Adam Bennett is a regular writer for TriReview and has just raced his first Ironman as a GB Age Grouper. At last month’s ETU Middle Distance Championships in Paguera-Mallorca he wore the famous GB kit and finished an impressive 12th in his age group and around 75th overall excluding the pro athletes. So what’s it like to race as a GB Age Grouper…
Tell us a bit about yourself…
I’m 26 years old and work in Financial Services (thrilling, I know) – I got into triathlon off the back of running a few marathons & half marathons. I played team sports (particularly cricket & football) to a fairly competitive level throughout my childhood and I tended to use running as a way of staying in shape for those. Myself and a few friends managed to get charity places to run the New York Marathon in 2010 and, despite telling my mum at the finish line I would never do another marathon, I was hooked on endurance sport.
After running a few more marathons I felt like I needed a new challenge – a couple of my friends had done Ironman races and being quite a competitive person, I decided that I could too. So I signed up for Ironman UK in 2013 despite not owning a bike and not being able to swim more than 8-10 lengths consecutively!
I enjoy the variety of training for the three different disciplines, and the atmosphere and camaraderie that surrounds triathlon events is pretty special. Most of all I like being able to eat lots!
What made you want to race for GB?
I’m not going to lie, it was all about the kit! I’m only part joking…
It was never a specific aim of mine to become a GB Age Grouper, in fact the first I ever knew about GB age group racing was from trying my hardest to overtake other competitors that had their name on their trisuit (because they must be good, right?!)
After finishing Bolton I realised that I had posted ‘qualifying’ time, and I thought it would be a pretty cool thing to do – I don’t think I will ever have another opportunity to represent my country, even if it was only as an age grouper. I’m really glad I did it as it was a fantastic race and a really great experience that I’ll never forget.
How difficult was it to become a GB Age Grouper?
Qualification for the longer distance races (middle distance & long distance) are judged by time, rather than specific qualification races. You have to have a qualifying time for a similar distance race, where you have finished within a certain percentage of the age-group winner – I managed to achieve a qualifying time at Ironman UK. The registration process was pretty simple and all completed on the BTF website.
Ordering and receiving the kit was obviously the highlight! ZeroD produce the age group kit and Blade Printing do the name printing (if you so wish) – it’s nice gear and great to have as a memento of the experience.
What did it mean for you to race for GB?
The best thing about pulling on the GB trisuit was the amount of support that I got from friends & family of the other GB athletes – there was a huge number of GB age groupers in Mallorca for the race, and it was pretty fun hearing loads of people shouting ‘GO ON BENNETT’ as I melted in the sun.
It was a really great experience overall, partly due to the efforts of the GB team manager Brent Perkins – he was brilliant.
It was a bit of a struggle to train consistently for the race as it was pretty late in the season and I lost my mojo somewhat after finishing Ironman Copenhagen at the end of August, so I went with the aim of enjoying the experience and not embarrassing myself!
I was therefore pretty chuffed to finish 12th in my age group at the European Championships (I think 5th or 6th Brit) and about 75th overall excluding the pro athletes.
The focus for the first part of next year will be running – I’ve lined up a few half marathons (including Berlin which should be fun) and want to knock out a good marathon time in London. After two years of racing Ironman at the moment I do not intend on going long next year, but depending on how training etc goes would like to try to qualify for the Ironman 70.3 World Champs which are being held in Europe for the first time.
We all wish Adam the best of luck! You can read more about his tri adventures on his blog: https://adambennett17.wordpress.com/
And follow him here: https://twitter.com/Tri_Bennett
For more info about how to become a GB Age Grouper check out the British Triathlon website here.