In 2017 the Army won all three team awards, both veteran individual awards and the fastest male officer award. The Male Team Captain, Major Edd Charlton-Weedy, spoke to us about competing in the championship.
How many triathlons have you competed in?
I’ve honestly lost count, but over 15 years of racing I’m confident the number is in triple digits.
Why do you enjoy competing in triathlons?
There is a great ‘sense of occasion’ that triathlon competitions represent. The spectacle of the sport was one of the compelling reasons for it to be introduced into the Olympics for 2000. It makes it an exciting event for competitors and spectators alike.
There is also so much diversity in the sport, such as different terrains, locations and distances. It allows you to keep pursuing a variety of challenges, within the same sport without getting bored. This is probably why I have enjoyed it for so long.
What makes a triathlon tough?
The training for three different disciplines (swim, bike and run) is intimidating for most people, especially trying to find the time around busy jobs and families. But these different options also give you a lot of freedom and variety in how you train.
In terms of the Army races the real challenge is going fast in each of the disciplines. There is rarely a chance to get comfortable as before you know it you are essentially thrown into a different sport and expected to continue going fast. Beginners will find this quite peculiar but the more you compete, the more you can judge your efforts and push your limits, which is the most rewarding part.
What is your training programme?
Whether for better or worse my single days of 20 hour training weeks are behind me, and now my training is all about fitting around family and work. That said, it is still an important part of my lifestyle, which my family support but I make sure they are involved.
I try to make the training as social as possible: swimming three times a week with a local swim club; biking with friends three times a week and typically running every day. There are a lot of early starts for the swimming and cycling, but the running is easier to integrate into my daily commute, and weekly park runs with family and friends.
What advice would you give to someone competing in a triathlon?
- Seek advice: the Army Triathlon Association run training weekends (last weekend Nov, Jan, Feb and Mar) in Aldershot, for all abilities. Here we teach the basics and provide a fantastic forum to share knowledge on the sport. Alternatively, local clubs are always friendly and great training environments.
- Don’t worry about the equipment: kit will rarely make you go that much faster but people believe that it is ‘free speed’, this can be misleading, not to mention expensive. Riding your bicycle more will make you much faster and stronger than changing the wheels.
- Maintain balance: triathlon can be addictive and the requirement to train can put undue pressure on yourself. For some people their aim will just to be do an Ironman in a year and then stop, others will be hoping to continue the sport for a couple of years. Both journeys put pressure on your time, family and friends so make sure you keep a healthy perspective on your commitment and ensure you are enjoying yourself.
What makes the OA Inter-Services Triathlon challenging?
Individually it is a very competitive field. Any one of the top 20 could expect to win a medium to large sized civilian triathlon on any given weekend, and so competition is fierce. There are one or two superstars who have come and gone over the years, and it is always a real challenge to race against them.
More importantly for me now is the team race. Ensuring that we have the best 12 Army senior men at the start line has been the result of a years’ worth of communication, training and racing. All the team are keen to prove that they deserved their selection, and will want to show that out on the course. We have invested in the younger triathletes in the Army team in recent years, and I hope to continue finding new volunteers and talent to help beat the RAF and Navy in the years to come.
What is your sporting ambition?
Through luck both good and bad I have achieved everything I wanted within triathlon. Although winning the OA Inter-Services Triathlon, and podiuming five times, has been a highlight.
This year an injury has curtailed most of my preparation, and so I will go into the race with a realistic expectation of what I can achieve. I have therefore focused my energies on preparing the team. It would be great if we could win as a team again.
About the OA Inter-Services Triathlon
This year the triathlon is organised by the Royal Navy Triathlon Association, and sponsored by the OA. Teams from the Royal Navy, Army and RAF, as well as guest teams from the Fire, Police and Prison services, will compete on Wednesday 25th July. To celebrate the 30th anniversary of the championship, there will be the ‘Legends Championship’, a special veteran category, in addition to the usual groupings.
The OA sponsors the OA Inter-Services Triathlon to celebrate the high levels of physical fitness, mental determination and self-discipline that competing requires. These are qualities that will support Service leavers when they make a successful transition into civilian life.