Having never been a sporty person but simply someone who liked to be active, Nick Clarke was recommended triathlon by someone at work and he hasn’t looked back.
“I’m not a sporty person but have always enjoyed getting out and about,” Clarke said. “Growing up I wasn’t interested in football but loved being active. When I went to university I started going to the gym and swimming and cycling recreationally to keep fit.”
Having graduated and started a family, Clarke’s wife took up running and entered a marathon for charity and, with his wife’s support, Clarke followed suit.
“I started running and took part in a few 5k and 10k races,” he commented. “When I turned 40 I gave myself a year to run a marathon and loved the race but hated the monotony of the training.”
It was at this point someone at work, who was also part of a running club, recommended he take part in triathlon because of the mix of disciplines.
“I entered the sprint triathlon that her club run and borrowed someone’s bike to do it on,” Clarke added. “I crossed the line and for me, that was it. Triathlon was the thing for me.
“I’m not at the sharp end of the sport, but do it as a competent, recreational triathlete. I’m an enthusiastic amateur who has a passion for the sport. I know what I’m capable of and push myself to improve rather than measuring myself on positions.”
It was this drive to push himself that saw Clarke register to qualify for the Great Britain Age-Group Team during 2020 having been able to take part in the Cowman Duathlon in October last year.
“I was fortunate enough to be able to take part in the race, and even managed to win the 50-59 age category,” he said. “It was at this point that a friend recommended I put my name in for qualification for the Age-Group Team for the Europe Triathlon Middle Distance Duathlon in Alsdorf, Germany.
“I submitted my time and which event it had been at and received a reply to say that I’d qualified for the team. I was so excited to get in but also a bit daunted that I would now be racing for the GB Team.”
Each year, British Triathlon allocate qualifiers for World Triathlon and Europe Triathlon sprint and standard distance championships for triathlon and duathlon, with British Triathlon Home Nation members also able to submit times to qualify for longer distance and other multisport championships.
“I’d never seen myself as being capable of qualifying for the team,” Clarke commented. “Whenever I’d raced in sprint or standard distance qualifiers, I’d always found myself further down than if it was just a ‘normal’ race.
“Taking part in a longer distance race has given me the opportunity to compete in an event and submit a time which has seen me qualify for the first time. There’s a bit of luck because of the reduced number of events and people taking part in 2020, but I’m delighted to be in the team and be able to represent the country.
“This is the pinnacle for me because I can wear the GBR kit and race for Britain. It also impressed my kids too. They aren’t really interested in triathlon, but they even looked up from their phones when I told them I had qualified. High praise, indeed!
“From not being a sporty kid, to now ordering my Age-Group Team kit is amazing and I’m looking forward to the event with a mixture of excitement and nerves.”
Clarke is hoping that the race in Germany won’t be his last for the Age-Group Team. He is going to make the most of the opportunity and experience by raising money for Huntington’s Disease Association. You can learn more about the charity on their website here.
To find out more about following in Clarke’s footsteps and qualifying to race in the Great Britain Age-Group Team, click on the button below where you can read about qualifying races and criteria in 2021.