A whole new world opened for me when I retired in 2005. I had always been a runner but could I do something more- triathlons or even an Ironman?  My swimming background was 2 lengths maximum before being exhausted and my only bike was a MTB.

Fortunately with Brough Park pool being so close I started to up my training regime, going 5 days a week during the winter months and with some guidance I managed to up the distance and eventually I could do 1500metres before feeling I was sinking.

In May 2006 I did my first triathlon at Southwell . This was my first real learning experience and it was a steep one. In running races all you need is a pair of trainers and you can jump out of the car and go off running. In triathlons you need swimming goggles, wetsuit ( for an open water swim), bike has to be to be racked somewhere near the pool, helmet and running shoes which tested my organisation. Also at this first one I assumed you need a towel to dry down after the swim and socks to put on before you put on your cycle shoes. It was not a startling success. Now I was an expert I moved up to Olympic Triathlons ( 1500 metre swim, 40 km bike and 10 km run)the first one was in July 2006 in Bath. You then realise the next issue to overcome is  that i although the race starts at 7 am in the morning you have to be there at least an hour beforehand to get all your gear in the right place, ie early starts are the norm.

I continued to refine my technique over the next year. Initially because I came from a running background I would make up time on the final section of the race with the run. However I was beginning to have trouble with my knees, so decided to go to the doctors and he told me to give up all sport and just “ play crown green bowls and a little golf”. This did not go down to well in my head. So I set off to the gym and did a lot of swimming, spinning and biking. I then found that if I was reasonably sensible, which sometimes was quite difficult, my knees allowed me to still run without too much pain. I was now back on track for the Ironman?? In 2009 I did the Beaver Half Ironman in 6hours 20 minutes, which I was quite pleased with, although was pilloried by a SMAC  triathlete for having a cup of coffee after getting out of swim, but I was cold!! As I finished they were giving out the prizes for the various age groups which I did concern me at the time until I got home when I looked at the results and found I was the first in my age group. However this was another learning experience in that I decided I was not committed/dedicated/ mentally strong enough or something to do an Ironman.

I continued to do local triathlons over the next couple of years and if they had my age group category I would come 1st or 2nd from a small number of people ie 3 or 4. In 2012 I decided to go to the National Sprint Triathlon Championships at Milton Keynes, really just to see how good I was at this level. I did well enough to be selected for GBR at the World Championships in New Zealand. This was a whole new ball game and expense, fortunately I got the support from SMAC and Staffordshire Moorlands Council and a son living in New Zealand. I flew out on a plane, full of quality athletes, all refusing any alcohol provided by the air stewards, but eating all the food provided. I came 4th in the aquathon (swim and run) and 7th in the sprint triathlon and the first Brit ( there were 6 other Brits in the event before you think there were no others) which I was ecstatic with. There was certainly some Brits who did not come out because of the cost, but” you have to be in it to win it”.

John 1


That was the highlight of the year, but on the return flight from NZ , with drunken triathletes this time, I picked up a bug which developed into pneumonia. The comment from the hospital was that “ you could have died from that if you left it much longer”. After they had drained my right lung and I was back to some level of health in February, I went swimming and managed 25 metres before the lifeguard asked whether I wanted rescuing because I looked so bad, it seemed a long way back to full fitness. Because of performance in New Zealand the previous year I was preselected for the World Championships in London the following September. It was a lot to do in a relatively short period of time but was not quite as successful finishing well down the field, I had not really recovered from the pneumonia.

During the next three years the World Championships were held in the Americas and it seemed a long way to go for four days. In September2017 it was in Rotterdam, which seemed much closer to home,  there would be a good turnout of Americans, Europeans and British who generally are the best triathletes in the world. I qualified at Eton Dorney and then went on a triathlon training camp to the Dordogne with Newcastle Tri Club, where I spent a lot of time working on my swimming technique. This proved very important in Rotterdam where I did my quickest swim time of the year and I was fresher for the bike and run, finishing 4th Brit and 12th in the world. In some ways I feel this was better than my result in New Zealand because all the top guys were there or just because I was 5 years older and am still fortunate to be able to do it, along with the rest of the 70-74 year olds.

John 2

There is still room for improvement over the next few years.

John Broadbent