From side line to start line…almost


Having cheered her husband on in Age-Group racing, Rachael Fairclough made it her goal to race for the team after giving birth to their son.

Racing for the Great Britain Age-Group Team provides British Triathlon Home Nation members with the opportunity to challenge themselves against other top British athletes in their age category to qualify for the team, but also against those from across Europe and around the world at Europe Triathlon and World Triathlon Championships.

Each year, British Triathlon coordinate a series of qualifier races and criteria to enable members with the opportunity to qualify for the team, with Fairclough having qualified at one of these events in 2020.

“I’d sporadically taken part in triathlon before my husband raced in Rotterdam in 2017,” Fairclough said. “I was primarily a runner but enjoyed taking part in all three disciplines, although I relied heavily on the run to get me a decent time.

“Peter had been trying to qualifying for about a year so I knew all about the Age-Group Team, but once we were out in the Netherlands I realised just how good an opportunity it would be to try and race as part of it with all the countries coming together and the amazing event atmosphere.”

Being part of the Great Britain Age-Group Team enables British Triathlon Home Nation members to try and qualify to represent the country in a variety of multisports and over a variety of distances at events around the world.

“I’d decided that I would try and qualify myself, however life got in the way,” Fairclough commented. “I broke my leg so couldn’t run for three months before working my way back to fitness and then we had our son.

“I’m part of a tri club and there are a number of amazing mums and ladies who take part and race for the Age-Group Team, so thought that if they can do it then so can I.

“After giving birth to Sam, I wanted to focus on building my running fitness and strength up and being at home with him meant that I also had chance to jump on the turbo and get cycling again.”

Having built up her fitness, Fairclough’s dream to race for the Age-Group Team was reawakened and her and Peter tag-teamed to allow them both to train.

“Whether it was running with the pushchair, putting a seat on the back of our bikes or taking it turns to look after Sam at the pool, we worked as a team to enable us both to train and make sure Sam was looked after,” she added.

“When lockdown hit I started to take part in a few virtual duathlons and other virtual challenges and really tried to take the opportunities that were on offer, including to explore what was local to us.

“Swimming in open water with friends through the summer months gave me the chance to swim which was great as so many people haven’t had the chance to with many pools not reopening.”

Having been able to swim, bike and run in 2020, Fairclough and a friend entered the Shropshire Sprint Triathlon in September with a surprising result.

“We both managed to use the times we’d achieved to qualify for the Age-Group Team,” she said. “To my amazement I won my age group and finished as third fastest female overall.

“This was my friend’s first triathlon event and my first one since having Sam, so we were both quite nervous but delighted with the result and qualifying for the team for the first time together.

“I think this shows that with a bit of support from your family and friends that just because you’ve had a child or you work doesn’t mean you can’t achieve things in the background. It may take a little bit longer but you can get there if you focus on it.”

To find out more about 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.


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