I had been running a food business delivering meat and fish to some of the best restaurants in London for seven years by the time I was 30. It’s perhaps not so surprising that on my thirtieth birthday I weighed 95.25kg — too much good food. Only seven years before that, starting university, I was a lean 80kg. I realised that if I didn’t do something about my weight I was on my way to becoming properly fat.
Having never been at all interested in athletics or sport of any kind, and having done hardly any since school, whilst watching the London Marathon, I suddenly decided: I’m going to do that! I started with the New York marathon seven months later in November 1999. I was wise enough to embark upon a 12-week training programme with an old school friend but nonetheless, on the day, I hit the wall at 17 miles. One way or another I dragged myself across the finishing line in Central Park completing in 4:52:53.
However, far from having my fingers burnt I started an 18-month taper, completed the New York Marathon again in 2001 and shaved my time down to 4:15. By now I was hooked. I joined my local running club, the St Alban’s Striders and by 2004/5 I was running 3 times a week and was down to 3:18.
It was at the St Alban’s Striders that I met Brendan McKeon. Though he ran in the club his colours were pinned to cycling. He represented Britain as a cyclist at the Olympics in 1964 and 1968. He is truly remarkable man. In the 60s he was achieving a sub 22-minute 10-mile and a sub 54-minute 25-mile time trial. I think even today he would only be a few minutes off both those time. He was the man who inspired me to get on a bike and in 2005 I learned to ride a bike like a professional.
It didn’t stop there though, I also learned how to swim like an athlete. Just as the Marathon had presented itself as a reason to get up and get fit, so did Ironman now loom before me as a mountain that had to be climbed.
My first race was the Vitruvian in the same year, 2005, and was only 6km short of Ironman distances in the cycling race. I finished 4:58:00 and thought that I couldn’t be all that bad at triathlon…
Since that race I have completed one full Ironman, many half Ironmans and represented GB at two Ironman 70.3 World Championships.
Everyone has their own journey to becoming a triathlete. Mine might not be very unusual, but I hope that this story might encourage new athletes. When people say to me they just don’t have the time I feel compelled to explain that looking after your health, staying fit and having fun is worth making the time for. What’s more, I do this while running a £100m turnover business which employs 560 people, supplying fish and meat across the nation. Not to mention serving as a magistrate, being an Affiliate Professor at the European School of Business Management and being married to a wonderful woman and brining up three healthy and well-educated children
Anyone can have a busy life and be fit. I suggest cut out the TV junk and do fitness instead. All aspects of your life will give you more pleasure being on top of your physical game. Anything is possible.