The Kerfoot family are set to compete as a complete four in Targu Mures, Romania at the ETU Multisport European Championships
Neil a GP in Bristol, Michelle a primary school teaching assistant and their sons Tom and Steve could well be the first entire family to compete for the Great Britain Age-Group team at the same championships, but where did it all start out?
Neil Kerfoot: "In 2008, when we were both 40, my wife, Michelle, and I did a relay triathlon at Eton Dorney with a cyclist friend of ours. I was a regular swimmer and my wife belonged to a road running club (Bitton Road Runners) where some of the other members also did triathlons, which gave us the idea for a relay. We had a great day as a family and really enjoyed the whole triathlon atmosphere.
Over the next 4 years I took up competing in triathlons as an individual, whilst Michelle continued to compete successfully as a veteran runner. During this time both our boys, Tom and Steve, who were already keen runners and strong swimmers, joined a junior triathlon club (Bristol and District triathlon club) and I started coaching the junior athletes. I am now one of the lead coaches and have a level 2 British Triathlon qualification.
In 2012, after numerous injuries caused by running and subsequently spending a lot of time on a turbo trainer or in a pool, Michelle decided to learn to swim front crawl and give triathlon a go. From that point onwards triathlon was the main sport done by all members of the family. We now swim together twice a week with Kingswood Tri Club and our local Leisure Centre (Aspects Leisure) allows us complimentary gym and swim as members of a GB team which helps financially, and we are very grateful for this. The boys train together at their athletics club (Bristol and West athletics club) and where possible we cycle together outdoors at the weekends or on turbo trainers in the garage. We usually get to compete together as well, at least at the same location, so it enables us to spend a lot of time together as a family.
Often our family holidays are basically warm weather training and this has led to some special moments - cycling in the volcanic surroundings of Fuerteventura, swimming as a family across bays in Menorca and discovering the hills of Tuscany on rented mountain bikes. These are few of the memories we will all treasure.
At a local level we found that we were quite successful, often making the podium, so Michelle and I decided to give age-group qualification a try. We both went to the 2014 ITU World Duathlon Championships in Pontevedra, which our boys came to watch and decided they would like to be part of the age-group scene too when they were old enough.
So in 2017 our eldest son, Tom joined us in Soria for the European Duathlon Championships and last summer the three of us took part in the World Aquathlon Championships in Fyn, Denmark. Our youngest son, Steve is now old enough to compete and having all qualified for the 2019 World Aquathlon Championships in Pontevedra we had to postpone competing together due to our eldest, Tom, having medical school exams. Luckily we have also all qualified for the 2019 ETU European Aquathlon Championships in Romania, so are competing all together at the same event in our GB trisuits as we hoped. It gives Michelle and I a great sense of achievement to compete in the Great Britain Age-Group team, and it will make us extremely proud to watch both our boys do the same.
Now that Tom and Steve can both compete in adult events we have been able to compete together in team relays. Highlights have been competing as a foursome in the team sprint relay event at the Cotswold water park in September last year, where we all wore our team GB trisuits, and being trounced by our children at the Chilly Duathlon team relay in Castle Combe, where they came 2nd overall.
As we approach the championships in early July we wonder if we might be the first entire family (mum, dad and all children) to have earned the honour of age-group representation!"