycling in 2012 and completed London to Paris in 2013 so a colleague at work thought I’d be a good addition to their team. I enjoyed the experience so much, I joined the Riyadh Triathlon Club and started training (first time I’d trained properly for about 35 years). I was around 110kg at the time and from the April to December lost 22kg. No dieting, just training and eating better.

    What has been your favourite race to date and why?

    It has to be my first Ironman in Austria in 2016, two years after starting triathlon. From a 110kg overweight executive two years before I was doing something that I (as well as many others) never thought possible. I enjoyed every minute of the 140.6 miles and crossing that finish line was just the best feeling.

    What is your proudest achievement?

    Other than my first Ironman, being selected for GB Age Group for the Aquabike World Championships in Pontevedra in 2019. I was so proud to wear that GB kit with my name on, especially at the tender age of 61.

    Have you ever had any racing disasters?

    My first Olympic Distance race in 2014 in Riyadh. It was just five months after starting triathlon and still relatively naive about the nutrition side and over hydrated badly. I was so ill immediately after the race and took four days to recover. That's when I started to take the whole triathlon experience seriously, not just training, but nutrition as well. Also, my first 70.3 was in Bahrain in December 2014 (Challenge Bahrain) and I left all my nutrition and drinks in the fridge at the villa we were staying at, so had to rely on the aid stations and new products for my fuel.

    How do you overcome setbacks?

    Staying positive and learning from them. Plus accepting my running is my weakest part and that others will pass me on the run, so I have to work much harder.

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

    How important nutrition is after my episode at my first Olympic Distance race in Riyadh.

    What are your goals?

    Develop my coaching side and giving something back to others that I have learnt over the last six years from a position of an overweight businessman going through the “eat, sleep, work, repeat” lifestyle and encouraging others like me that they can do the same. Plus to wear the GB Team kit again but this time at triathlon, not just Aquabike, proving that I can run :-)

    Who inspires you?

    In general it has to be my daughter Louise. She was diagnosed with MS in 2017, but since then has completed several triathlons (two in Abu Dhabi), half marathons and several 10k’s. She is a fighter and won’t let MS beat her. In triathlon it has to be Emma Pallant. In 2015 I was taking part in the Abu Dhabi Triathlon again, with the Riyadh Tri Club, and after our races we watched the Elite Mens and Women’s races. Emma was last out of the water by quite some way (she had trouble with her goggles I think), but she didn’t give up, was so determined and gave everything on the bike and run to not only finish, but passed 16 others athletes on the way. Her coaches were Stuart Hayes and Michelle Dillon (Team Dillon) and Stuart became my coach later that year, and got me to Ironman and the ITU Worlds for Aquabike. Emma is now a good friend.

    Why work with Sundried?

    I’ve used the Sundried kit for some time and found it really comfortable. Plus the fact they are also a sustainable company, making sports and leisure clothing from 100% recycled materials. We should all be conscious of the environment and to work with a company like Sundried helps in a little way to do this.

    Posted by Alexandra Parren