Steven Carragher’s triathlon journey began back in 2006, nine years before he took up Age Group racing, at an event hosted by his local triathlon club.
He explained: “A friend I worked and played rugby with was getting into triathlon and in the week before a race he asked me if I wanted one of the places that came available due to someone dropping out.
“The night before the race I went to the pool to see if I could swim 500m continuously. I only had a rusty old mountain bike, so the bike leg was amongst the slowest overall. The swim and run were reasonable but with no training, they were not exactly quick.
“I don’t remember getting into triathlon straight after this but a few years later my children were learning to swim so we spent more time at the pool. Fiona, my wife, and I would swim for fitness whilst the kids were in the lanes alongside. I did a bit of competitive swimming growing up, so it came relatively easily.”
He continued to take part in the sport and got involved with his local club, Alnwick Tri, and in 2015 it was suggested he have a go at qualifying for the Great Britain Age-Group. At the second time of asking he was able to qualify for the team.
“One of the club coaches suggested I try some age group racing so a group of us from Alnwick Tri had a go at qualifying,” he said.
“I remember the first qualifier I went to being huge and intimidating and I think I missed out there but managed to get a qualification at the next one in Nottingham.
“Lisbon ETU Triathlon European Championships was my first go at Age Group international racing and really enjoyed the whole event but didn’t really trouble the top guys, finishing in 16th.
“The following year I went to the World Sprint Championships in Rotterdam and my training partner Andrew Wilde qualified for the same age group. The race was brilliant, with Andrew and I working together on the bike leg, and I was elated with a Top-10 finish. I think seeing that improvements were coming with consistent training inspired me to see how far I could get in triathlon.”
His consistent training continued to bring about improvements and last year at the Europe Triathlon Aquathlon Championships Bilbao-Bizkaia he achieved his first major championship win. He quickly followed that up with another European Championship win earlier this year in Madrid.
He said: “The next few years I competed each year at Euro or Worlds and consistently managed top 10, but it took a tricky swim at the aquathlon in Bilbao before I managed to get my first win.
“The Madrid sprint triathlon this year ended up as a duathlon and I got caught up in a crash on the bike, so I was amazed to win that one. It’s a great feeling being on the start line with amazing athletes some who raced at elite level, and I love the adrenaline that racing brings.”
After two European titles, it was Caragher’s time to take that form onto the world stage and at the World Triathlon Championships Pontevedra he did just that in the super sprint race.
“The super sprint at Pontevedra this year was definitely playing to my strengths as it was flat out from start to finish,” he explained.
“It was the hardest I’ve ever raced, even though it was less than 25 minutes, and when I crossed the line, I had no idea how I had done. It was about 30 minutes after the race once I met up with Fiona and my friends that we realised I had won. It’s a strange feeling of elation at having achieved your goal yet life carries on and I was back to work Monday morning.”
Click here to learn more about Age Group racing.