The Triathlon – swim, run, cycle!

Preparing for a triathlon - team ridingChristian Coates (he’s the one taking the photo in the image to the left), a CTP Operator here at Dennis Maps, has already told us about his unusual hobby of collecting trig points, and how cycling to work led to a passion for road cycling.  He also takes his love of sports much further by competing in triathlon events, the fastest growing sport in the UK. Here he shares his experience of triathlons:

First of all, Christian, what does a triathlon consist of?

A swimmer, a runner and a cyclist were arguing about who needed the most stamina to compete in their chosen sport. So it was decided that they should combine all three, and that’s how the triathlon was born.

As the name suggests, it consists of three events, swimming, running and cycling, along with a fourth discipline, the transition between each of the three events. Depending on the type of triathlon, Sprint, Olympic, Half Iron or Ironman, it takes place over different distances, and takes from just over one to more than 17 hours to complete.

The swim is between 400 metres and 2.4 miles, the run from 3 to 26.2 miles, and the cycle ride from 16 to 112 miles. For the Olympic sport the distances are 1500 metres, 6.2 miles and 25 miles respectively. The stroke used for the swimming event is the front crawl, and this is the most challenging part.

Does it cost much to get started?

When you’re just starting out, you don’t need to spend too much. You’ll need a swimming costume or trunks, shorts and t-shirts, some trainers, and a bike and a helmet.

You do need to pay to enter events, though, and that can cost a fair bit. A full Ironman entry is £550, but local events only cost £30 or 40 to enter, and club membership is usually about £40 a month.

How do you build up to events?

The triathlon - swimming sectionMy first triathlon was in Midsomer Norton eleven years ago, when I didn’t even have my own bike! I borrowed a friend’s bike to do some training, but whilst training I got hit by a car. Despite that, I was hooked. I love the feeling afterwards when I know I’ve done well!

For a local novice, there isn’t really too much prep. You need to be able to swim, of course. Most people can cycle and if you’re not a good runner, you can walk some of the course.

It took me eight solid months of training to progress to Ironman. I would cycle 80 miles in an afternoon, run 10 miles later that evening, and swim 10k a week. I did suffer a bit though. I had dehydration for days, huge blisters on my feet, and terrible cramp on the inside of my ankles.

I wanted to complete the event in 14 hours, and actually completed it in 14.03 hours, so it was an amazing accomplishment.

I forgot my race shoes for one event, so I ran and cycled in my trainers. I ripped the trainers and my feet to shreds, but I did still manage to finish the event. The mental aspect is so important – you have to believe that you can do it.

Any advice or warnings for anyone thinking of embarking on training for a triathlon?

My advice would be to join a local club. It’s a solitary sport, so a club offers friendship and support. You will learn so much from other members.

Competing in triathlons can make you a better person, mentally and physically, but don’t put too much pressure on yourself and don’t get depressed by how long it takes to become good. With regards to your training schedule, the motto is Don’t Cram – Must Plan. Don’t put yourself in danger by pushing too hard.

What else would you like to achieve?

Dennis Maps staff members completing first Triathlon - Lewis Walker (Print Supervisor) and Simon Marks (Map Finisher)

I now have started my Level 2 Coaching Diploma, which should be completed by May 2020, so I’m very proud to now be able to help train the next generation of triathletes on a one to one basis.

My colleagues Lewis Walker (Print Supervisor) and Simon Marks (Map Finisher) completed their first local event in August, and Dennis Maps are sponsoring the Frome Triathlon Club Junior Section.

Maybe I will do another Ironman event when my children are a bit older. My ambition is to compete is the Lanzarote event, which is the toughest in the world. I would love to do that one day.


Dennis Maps is one of the leading map printers in the world, producing more than two million maps and charts every year. We offer comprehensive pre-press services, large format print solutions using both large format litho printing and large format digital print technologies, plus specialised map folding and map finishing techniques.

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