Craig Dale’s triathlon journey began almost 20-years-ago as he took part in an aquathlon as a 15-year-old alongside his mum, who had recently got involved in the sport.
He explained: “I have probably been involved for a bit longer than most age groupers. I started about 20 years ago. I initially entered an aquathlon event with my mum who had taken up triathlon. I started racing when I was around 15/16 and have been involved in it most of my life on and off since then.
“I was always good at swimming growing up and I got a taste for triathlon. I like the challenge that the three events give and I always felt limited in where I got to in my swimming career. I like the fact you can put the work in and get better at one or two sports at a time.”
Fast forward almost 20 years later and he is ending his season as super sprint world champion after victory in Pontevedra just last month.
“It was a crazy experience doing such a short event, it was a fast and furious race. I had no idea where I was in the race because of the rolling starts. So, you just had to race flat out to the line and find out the result afterwards, which for me was a win by 15 seconds, so I am glad I went flat out to the line.
“It was a whirlwind afterwards as well with prize giving and doping control. I went from a 5pm race to having my dinner at 10:30pm. It was a crazy flurry of an evening.
“Initially you cross the line, not knowing anything about it and then you find out afterwards. I remember bringing the results up on my phone and refreshing it a few times and double checking to confirm it first, then going to the medal ceremony and getting my name called out. It went really fast with timings of the day. It probably wasn’t untill the next day I digested it a bit.”
Dale’s Pontevedra experience also included watching the elite athletes in action, and he got himself a prime position to see Beth Potter claim her world title.
“It’s always a great part of these events to see the pros racing and for me being Scottish it was great to see Beth Potter take the win,” he said. “I was standing on the course near the final bend as she was winning it.
“It was great, knowing I’d raced on the same course and been part of the same event. It enhances the event not just for us, seeing the whole pro set up and being part of that but also for the pros benefiting from us being there and supporting them.”
And that support is not just for the elite athletes. According to Dale it’s something that happens at all levels of the sport and is why he urges people to give swim, bike, run a go.
He said: “I think triathlon is one of the most varied and accepting sports, in that anyone can come and give it a try. There are very few sports that have an Age Group and amateur structure like triathlon. At any given triathlon there can be a significant portion of the field that are beginners. And everyone is always willing to share advice and tips. You’re always learning, even the amount of time I have been involved in triathlon I still make mistakes. There’s no rules and laws like other sports, you can turn up with any bike, pair of shoes or goggles and get started.”
To learn more about Age-Group racing click here.