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Mark’s GB Triathlon Russian Adventure

My story

It was the chubby, grey looking, early middle aged man looking back at me out of the mirror that originally stirred me into a greater degree of physical exercise. This, and probably too many sherries, played their part in me accepting the pub challenge (never a good idea) to take part in the Dartmoor Classic Cycling Sportive. What I hadn’t realised was that once that was successfully completed I’d put myself in prime position to receive other ‘kind’ invitations, and so it was that I ended up competing in my first triathlon, the Nearwater St Mawes Triathlon of 2011. The friend that talked me into it runs with the speed and elegance of a gazelle, so needless to say the plodding elephant that I was at that stage, came a graceful second in our personal race. But the real bonus was that I’d really enjoyed the triathlon and hadn’t done that badly for a novice, all things considered.

So, the intervening years have been spent, slowly getting quicker, and thinner, whilst quickly getting older. In 2017 my attention turned to trying to qualify for team GB, and in 2018 I started with a triathlon coach to help reach that goal. Now at the grand old age of 51 I’ve qualified and I’m pulling on a GB vest for the first (and possibly the last!) time – making an old guy quite proud.
I’ll be representing Great Britain in the 50-54 age group at the ETU European Sprint Triathlon Championships in Kazan, which is an hour and a half flight east of Moscow, in Russia, on 28th July 2019. I’ll let you know how I get on!

I’m very fortunate that my employer, Fugro, has kindly sponsored me for this event. This got me thinking that it would be a great opportunity to give back something to my local community, for a cause that had some personal meaning to myself.

Towards the end of last year I unfortunately suffered some mental health issues. This came as a great shock to me, coming from almost nowhere, and something I’d never experienced before. A couple of things conspired to happen at the same time and completely did for me. I couldn’t understand it as I’d lived through incredibly more stressful situations in the past without batting an eyelid, and was definitely more of the ignorant dinosaur ‘man up princess’ mindset. I don’t drink much, I don’t smoke or take drugs, I eat fairly healthily, exercise regularly, and I’m very rarely ill, but found myself spinning out of control with something that became very debilitating, very quickly, and during this time my training was next to non-existent. To those looking in from outside, things probably didn’t look that much different, but like the proverbial swan, under the surface my legs were spinning like crazy.

I was fortunate, I had the help of an extremely supportive GP, Clinical Psychologist, and family, and I’m well on the road to recovery. I didn’t use the services of Cornwall or Carrick Mind, but my experience made me realise what a finely balanced thing our minds are, and that mental health charities can literally be a lifeline, worthy of our support.

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