Hi Nigel. Many thanks for speaking to Support through Sport UK. Firstly, can you tell us how you got into triathlon?
I first got into triathlon a few years ago. I was in my early sixties, had never been sporty, but had always enjoyed leisurely cycle rides. I was starting a new life after my divorce and had found a new friend of similar age and likes. Her son was a dedicated "Ironman" triathlete and, for his upcoming 40th birthday, had the idea of getting as many of his friends and family as possible to compete in a sprint event together – 400m swim, 20km bike and 5km run. It was the run that scared me, so I was ultra-cautious. I measured out a 25m figure of eight course in my flat and only when I had got up to 40 laps – one kilometre – did I have the courage to buy a pair of trainers and venture out on the streets. To my surprise, I really enjoyed early morning runs, even on frosty mornings, followed by hot shower and breakfast.
How would you say that triathlon has changed your life?
In small ways. It has given me an understanding of sport as a challenge for both body and mind.
We hear that Jenson Button was a fellow competitor in your first triathlon. Tell us more…
Yes, in my very first triathlon, that 40th birthday bash, I did compete against Jenson Button: he had come along as a childhood go-karting friend of one of the family cousins. We all set off together in the same wave, but results were segregated into five year age bands. Although I came in last as I was the only competitor in the 60-64 age range, I was ranked first in my category. Thus I could boast of competing against Jenson and coming first.
What would you say to anyone who thinks that they can’t take up triathlon as they’re no longer in their twenties or thirties?
It is this system of age categorisation that is so brilliant for people taking up triathlon in later life – you are mixing with all ages but have a real edge when it comes to the rankings.
What first steps would you advise that they take?
Take things easy. Start with the short super sprint distance. Not all events involve an open water swim – some use swimming pools – so you don't have to buy a wetsuit until you know you enjoy competing. Never mind about winning, just be happy to finish.
Many thanks for sharing your story with us, Nigel.
Support through Sport UK would like to thank Malcolm Sloan from Sports Injury Fix for arranging for us to speak to Nigel. Sports Injury Fix is a free, online resource that helps you to prevent sports-related injury or recover from injury. It allows you to search by who specialises in your sport and/or injury in your area.