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– By Matt Clemens –

Triathlon isn’t classified as an extreme sport – after all it’s just swimming, running and cycling… taken to extreme. To make it to the top, or even to the finish line, you have to give a lot. But according to the triathletes we talked to, you get even more in return.

Mind you, the people you’re about to meet, are not superheroes, nor are they professional athletes. What they have in common is that they all decided to push a little bit harder and go a bit further in their casual fitness training. To get there, they signed up for triathlon training at Phuket’s Thanyapura Sports and Leisure Club. See where it got them.

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Kanchana Dejyuvaves, age 38, IT project manager
“Triathlon made me an achiever”

When and why did you get into Triathlon?
I’ve been into running for quite a while, but I wanted to do something more. Initially I thought of taking up Triathlon in 2014 but at that time, I could not swim. Having learned and practiced swimming for a while, I registered for my first Olympic distance at the beginning of 2015.

What was the toughest moment of your life as a triathlete?
During a long cycling training session for my first IRONMAN 70.3, I had an accident and ended up having stiches on my arm and my mouth. What’s worse, I could not do any training for two weeks. Eventually, I decided to race, even though my body was not 100% healed. But my bad luck wasn’t over. On the morning of the race, I had a flat tire. I replaced it and went for a quick test ride, and my second tire burst! I replaced it again, placed the bike on a rack, and run down to the start line with just 10 minutes left to go. I got maybe 20 meters away from the bike when I hear a loud bang! I turned back to check my bike and found that a tire burst again! I changed the tire for the third time that day and sprinted to the swim start, not knowing if the tire would still be inflated when I got back. I’ve done all the training, I went all the way and in the end, I didn’t even know if I would be able to start.

What keeps you going?
I enjoy seeing myself getting better at swimming and cycling. Also, triathlon is an activity through which I meet new people. And when it’s time to race, I think about all the hard training I’ve done and believe I can do it.

Finish the sentence “I love Triathlon because…”
“…It’s fun and gives me a great feeling of achievement.”

Does Triathlon positively affect other areas of your life and how?I get a great satisfaction out of being able to influence other people; people who may have not previously considered take up this sport. I see many of my friends taking up triathlon and I’m happy we can train together.

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Erin Fischer, age 33, yoga instructor.
“Triathlon redefines the impossible”

When and why did you get into Triathlon?
I didn’t really “start triathlon” on purpose. My boyfriend is a coach of this sport and when I moved to Thailand with him, I discovered how much fun bike rides are. So he got me a bike and I started riding.

Also working at Thanyapura, right next to a 50 meters pool, reminded me how I used to swim during the summers when I was a kid. So I started that too, and before I knew it, I was also adding some running. And there you go – triathlon training!

What was the toughest moment of your life as a triathlete?
It was the first time I attempted to cycle up one of Phuket’s hills. I was practically crying, because I was out of breath and scared I would fall off the bike. Those hills are no joke, but my coach (and boyfriend) told me to turn around, try again, and not to give up. Changing that mindset really is what makes the difference. So a week later, I took up that challenge again, and this time I just kept pedaling and got through the whole course. Of course, now I’m told we will do the whole thing twice next time, but I am ready to give it all I have!

What keeps you going?
The challenge of training, and the small but significant improvements I make. Getting stronger each day, week and month gives me a feeling of strength that I really like. I am racing for the first time soon, and that has been a good goal to work towards, even though racing is not my main focus. I also love the supportive, driven people you meet in this sport. The encouragement all triathletes give to each other is awesome!

Finish the sentence “I love Triathlon because…”
“…It pushes me to do things I never thought I was capable of doing. It constantly redefines my definition of what is possible.”

Does Triathlon positively affect other areas of your life and how?
Triathlon is a long-term sport, the goals are very far out when you start and it can take years to develop the fitness necessary to go longer distances. That has helped me improve my patience, my ability to plan long term, and dedication to a distant goal. Also, it has also been a humbling experience to be a beginner. And last but not least, I learned to wake up much earlier, which I love because sunrises in Phuket are incredible!

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Tim Ford, age 30, law student
“Triathlon gave me more than I’ve ever imagined”

1. When and why did you get into Triathlon?
I did my first triathlon in 2010, after a friend of mine signed me up for it, as a birthday gift. At that time, I weighed over 120kgs and the race took me 4:05 to complete. I came dead last. It was humiliating but exhilarating as well. I became inspired to improve my performance; I wanted to go faster. In 2012 I raced another standard distance race as well as my first 70.3 triathlon. Ever since then, I have been hooked. I have since completed 16 70.3’s, including my first age group win last year at Challenge Phuket.

2. What was the toughest moment?
Starting was the toughest moment. I never realized how big I was or how much of a limiting factor my weight was. Losing the weight was the hardest thing I have ever done. Ever since then, I think the main struggle is to maintain consistency in training. I am not happy to just give it a go. I want to constantly improve, to be the best triathlete I can be.

3. What keeps you going?
While I started triathlon to try and get in shape, the sport has become so much more to me now. I really believe that triathlon gave me back my life; it changed my life so much that I cannot believe the things that I am able to accomplish. Today, I am motivated by the desire to beat my own self. While the trophies and accolades are nice, the only true measure of success I have, is against myself. Maybe that focus will change, but at the moment I just want to go faster than I did yesterday. Obviously the health benefits are a big motivator too. I am very scared of going back to how I used to be. I never want to be overweight again. It is one of the things that get me out the door, even on the days I just want to sit on the couch and watch TV.

4. Finish the sentence “I love Triathlon because…”
“…It has opened my life to people and experiences I would never have imagined. I have now raced all over the world and I’m able to call some of the best athletes in the sport my friends. If you told me in 2010 that I would be racing around the world and winning races, I would probably have laughed at you.”

Does Triathlon positively affect other areas of your life and how?
Absolutely. Apart from the fact that I have lost 50kgs by racing and training for triathlon, I have made some of my best friends through the sport. It has helped my self-esteem. I used to be humiliated if I had to take my shirt off and now I run around in skin tight lycra! It has made me a more patient person too. Nothing in triathlon comes easy. It always comes down to consistent, hard work. There are no short cuts and I now take the same approach to life.

For more information about triathlon training at Thanyapura visit thanyapura.com

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