The ETU Multisport European Championships Festival will make its debut in Ibiza from 20-27 October
Following the lead at ITU World Championship level, the ETU will hold its debut Multisport European Championships Festival featuring a range of disciplines over the next week. Medals will be decided in Duathlon (Sprint and Standard Distance), Middle Distance Triathlon, Aquabike, Cross Triathlon, Cross Duathlon and Aquathlon.
The Great Britain Age-Group team will be present in large numbers as always, and one of the athletes racing, Mike Griffin, is no stranger to these events – though normally, it’s as one of the Team Managers.
Mike Griffin, British Age-Group Triathlete
When and how did you first get involved in triathlon?
I did my first triathlon at the River Fowey in Cornwall as a bit of a bet, 20 years ago. I wore a baggy short wetsuit, was second to last out of the swim - easy to find my bike! - I was sick on the bike having swallowed half the river… and was hooked from then on.
You’ve raced the ITU Cross Triathlon World Champs for the last three years – and XTERRA in Maui I believe – is the off-road aspect something relatively new for you?
I began off-road triathlon three years ago having got a bit stale on the road. I like the battle with nature that XTERRA courses are infamous for. The XTERRA final in Maui was a typical example with a big surf swim; steamy hot muddy bike and a 10km run of which 6 km was uphill without a break. You have to use your brain so much more during the bike and run phases and the multiple changes in pace during a race seem to suit me more as an athlete.
In Ibiza you’ll be racing the Cross Duathlon. Did you consider trying to double up with the Cross Triathlon as well?
I would have considered it, however I am nursing a fractured finger, which means I can only swim with paddles on… someone is bound to complain!
You’ve also been an Age-Group Team Manager in recent years. How did that start, and which events have you been to in that role?
I started as an AG Manager for the ETU Standard about 10 years ago, having seen an advert on the British Triathlon site. Having been involved in triathlon for some years in events and racing, I felt I could offer something to athletes and put a bit back into the sport as a volunteer.
I moved to the ITU Sprint role five years ago. I’ve been lucky enough since to travel to the ITU Grand Finals in New Zealand, Mexico, USA, Canada and our home one in London.
What is involved in that role, because I imagine there is a vast amount of work that most people never get to see?
There is a lot of finicky Excel spreadsheet work and answering athlete questions during the qualifications phases. It then slows up until the lead up to the Grand Finals, where a lot of liaison takes place with the LOC (local organisers), to ensure we get as much useful information for the travelling athletes. We then provide a series of newsletters and answer a lot more questions.
When we are at the event I would best describe the role as a manager/coach/travel rep/agony aunt/mechanic and panic reduction consultant.
My colleague, Ian Kitchen, and myself have developed a very useful relationship with the Technical Delegates who oversee the event, which allows us to get on-the-spot information and decisions to pass on.
What’s easier – racing, or being a Team Manager?
Racing, every time!
You also act at a Volunteer and Coach – fair to say that this sport is fully embedded in your life now?
In the last two years I’ve gone into partnership in a small triathlon coaching business concentrating on one-to-one coaching and training holidays. This has really taken off and triathlon now accounts for most of my working year in one guise or another.
I was lucky enough to be involved in many of the larger triathlon event delivery too, from the 2012 Olympics through to this years’ European Championship in Glasgow. This means I am pretty much able to look at events from every angle and that certainly helps my team manager role.
Do you know much about the course you will be racing on in Ibiza?
Only what the kind people have posted on the course that are out there already. It doesn’t look too technical and will be dry, so I am preparing for a fast hard race! The bike choice is always a dilemma, however I am going for full suspension for the Duathlon.
How is your fitness and form with just a week or so to go now – preparation gone well?
I’ve just returned from a good week of training in Mallorca in the heat and at present I’m feeling as ready as I can be. My last few sessions indicate my form is very good and where I would want it to be. As with most people you question what you have and haven’t done, but the training has been focused purely with this event in mind so I’m hoping to do it justice.
Having experienced many of these events now as athlete / manager / organiser, any advice you would give to athletes perhaps heading to their first international event?
Read the entire event guide slowly and carefully. Attend the athlete briefing and use that time to clear up any issues. The Facebook pages set up are very useful to share information and ask more experienced athletes questions. Don’t fret over what you cannot control, weather etc. Prepare for every eventuality. Plan your race and race your plan.
Finally, what words encouragement would you give to athletes considering qualifying for and racing in the Great Britain Age-Group team?
It’s not as difficult as you think. You need to carefully look at the qualifiers and race the courses that perhaps you can perform better on. Unless you are very confident enter two qualifiers so you have a back-up. If you study the finish times of athletes in your AG and think it’s achievable then give it a go. It’s a very friendly community with loads of people willing to give advice. The AG pages on the BTF website are a very useful source of information. When you pull on the GB trisuit for the first time it’s quite a special moment and that feeling does not diminish.