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My change in approach to racing

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Every time reigning British Aquathlon Champion Joel Enoch starts a race, he looks up to the heavens and thanks God for granting him the opportunity to compete. This inspires his efforts – but it wasn’t always that way. 

The 42-year-old soared to victory in the 40-44 category at both the World and British Championships last year, clinching gold after a period where he had significantly altered his approach to competition.  

There are eight British Championships in 2024 that cover various multisport disciplines and distances, with British Triathlon Core and Ultimate members eligible to become British champion. See when this year’s championships are here: https://www.britishtriathlon.org/british-championships.  

"The thing that helped me win that British and World titles was stopping caring as much," he says. 

"I had pushed for years to prove something, to try to be ‘good enough’. But after a very tough few years personally, I no longer saw the need to try to justify myself through my performance or results at events.  

“There was no need to batter myself day in and day out to prove my worth, instead I wanted to be grateful, fulfilled with whatever came and satisfied with my best efforts on any given day.  

"I’d come to a point in life where I needed my sport to have more meaning, to be more fulfilling and therefore sustainable and enjoyable, so started to aim for that and be ok with whatever came as a result.  

“All of 2023 had been a very high-pressure year in my coaching role with British Cycling and I was completely shattered when British Champs came round.”  

Enoch had a poor swim at Hever Castle during the British Championships and was trailing the leaders before a strong transition propelled him onto a decent run - and ultimately the victory. 

“Once, that swim would have bothered me,” Enoch continued. “I’d travelled a long way to know I was swimming badly, to not be able to correct it and see the fastest swimmers pull away. 

“Whereas previously I might have panicked, I let it go, relaxed and was thankful for each, cold, tired, rubbish stroke – ‘what’s the point of beating yourself up and hating the moment?’ I’d stood in the water at the start, looked up to the heavens and said: 'thank you for this, I'm going to love every part of it as much as I can.' So I did”   

"I’ve always had good transitions, so as it was long, I had a plan to execute this as well as I could, and this gave me the fastest time of the day and as a result I made up a lot of time on those in front.   

“Another thing I’ve realised is that I can’t do anything about how fast other people are in a race, so the run was about executing a good pacing strategy on a lumpy off-road course and enjoying dashing through nature – I used the surroundings to distract from the effort and it all felt quite easy really.” 

"It was a rare chance that my family could come and see me race as well, so that was an extra element that I could enjoy. 

“I didn’t expect to cross the line first and I didn’t try to. I raced with the aim of thanking God for my life and the opportunity to race by performing to the best of my ability – that was my definition of winning."  

Split into five-year age categories for individual non-para races, British champions pre-qualify for the following year’s World and European Championships, whilst the Paraduathlon and Paratriathlon Championships also form part of the British Triathlon Paratri Super Series.  

As well as the domestic title, Enoch also won the World title in Ibiza last May – a race and result that is a world away from the 2004 British University Triathlon Championships where his multisport story began. 

From there he entered the world of Age-Group racing and competed across all three disciples of triathlon until 2018, but a shift in perspective following the birth of his daughter and a lack of enjoyment for cycling led to his introduction to aquathlon - a sport he has since fallen in love with.  

"I remember an ex-professional cyclist I was working with at the time said to me: cycle for long enough and you'll learn to love it'," he said. "But I never really did love it to the degree I needed to do to compete.  

"It then got to the point where I was married, bought a house and had our daughter, and I just remember thinking that cycling took up a lot of time and I didn't have the bravery to go fast around corners anymore.  

"I wondered what would happen if I just swam and ran, which I enjoy more. I was instantly in love with aquathlon. Doing triathlon had become like trying to wrestle a square peg in a round hole, but the simplicity and accessibility of aquathlon was immediately the right fit for me.” 

You can find out more about the 2024 British Triathlon Aquathlon Championships and British Triathlon membership to be eligible to compete through the buttons below.  

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