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A big family: Mel Hayes on representing Great Britain in the Age-Group Team

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Mel Hayes is a triathlon coach and has raced as part of the Great Britain Age-Group Team at a number of events, becoming World Long Distance Duathlon champion in her age group in 2017.

“I got into multisport in 2013 when a friend who had done a few triathlons persuaded me to give it a go. I came to it from a running background. I started running in my early 30s when my kids were little as a way of keeping fit and had done a few half and full marathons by the time I was 40,” Hayes said.

“I hadn’t ridden a bike since I was a teenager and could not swim front crawl. My idea of swimming was doing breaststroke with my head out of the water. So, I started having swimming lessons and got myself a second-hand road bike. Learning to swim properly has been one of my greatest achievements, although it is still my weakest of the three disciplines, and I still continue to have lessons.”

Hayes first took part in triathlon at the Wilmslow Sprint Triathlon in the south of Manchester, saying: “I remember clearly being petrified that I wouldn’t manage to swim the 400m in the pool. I felt like most people I guess after finishing their first triathlon, absolutely elated that I had done it.

“My first open water triathlon was the ladies-only Deva Devas Sprint Triathlon in Chester and to my surprise I won my age group. From that day on I just loved everything about triathlon, the friendly events, the fact that it put me completely outside my comfort zone, the new skills I acquired and the people it has led me to meet.”

Hayes, who has been asked to become team coordinator at the Middle Distance Duathlon World Championships in Viborg, has run her own triathlon workshops and virtual events, coaches at her local triathlon club and is a joint owner of a successful triathlon coaching company.

“It has led to a complete career change as I went on to take my triathlon coaching qualifications and now work as a coach for Manchester Triathlon Club and run a triathlon coaching company with Kate Offord called Smiling Tri Coach.

“My business partner won Virtual Coach of the Year, but if you read the interview she did for British Triathlon, [https://www.britishtriathlon.org/north-west/news/virtual-coach-of-the-year_14637] you will see that she thinks this should have been a joint award with myself because everything we achieved, we achieved together.”

Hayes has represented Great Britain in European Championships at middle distance and long distance triathlon and has competed twice at the World Long Distance Duathlon Championships, saying: “I became World Long Distance Duathlon Age-Group champion in 2017, won my age group at IRONMAN Wales 2018, qualified for the IRONMAN World Championships in Kona 2019 and came 2nd in my age group at Challenge Roth in 2019.

“I have loved the opportunities that Age-Group racing has given me to travel and visit places I might not have gone to. I love the camaraderie that you get being part of the GB team and the many wonderful people I have met along the way and have become friends.”

Reflecting on her experiences of pulling on the Great Britain trisuit, Hayes said: “I have had so many wonderful experiences. You never forget your first race and the excitement you feel representing your country. Mine was the European Middle Distance Championships in 2014 in Mallorca. Anyone who did this race will remember how hot it was.

“I will always have a special place in my heart of course for when I came world champion in Switzerland in 2017 on what is highly regarded as the hardest duathlon course in the world.”

She heralded the kinship experienced amongst fellow athletes traveling to events to compete, saying: “Feeling part of a big family, the team spirit, the opportunities to travel to some amazing countries.

“I guess one of the things I love about racing for GB is that when you race as an individual at non-GB races it’s only your supporters that cheer you on, but when you race for GB everyone who has come to support GB cheers you on whether you know them or not. It makes you feel very special.”

The Great Britain Age-Group Team offers all Home Nation members a unique opportunity to compete at World and European Championships across a variety of multisport disciplines. To find out more about how you can represent Great Britain in the Age-Group Team, click the button below.

 

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