Adam Wells – Triathlete of the Year 2016 – Male
I guess I need to start at the beginning c.1997 I was heavily into mountain biking but a serious accident on Exmoor (airlifted out) meant I was laid up for a few months, when I was finally able to do anything, swimming it was. As all weight bearing activities were out. Had swum loads as a kid but a damaged ear drum meant I had given up in my early teens. So I started again doing breast stroke only, there I met a couple of triathletes who invited me out road biking (they even loaned me a bike) and that was the start of the slippery descent into the murky world of triathlon! 2 piece trisuits including ‘budgie smugglers’ were de-rigour!
Think I did my first race in about 1999 a pool based sprint and I was hooked, joined a club (Somerset RC) and that was that, progressed to open water in 2000/2001 and did my first standard distance event which was the best thing ever. Then saw the world of age-group racing so attempted to qualify for the worlds in Queenstown New Zealand in 2003, these were the days of 10 slots per 10 year age group so competition was tight! I qualified, but had an awful race. Had over trained and was really poorly and subsequently only raced once in 2004. Managed to get well and started again, previously I was a monster biker and could easily do sub 1 hour for 25 miles but then couldn’t run very well. However, being unwell had helpfully made me loose weight, I wasn’t as fast on the bike but could get off and run like a whippet. 5km PB is 15:58, 10km is 33:40. The change made me good at really technical (hilly) races, I won Bath in 2005 and then other events followed – I was good at this!
However, the arrival of a family in 2006 slowed me down (no racing) meant that I was out of race shape, also an interaction with a lorry in early 2007 also didn’t do me any favours (I don’t recommend bouncing off the front of one) I got back to serious training in mid 2007 and managed 3rd in Bath.
2008 was ok, still had some issues following the accident, but keeping fit helped. The escape from work and family that training provided was a great tonic, racing well is sort of the icing on the cake. 2009 was an all or nothing season as child number 2 was due in November. So, went all out 13 races and 9 podiums with 3 wins. However, this level of commitment takes its toll on those around you, it is selfish! So why keep going? It is addictive.
I’m driven to push myself I relish the pain of the training, the feeling of achievement, I’m lucky I have a desk job so the most strenuous thing I do is pick up the phone (or my coffee cup). I love the feeling of being physically tired the ache in your muscles. After nearly 20 seasons, over 100 races and nearly 50 top 3 finishes, why keep going? What have I got to prove?
Unfortunately, the selfish focus has cost me dearly, I’m now divorced and only see my boys every other week. Training keeps me occupied, and stops my mind dwelling on them. I’m possibly more driven to succeed now than ever before, I know I’m not a fast enough swimmer for draft legal racing so have taken the decision to step up to middle distance it is more of a challenge especially considering the commitments I have. So, what next? more of the same? I think so, I’m ok at sprint racing and great at standard distance but, want to have a good go at middle distance – I want to get it right! I’m more able to pace myself now as I’m older and am definitely mentally stronger.
I guess some of you want to know the secret, well I actually don’t train that much (honestly…) This year I’ll do about 180km of swimming, 4000km of biking and 1200km of running, this equates to about 6 hours a week. My job means I get to run in some amazing locations, 2 years ago I ran in Benin (on the equator) and Kristiansund (on the edge of the arctic circle) in the same week.
Basically, I do it because I love it, the camaraderie at events is fantastic, the different abilities is amazing, we all had to start our journey somewhere. I remember racing in St.Ives, Cornwall (it was a brutal course, 220 stated it was the hardest event in the UK) plus held on a scorching hot day and coming 2nd or 3rd (I prefer a straight race to the line) it was a mass start event at 8am I finished in 2:25 or something. We went for a drink and lunch in a pub, there was a chap who was still going at 1pm – I think this is more impressive than anything I have achieved in my triathlon career, the mental strength and will power to keep going when everyone else has finished is amazing, he got a bigger cheer than the winner, this is the ethos of triathlon, so taking part is everything.
Thanks for the award, I know I’m not an active club member but like the sense of belonging.