, , ,

The Value of Sport

Sport, what a fantastic concept.

A group of people getting together to have fun, make friends, and push each other in a supportive, like-minded environment.

For many people sport and exercise are a massive part of the weekly ritual. Forgetting about the busy schedule and having some fun for an hour or 2 a week have been proven time of time again to be beneficial.

Even since the time of the greeks philosophers such as Plato have stressed the value of exercise, healthy body healthy mind right. And making a few friends in the process, win win!

But what really is the value of sport?

£3 a week for a single class?
£7.50 a week for the gym?
£20 for cheap shorts & a gym top
£40 for a race entry?
£70 for running shoes?
£100 a year for a membership to an association?
£250 for a wetsuit?
£400 for a long race?
£2000 for a bike?
£5000 for a bike?

When does it end? Granted these are triathlon related costs, but rowing would cost me £300/400 a year comfortably before kit, and many are associated with high level sport, but even my parents have £400 bikes and regularly spend money on badminton courts, rackets, shuttlecocks, general equipment to be used with friends.
And it all stacks up. An average cost of almost £1000 a year for cycling,ci know people that could eat for quest with that. It’s no surprise that British sport estimate it would cost £2.7 billion a year to pay the volunteers that aid sport throughout the UK.

How do people afford it? Where does the money come from? Having just paid £700 to fly to Oklahoma for World Championships, £400 for Europeans and another £400 on the way for long distance Europeans in July, the money just seems to be none stop. And if you’re like most people my age, already in debt of over £30,000 to the government, these costs are crippling.

Ironman is reeling in £450 for each entrant to a race, £225 for halves. With consistent fields of over 2,000 participants, and run by volunteers we’re looking at almost £1,000,000 for subsidised nutrition, the winners purse, trophies and course related assistance. Doesn’t strike me as costing almost 1 million? With a field of 2,500 like Nice we’re comfortably over that margin.

Plus the bike and kit companies making an average of comfortably £2000 per competitor, yearly with the amount of gear floating around.

So what really is the value of sport?

The psychological and physiological benefits of weekly sport for 3 hours a week can be monumental. Taken from 2012 statistics, sports admissions, leisure class fees and equipment hire cost the average household £6.70 per week. Coming out at just shy of £350 a year. A small price to pay to have fun with your friends some might say? In comparison to rent, a car, food, it almost seems negligible. A small price to pay.

However it’s no secret that high level sportsman can be required to pay up to £500 for race entries regularly. And training races, for example marathons and half marathons aren’t exactly cheap at £40 a pop.

And is there an alternative? Probably not, sport will never be free, materials used will always cost money, things break, people get injured and need assistance, and I can’t propose any form of alternative. Although is it worth the thousands we spend a year, working hard to fund races we spend the rest of our lives working for. Lining the pockets of the organisers and staff involved. For the 4 hours Bath half is on for, it generates a turnover of roughly £600,000. And it’s not even a big race!

For young and upcoming athletes without grants, scholarships or sponsors costs can be up to £10,000 a year for travel, races, accommodation, kit. And parents/guardians are expecting to come up with this sum of money to support their children. Everyone knows every parents hates disappointing their child, and should a parent ever feel responsible for hindering or limiting their children’s sporting promise?

Let’s hope the sports and grant system holds strong!

, ,

“I am an Ironman” – Self Confidence 

“Believe in yourself”

“Follow your dreams”

“You can do anything you want to do”

Some of the most cliché phrases on the market. But how much truth is there in it? As I’ve said time and time again, I’m a big believer that hard work gets results, but just how far does self confidence go?

I’ve personally watched both males and females push themselves far beyond their believed physical limits just by telling themselves they can. We regularly watch things in the news whereby people break limits others impose on them, and in interviews they just reply ‘I told myself I’d do it, so I will’.

On a more relatable scale, personal achievements in the past can fuel your future. It was only yesterday that ex GB rower Pete Robinson, a friend of mine, pulled a personal best on the rowing ergometer. No big feat you might think, but after disk issues in his back 3 years ago ruling him out for what he was told would be life, he believed he could come back stronger, so has.

Run a 10k, a half or a marathon, cycle 50 miles, do an ironman – full or half, and it will change your life.

Now let me explain why.

“I am an Ironman”

Great, we’ve all done stuff. Yes yes I know, but these words alone carry massive momentum.

It’s a phrase I hear my best friend Alex Lightfoot (pictured right) use quite often. And rightly so. He’s swam 3.8k, cycled 180k and run a marathon in the 31 degree French heat. Back to back.

The 6’5, 100kg beast now most often seen curled up in front of the tv with a bowl of coco pops is now over 6 months out of training, a man that should have no fitness, yet still whips up to uni on his bike the odd day, and runs rings round people training for bath half.

Well how? Is he just ‘naturally athletic’? Well yes possibly, but at least 70% of it is in his mind.

He doesn’t let people beat him because he’s completed an ironman. He’s reached a level far beyond the average person, and will never let himself give up.

It’s regularly said that over half of sport takes place in your head, I’m a firm believer in this. If you’ve accomplished something in the past, why wouldn’t you be able to do it again? What’s stopping you?

So train hard first time, and you’ll never regret it.

Believe and you will succeed.

Go get ’em.


Too Pro to Say Hello.

Let’s just get ourselves started by saying you’re never too pro, to say hello. It’s just not a status that can be achieved. Nobody was born pro, nobody woke up one morning and was suddenly worlds best. Everybody has to work hard to get there.

In the world of cycling there are many different forms, road cycling, time trialling, mountain biking, a Sunday family ride, a quick mooch on the hybrid.

What separates the different kinds?

Not a lot really!

They like riding a bike, you like riding a bike. So why aren’t we all just being friends? Maybe it’s the north shining through, whereby anyone you encounter from commuter, mountain biker, road racer, they’ll all share a smile or a wave. Stop to say hi if needs be.

Strangers chat on trains, say hi on buses. Can you imagine talking to the person opposite you on the tube? They’d look at you like you shot their sister. Why are you talking to them, you’re not their friend. You don’t know them.
But do you need to? I’ve cycled past the odd pro in my time, obviously going different ways, and one thing is the same, they all acknowledge you. Whether it be a smile, nodd, wave, hello. They’re humble and know you exist.

So who are these people that are a cut above the rest?

Surely ignoring else returning a greeting is just basic common manners. You wouldn’t turn down a handshake because you for some unknown reason thought someone was beneath you.

I can understand if you’re time trialling, head down, work on, suck up, tuck up and shut up. I know the drill, but even our chaingang manage a little wave!

So next time you’re out for a run, ride, or something similar. Lift your head sligtly, say hi to the cyclist opposite or passing you.

You never know who you might meet!


World Champs – “But it’s only Age Group”

I’m very excited with the news that despite missing out on Kona this year by 90 seconds, I’ll be able to race a world championships anyway. An opportunity that will only boost my racing character and add invaluable world championship experience. A different time zone, different weather and the classic hotel accommodation will all be experiences helping me get used to big races in the future.

Qualifying for long distance World’s in Oklahoma with my time in Wales and middle distance from my Cotswold Classic time. A 4:20 half and a top 100 finish in Wales made for a comfortable qualification, with a lot of work to do this year.

Qualifying through the British Triathlon system is an interesting one, you have to be within 115% of the winning AG time to qualify. An easy feat some might say, however if this is the case, why isn’t everyone racing for GB?

One of the most common phrases in amateur triathlon. They’re a GB athlete… yeah but ‘it’s only age group’. But unless you’re in the Olympic team, there are no other GB teams outside of age group.

Oh… Yeah.

Hadn’t thought of that had you?

Well for a start any stash with the words GBR followed by your surname should never ever be turned down. Ever. And secondly, to qualify for Kona you don’t have to be too far off the times achieved for an age-group athlete going to ITU’s.

Granted it doesn’t hold the same prestige as Kona, or the same prize money, but even the elite triathletes race ITU and Challenge events for race experience, prize money and to keep the sponsors happy. Having just attained sponsors for 2016 that will be helping me through my path to World and European championships this summer I am already starting to feel the heat.

4 months off with injury and no heavy training on the cards any time soon it’s a struggle to see myself in any form for the coming season. Although that doesn’t matter, because it’s only age group right?

Although there is no team outside of age group for long or middle distance, thus making it impossible to represent the country in other ways at these events? Jan Frodeno the world champion doesn’t race for Germany, he represents Canyon, Aspics, 2xu and his other sponsors. So this is the perfect stepping stone for gaining sponsorship, experiencing races and keeping the dream alive.

So how is it possible to be anything other than ‘only age group’ if you want to represent your country?

It’s not!

I will also be racing for sponsors, and luckily my sponsors will be helping me with the financial side of racing, but is it not everyones dream to represent their country in some way? And unless you’re an olympic athlete, this is rather hard to do, especially for those of us who are made for them slow twitch gains.

Personally holding the dream of one day holding a pro card, I’m not too worried about the stepping stones to bigger things. Being able to cycle 240km at over 33kph, being able to run a half marathon sub 1:23, and slowly but surely getting there in the pool, I’d thoroughly enjoy a race with any amateur turning their noses up at age group athletes, however even if you’re .01% under that cut off, and take one of the last team spots, take the chance, buy the kit, do yourself proud.