Former soldier Adam inspired to take up triathlon after volunteering at Leeds

04 October, 2017

Former soldier Adam inspired to take up triathlon after volunteering at Leeds

Adam Blackburn was inspired by the best when he saw them compete at the London 2012 Olympics. A former soldier who served 14 years in the British Army including 2 tours of Afghanistan and other deployments to Cyprus, Germany, Gibraltar and USA has always been into fitness since he was a young boy playing Football and Rugby around the streets of Leeds. This carried on into his military career where he did around 4 sessions a week with the other members of his unit.

When he watched the London 2012 Olympics and saw the now famous pictures of the Brownlee brothers he was not only inspired in watching them compete but was incredibly interested in the sport itself. He felt an incredible sense of proud watching two boys from his hometown compete in the Olympics.

“Around 2 years ago, I had finished playing football but needed a new goal in life. I continued with the gym and training as this had been a massive part of my life but needed a goal to train for. I decided to start running and then I heard of Parkrun which was a free weekly run. Because of my location, I was incredibly lucky to find one so close to where I live. After completing a few of these races and connecting with other runners in the area, I was then asked if I would be interested in joining a local running club called South Leeds Lakers. After I joined and competed in a few more races I started gaining personal bests and then I started beating them.

I swayed towards triathlon when it was announced that Leeds would play host to the World Triathlon Series. I was delighted because this meant that I could watch a sport I had come to adore and support the Brownlee brothers in person. While I was browsing on the internet, I came across a noticed that told me they were looking for volunteers on the day. I quickly jumped at the chance to volunteer and I was given the position on the swim start on the Saturday and Sunday. On Saturday I got to see the Juniors and Age-Group Sprint races take place but on the Sunday, it was the turn of the elite racers and the Age-Group Standard race. Watching the Elites was an amazing experience but it was one Age-Group athlete that stood out. A man who was around 80 was taking on the triathlon. When I saw him get ready for this race I told myself that in 12 months’ time I would be in his position.

Because I knew I would be capable of the running I tried to focus on the other two disciplines of Swimming and Cycling. I started to gradually buy my equipment and the most expensive purchase was the road bike. Working alongside my running club, I soon learnt to run as soon as I dismounted the bike. I also began training in the pool but because I have previously dislocated my shoulder 4 times and had 2 surgeries, I knew that swimming would be my Achilles heel. I learnt how to breast stroke instead of the standard front crawl, it is slower but I believed it would get me the distance so it didn’t matter too much.

Around 4 months to go before the WTS Leeds, I entered my first GO TRI event which also took part in Leeds. This gave me a better understanding of what I had signed up for. After this I signed up for a few more GO TRI events and signed up for a 10-mile trail race called Bluebell 10 which was around the steep hills of Halifax. The GO TRI events went without a problem but on my 9th mile on the Bluebell race, I fell into a pothole and hurt my leg. I managed to limp to the finish line and straight into the St Johns ambulance tent. That evening I ended up in A&E with my leg in a cast and crutches by my side. I was in a state of shock because I was meant to be competing in a triathlon in 6 weeks’ time. Doctors didn’t know whether it was fractured or I had ligament damage. Luckily with another trip to the fracture clinic, I found out that it wasn’t fractured but my ankle had ligament damage which can take a while to heal.

I managed to complete a GO TRI 3 week later even though my ankle was weaker than before. I managed to make it around unscathed and started to believe that I would be able to make it to the start line at Leeds. I knew injury had ruined my training program but I wanted to make it even for the experience alone.

I was successful in making it to the event and was experiencing a mixture of emotions ranging from excitement to nerves. The race itself went better than I anticipated considering the injury aspect. I knew from the beginning of my training that swimming was never going to be my strongest discipline but I managed to do well since I had never swam in a wetsuit before. I came out of the swim around the 22nd position mark. The run to the bike transition was long but got second in my splits.  As it was raining the bike course became more difficult but I made good progress overtaking people along the way. The bike had taken it out of me but I knew running was my strongest discipline. When I crossed the line a whole host of emotions overcame me and I was proud. The wet weather didn’t ruin anyone’s spirits on the day.

Following on from Leeds I have continued to train with more running races and GO TRI events coming first and second in them. I am hoping to continue my triathlon journey into 2018 and am hoping to compete in WTS Leeds again but changing to a standard race instead of a sprint and maybe even compete in a half IRONMAN.

I wouldn’t be where I was today if it wasn’t for GO TRI. The support I have had from the events and online has been fantastic and I am competing in a few more events until the end of the year.

My advice that I would give to inspiring triathletes is Give it a Tri and Enjoy the journey.”

To register your place now at Leeds visit: leeds.triathlon.org

To become a British Triathlon member CLICK HERE or to search for your nearest GO TRI event CLICK HERE