• Chris Wood Athlete Ambassador

    triathlete running training workout

    Chris has been racing and competing in triathlon at a high level for many years. He talks to Sundried about his triathlon journey.

    Have you always been into sport?

    Yes, pretty much. I rode a bike from as soon as I could and played every sport available both in and out of school; rugby, football, tennis, squash, cricket, skiing, cross country, athletics. I always liked being outdoors. Also, being in the Scouts and doing The Duke of Edinburgh Award were fantastic for adventure and working as a team.

    What made you decide to enter the world of triathlon?

    I first dabbled with triathlon around 2003 whilst living in London; I swam in an oversized windsurfing wetsuit, rode a mountain bike with road tyres, and wore running shoes with too many miles in them. It took until 2008 and a chance meeting with a 17-time Ironman who'd just got back from Race Across America, that I got properly introduced to the sport, and got the bug from there.

    I entered my first full Ironman (Switzerland 2009) without knowing entirely what it entailed and have since completed 5 more. I qualified to race my first European Championships in 2011 and have qualified for the Team GB Age Group team 10 times since.

    I have raced on Team MaccaX, now MX Endurance, founded by Chris McCormack, since 2013, so have been fortunate enough to meet and learn from a host of professional athletes and coaches and generally a great team. I think the multi-sport element has always appealed both in a fun and challenging way, and balancing the blend of them all

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

    A few race highlights include Challenge Roth in 2014, despite melting in the heat, for the total experience. It's an amazing event, venue, course, crowd and the history.

    The Ironman 70.3 World Championships in Zell am See in 2015 as the first outside of the U.S and the Ironman 70.3 World Championships Nice in 2019. World Championships are always special; having the best in the world there on the same course is amazing to see and be a part of.

    I'd also say the inaugural Super League Jersey for an out-and-out weekend of a lifetime, both racing and socialising with the professionals. Such fun but tough race formats and great for spectators.

    So all for different reasons, experiences and outcomes, but that in many ways is how triathlon racing is.

    And your proudest achievement?

    Qualifying to race my first European Championship in 2011 and represent Team GB.

    My first podium at the Outlaw half in 2014 which started a season of podiums and success at Bala, Challenge Vichy, European Middle Distance Champs, Roth, Gold at the Club Relays and an overall race win.

    But completing those savagely hot events where you're on the absolute limit, such as Challenge Roth and Ironman Zell am See, are as equally rewarding.

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

    I've twice crashed at the same sprint triathlon that I've also won twice. Once was my fault, taking a bend too quickly and ending up face first into a brook resulting in a painful DNF. The second not my fault but resulting in a horrible case of road rash.

    Challenge Roth 2014 became a matter of survival from the scorching heat. An enforced 40-minute lie in a hedge to cool down and re-hydrate was the big learning curve in terms of long distance racing in the heat and managing nutrition.

    Also, racing the World Duathlon Champs in Nancy with an Achilles injury. It was horrible on the run and the cobbles in particular, but it was a case of getting it done. Those types of situations teach you a lot more about yourself, your mindset and willpower than when things are all going smoothly.

    How do you overcome setbacks?

    Don't be afraid to take a step back and assess things honestly. It's easy to be disappointed with a result or outcome but it's more important to identify why and how to remedy it. Be prepared to look at other solutions or ask advice.

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

    Fortunately, I was well advised but essentially that you don't need loads of kit to get started. Seek out a local club where they will offer plenty of advice. Commit the time and effort to train well and hard, don't rely on a lot of new kit and gadgets. Just give it a go, enjoy the short distances to get started, and have fun.

    What are your goals for 2019 and 2020?

    2019 became a focus on the 70.3 World Champs in Nice. Whilst successful, a broken bike in the week leading up to the event hampered the outcome but I still had a great time. 2020 will hopefully involve a European Middle Distance Champs and Alpe d'Huez LC alongside racing plenty of new and local events. I might also have a stab at the 70.3 Worlds again.

    Who do you take your inspiration from?

    Triathlon related, Chris McCormack, as his results and longevity speak for themselves, but always brought some character and spice to the proceedings. And since retiring, putting it back into Triathlon. Also a great knowledge on the history of Triathlon and sport generally. Alistair for changing the way ITU was raced, Javier for his consistency and certainly both for their versatility and abilities to cross distances is incredible, but there's some many up and coming athletes and those from different sporting backgrounds that it makes for more unpredictable racing and race dynamics. From sport outside of Triathlon, Valentino Rossi, Jonny Wilkinson, Therese Johaug, all England Rugby. And those many newcomers to the sport, or those trying to progress in each disciplines that we meet via coaching, working hard and learning. Great fun and always inspiring.

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

    There is a great range of kit to suit both indoor and outdoor activities and across the seasons, which is ideal when sport & training is very much a lifestyle. But likewise that Sundried have a strong emphasis on caring for the environment and do something proactively about it via the composition of their garments.

    Posted by Alexandra Parren
  • Bill Irvine Athlete Ambassador

    triathlete cycling Sundried activewear

    Bill grew up in South Africa and has enjoyed sport his whole life. He talks to Sundried about life as a triathlete.

    Have you always been into sport?

    Yes, I grew up in South Africa where we enjoyed a very outdoor lifestyle. Taking part in lots of different sports was pretty much a way of life and actually compulsory at one of my schools. I was fortunate to have opportunities to try a lot of things and spent quite a lot of time playing rugby, basketball, golf and tennis as well as fun stuff like surfing and cycling. Athletics and running were never my favourite things but I definitely grew into them as an adult.

    What made you decide to enter the world of triathlon?

    I had some running injuries and was feeling sorry for myself when I bumped into a relative at a family gathering. When I told him I wasn't running that much, he asked if I had a bike. When I answered yes, he told me without any hesitation that I should be doing triathlon. That sowed the seed. I had a look, liked what I saw, and just went for it. Now, I train with a club and race whenever I can. I am also a Regional Technical Official so my calendar is pretty full during the season.

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

    My first race, which was a super sprint at Knockburn Loch in Aberdeenshire. I still remember that massive adrenaline rush of getting out of the loch, jumping on my bike, riding as hard as I could and feeling the water drying off me. After about a mile, there’s a great downhill section though the woods where I just whooped out loud I was so excited. It was quite a small field and I managed to win the prize for being 1st overall male which I’ve never achieved since!

    And your proudest achievement?

    Probably finishing my first marathon in Edinburgh. Crossing the line, I wasn't sure whether to laugh, cry or fall down. I had trained for months with a gang of four friends and it was amazing to meet up with them all minutes afterwards and realise the job was done.

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

    No real disasters but my toughest race was a triathlon in the spring where it was extremely wet, windy and cold. I was carrying a foot injury and probably shouldn’t have been racing. By the time I got off the bike, my feet were like blocks of ice and I went into the run with not much sensation in them. By the end of the run, I was in so much pain I could hardly walk. I learned a lot from that!

    How do you overcome setbacks?

    Take a look at how far I’ve come. I developed some unhealthy habits in my 20s but I now get so much enjoyment out of pushing my body in training and competing that it would be crazy to revert to those. I’ve also come to accept that the older we get, the longer it takes for injuries to go away.

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

    Buying more bikes won't make you any faster.

    What are your goals for 2020?

    Remaining injury-free! It’s frustrating when a good block of training is cut short because of aches and pains. Event-wise, I am undecided but there are a couple of exotic middle distance races I’m looking at and I might just squeeze in another marathon in the autumn.

    Who do you take your inspiration from?

    I have a couple of favourite athletes but generally it's the guys and girls who compete at the top level and don't let bad situations get the better of them. I really admire that mental toughness that is so evident in some athletes during long races.

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

    I like that that Sundried do so much charity work. Growing up where I did, I realise that participation in sport is a privilege and the fact the company donates to less privileged causes is great.

    The soft shell jacket is great. It's warm, comfortable and looks awesome with the Sundried logo placement.

    Posted by Alexandra Parren
  • Sara Symington Athlete Ambassador

    cyclist athlete activewear

    Sara is an ex-Olympian who has a real sense of adventure. She talks to Sundried about life on two wheels.

    Have you always been into sport?

    Yes, it’s been in my DNA since I was a child when my mum often found me climbing 6 foot fences at the age of 3 when we lived in Venezuela.

    What made you decide to enter the world of triathlon?

    I was always fascinated by the concept of mixing three of the sports I loved. I decided to give it a go once I started working because it allowed me more freedom to train than potentially other sports with matches.

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

    Alpe d’Huez middle distance triathlon. It has kept its local charm and you swim in the most beautiful glacial lake followed by a pedal in the most beautiful countryside (including Alpe d’Huez) and the run is mostly off-road!

    And your proudest achievement?

    Representing Team GB at the Olympic Games in 2000 and 2004 in cycling (road racing).

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

    I’ve raced across most continents in the world and there have been a few disasters! The most recent was probably Alpe d’Huez where the heat was so oppressive (45 degrees Celsius) and it took every ounce of effort to climb the last mountain, let alone ‘stumble’ round the half marathon! It definitely became ‘mind over matter'.

    How do you overcome setbacks?

    Try not to be over-critical of yourself and learn (fast) from your mistakes.

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

    Listen to your body and be guided by an experienced coach. I ended up with chronic fatigue in 1996 – I learnt a lot from this episode in my life.

    What are your goals for 2020?

    This year is more about experiences and journeys rather than a number on my back. 

    • Cycling in Lanzarote and Majorca 
    • Kayaking, running and cycling across the Haida Gwaii Islands in Canada
    • Cycling off-road from the Peak District to Edinburgh
    • Racing at the Otterburn Ranges in Northumberland
    • Running Southampton Marathon
    • Running several half marathon trail races in Devon
    • Swimming the Dart 10km

    Who do you take your inspiration from?

    Anyone who has a sense of adventure and gives things a go!

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

    It’s a young company daring to be different in their approach to producing sports kit ethically but retaining quality! I love that. My favourite kit is the Sundried Velo Short Sleeved Women’s Cycle Jersey.

    Posted by Alexandra Parren
  • Abbie Roberts Athlete Ambassador

    mud run obstacle course racing

    Abbie comes from a swimming background and found a natural progression to triathlon via duathlon. She talks to Sundried about racing highs and lows.

    Have you always been into sport?

    I grew up spending the majority of my childhood in water which started with my dad teaching me to swim from an early age. I went on to compete at county level and up until a couple of years ago I had never really taken part in any 'land based' sport. In 2016, I was on a placement year and lots of team members were cycling to work, I got jealous and decided to give it ago on my childhood mountain bike. From then I gradually got fitter and my interest in cycling grew.

    What made you decide to enter the world of triathlon?

    After I started commuting, I began cycling on weekends and then entered a local super sprint triathlon without really thinking about the running part. I started training and found it really tough, but I persevered until the event. After that, I thought 'that wasn't so bad after all' and I was hooked from then

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

    Other than the Outlaw Half, there are two others I have really enjoyed. The first being Portishead Sprint, which starts off in a lido and has a very hilly bike course. The run takes you along a trail next to the river and by this point there always seems to be a spectacular sunrise over the water. Even last year where there was torrential rain on the bike, the sun came out for the run. My second is the Wolf Run, a 10k obstacle event. There was so much mud and I didn't anticipate that much swimming. It took about three hours for our team to get round, but I enjoyed there being no time pressure. And it also had a huge water slide in the middle!

    And your proudest achievement?

    So far, completing my first middle distance at the Nottingham Outlaw Half last year. The swim and bike went really well, but I found the run tough (mostly due to dehydration). But running down that final straight to the finish line with everyone cheering felt amazing and I crossed the line knowing that my granddad would have been proud of me.

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

    I think I learned the lesson early on about remembering where you left your bike in transition. I made the mistake of noting that I was next to a bright pink bike. Safe to say it was not there when I came to T1 and I ended up running around transition 3 times! It was a duathlon, so then I couldn't remember where I left my running shoes and had a similar problem in T2.

    How do you overcome setbacks?

    Know that injury or illness will happen at some point, but it is important to determine if these could have been preventable. If you have a niggle that you ignore and it gets worse then this is a hard lesson learnt, but you are less likely to do it again. If I am out of action for whatever reason, I like to use this time productively to do some reading on nutrition, planning my race calendar, or working on my mental strength.

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

    It won't be easy and be prepared for a lot of early mornings, but your biggest obstacle is your mind! I have since discovered that if you get your mind in the right place, your body can achieve things you didn't know it could. And as for the early mornings, they aren't so bad, you just need to be strict about going to bed earlier.

    What are your goals for 2020?

    I have the European Aquabike Championships in Austria at the end of June, which I am really focused on. I also have a trip to the Alps at the beginning of June, which I am going to use as a last minute training camp. Currently, the only other race I have planned is The Sandman in North Wales, which I have heard is tough, but am hoping to use this to qualify for the European Middle Distance Championships next year.

    Who do you take your inspiration from?

    I follow a lot of athletes on social media and love a good motivational post. But I also think that if you surround yourself with motivational people it naturally rubs off on you. One of my biggest influences is my dad. I remember being stood cheering him on as he finished his first 70.3, but seeing some people collapse over the finish line I couldn't understand why anyone would do this to themselves. I never dreamed that that would be me in 12 years time.

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

    I love the sustainability focus as this is something that is really important to me, but I also value quality. The kit doesn't feel compromised by this and the design is very sleek. I really like the cycling jerseys and sports bra. I do also have my eye on the aero skinsuit, but am yet to try that one out.

    Posted by Alexandra Parren
  • Chris Dominey Athlete Ambassador

    triathlete cycling aero bike

    Chris is an Ironman triathlete who knows that hard work pays off. He talks to Sundried about training and racing.

    Have you always been into sport?

    I have always been into sport and represented my school at most sports growing up. I was always fairly strong at swimming but did not enjoy the hours of training as a youngster so switched my loyalties to football, which although I had no real talent for, I enjoyed the banter and social elements!

    What made you decide to enter the world of triathlon?

    Triathlon came to me in my mid to late twenties really, I was working in the local gym and a few members were doing a small sprint event at another leisure centre. It sounded fun and so after borrowing a bike and about 6 weeks of training, I gave it a go. I can always remember trying to get my t-shirt on over a wet body after the swim, it took forever and I think a trisuit was my next purchase.

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

    I think my favourite race was probably Challenge Walchsee in Austria, it’s a half Ironman distance race and I raced as part of the GB Age Group team for the European Championships. It was set with the most amazing backdrop of mountains and pretty much every photo I have of the race looks like a postcard image. Competing in the GB Trisuit also made it one of my proudest moments.

    And your proudest achievement?

    Along with the GB race previously mentioned, I would have to say Challenge Almere 2019 ranks up there as my proudest sporting achievement as I finally broke the 11-hour barrier for an Ironman distance race. It took me 3 years and 2 failed attempts to finally hit this goal and there were plenty of times along the way I questioned my desire to keep trying. Crossing that line and knowing I had done what was 3 years in the making made it quite an emotional finish.

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

    Plenty! One that springs to mind recently was during the Outlaw Half in Nottingham. I was having a pretty good race until my tri bars shook loose on the bike and I had to spend the last 15 miles holding them in place, petrified they were going to fall off completely. Lesson – check all your bolts the day before!

    How do you overcome setbacks?

    Analyse why things didn’t go right and look for solutions that you can implement to minimise these risks going forward. Also, do not be afraid to ask for help, sometimes it takes someone looking in from a different perspective to truly find the missing piece to the jigsaw.

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

    Practice transitions!

    What are your goals for 2020?

    No full Ironman for me this year, as I think my body and brain need a break from it. I am hoping to be selected for the GB Aquabike Age Group team in Almere. I would like to break my PB at the Cotswold 113 event in June and do my best at the Alpe d’Huez short course triathlon in July. Most of all this year I want to just enjoy racing.

    Who do you take your inspiration from?

    I have two amazing daughters and they really do inspire me every day with their zest for life. The oldest has started triathlons now and I coach the local junior club. Seeing the youngsters enjoying and thriving in a sport that has given me so much is just awesome.

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

    Initially, I was going to say the Cadence Cycling kit, as when wearing it I feel like a total professional, but having bought the Sundried Plaret T-shirt I would have to say that. It is great quality and really multi-functional, in fact the fit is so good I end up wearing it with jeans as well as when I am training. The fact that it is made from recycled plastic bottles blows my mind!

    The Sundried ethos is so on point with where companies should be heading and the fact the kit is top quality at such a competitive price point, I really wish I found Sundried sooner.

    Posted by Alexandra Parren