The second ITU Multisport World Championships Festival will take place in Fyn, Denmark from 6-14 July 2018.
The event includes the World Championship events for Duathlon (Sprint and Standard), Cross Triathlon, Aquathlon, Aquabike and Long Distance Triathlon, giving athletes the opportunity to race at several championship events during their visit.
One of the British Age-Group athletes that will be racing in multiple events is Gill Fullen. Gill has been a regular and very successful member of the British team since 2011 and is a previous winner of the British Triathlon Female Age-Group Athlete of the Year award. In Fyn will be looking to defend her title in the Duathlon World Championships (50-54) and then a week later take on the Long Distance World Championships too.
We spoke to Gill about her passion for racing for Great Britain and why Denmark has become almost a second home for her in 2018.
Gill Fullen, British Age-Group Triathlete
You’ve raced in the Great Britain Age-Group team every year since 2011. What keeps you coming back for more?
I love it. What can I say?! I get ridiculously nervous before races, to the point where I spend way more time in the portaloos than warming up, but standing on the start line with other athletes from all around the world with that nervous anticipation fizzing off everyone is both terrifying and utterly addictive. I have made friends from all over the world by racing for team GB and I love that we can be rivals one minute, busting a gut to get ahead of each other and best friends the next. My main Danish rival and I got on so well in Vejle that we're meeting up in Fyn to go out, but you know the minute the claxon sounds we'll be at war!
Looking at your results, you’ve taken part in the last six Duathlon World Championships and won five Gold and one Silver medal. What do you enjoy about the run-bike-run discipline?
Duathlon was a natural progression, as swimming has always been my weakest discipline in tri. To put a run either side of a bike ride is heaven for me. It always seems so uncomplicated too, without all the extra kit needed for the swim. Trainers, tick. Bike and helmet, tick. Ready! It used to be a select clique of rebel duathletes, generally masterfully led by Jez Cox, knowing our discipline was way tougher than tri and yet so undervalued. Now to get on the GB duathlon team is just as hard as getting a place on the tri team, so the sport has grown beyond measure and is finally starting to receive the recognition it deserves.
You are scheduled to race both the Duathlon and the Long Distance Triathlon in Fyn. How do you plan to balance recovery / training over that week to be ready for both?
That's a question for my coach, Perry Agass. When I asked whether I could do both races I was fully expecting him to say no, but he must believe that I can do both, so I will work on that assumption too. I'm notoriously bad at rest and recovery, but I am trying desperately to be more accepting of it and learn the value of taking time out. I'm sure it will be an active recovery for the most part anyway, to keep my body moving before the long distance tri.
Having raced twice already in Denmark this year, including winning the IRONMAN 70.3 European Championship recently in Elsinore, what made you decide to race so often in Denmark this year!
It wasn't a conscious decision to race so much in Denmark, it just happens to be where all the championships are being held this year: Powerman European champs, ETU, ITU Multisport Festival and IM 70.3 European champs are all there in 2018 for some reason.
I was meant to do a different Ironman, but when that was cancelled, the only one which fit in with my schedule, turned out to be Copenhagen, hence, yet another return to Denmark in August. I have so enjoyed my trips so far, as the country is far more scenic than I had realised, the people are generally very welcoming, the food is great and so far the weather has been fabulous. What's not to like?
You had a serious illness and surgery in late 2016/17; do you feel like you are back to full strength after that very tough period in your life?
Yes. The only long-term issue I have had to deal with has been to alter my swim stroke to cope with nerve damage and other problems caused by the surgery. Other than that I have no excuses! Once again I have my coach to thank for bringing me back to training and racing in a very structured way, which has resulted in me being fitter and stronger than before.
We know you really enjoy racing – what have you got planned for the rest of 2018 after the ITU Multisport World Championships Festival?
Quite often I really don't enjoy racing. I'm certainly no Lucy Gossage, with a permanent smile on my face and enough enthusiasm for the whole world! When it's really hard work I just shut down and dig in to get to the finish. Having said that, crossing the finish line is usually pretty amazing, especially if it has been a tough battle to get there. This year is all about the Ironman World Championships in Kona.
Finally, what words of advice and encouragement would you give to athletes considering qualifying for and racing in the Great Britain Age-Group team?
Do it! There is simply nothing better than being part of the GB team at an international event. The friendship, camaraderie, atmosphere and sheer excitement are second to none. Believe in yourself and you are giving yourself the best shot you can of qualifying.
Keep trying; if you give up it certainly won't happen. When you do secure your coveted place, please let yourself enjoy the experience. Those new to GB racing can get so stressed by the pressure they heap on themselves that they make really daft mistakes or are too wound up to get the most out of the trip. It's just another race so treat it like one and chill.