Triathlon England Club of the Year 2022
What makes our club special?
Here we feature just a few of our incredible members and have them tell us a little bit about themselves and their thoughts on our club.
Please read on (yes, all the way to the bottom!) as they may offer you some inciteful tips and inspire you to train today!
Angie’s been a member or our club since 2020. She’s the Captain for the Sharks Super League Team and is always a friendly face and effervescent character at our training sessions and events.
Angie joined us with a background in running. She has been a runner for over 30 years. Before joining our Club, she competed for Watford Harriers track athletics and cross-country team. Currently, she trains in each of the 3 triathlon disciplines 3 times a week and competes Standard & Sprint Distance Triathlons and Aqua-bike. This year  Angie was able to don the GB kit and represent her country at the European Triathlon Championships in Poland where she came an excellent fourth. Give Angie a big cheer when she receives her chocolate medal at this year’s club awards ceremony!
The people! The support from members is outstanding, everyone has great advice and helpful tips for any query or question you might have and the encouragement from the coaches makes you want to go to training no matter how bad your day has been!
Because the club really is the number 1 club around. You cannot beat this club on support, advice, training or encouragement, it truly is outstanding.
Anyone who is looking to take up triathlon. At any level you can be elite or a complete novice but the club caters for all abilities and makes everyone feel part of the team.
I was delighted but above all super proud! To be able to tell people I’m part of Hillingdon Triathletes, “The club of the year” really makes you feel smiley inside and out.
I developed a Hamstring injury and couldn’t run; my husband was a fairly new member at the time and said I could try swimming and biking until the injury healed. Along with him and some close friends they recommended Hillingdon for its supportive coaches and friendly members.
The coaches! Dave Wardle encouraged me to have a try at the evening cycling time trials and Michael Donovan and Caroline Whittaker encouraged me to give the Wednesday night swim training sessions a go. I discovered quickly that I felt very natural on the bike and wanted to keep going to improve on this.
I love being outside and pushing myself to achieve new targets and goals.
The Bournemouth Aqua-bike! I’ve never been a good swimmer and it doesn’t come naturally to me at all. I was scared of putting my face into the water but all the amazing advice and support from the coaches and the team members of Hilly made me sign up and give it a go. I not only survived but ticked a huge fear factor off of my list!
Achieving a goal! It doesn’t matter what the goal is, if you set your mind to it and achieve it that’s success
To compete next year in my first Worlds champs Aqua-bike and to complete a Half Ironman in the future.
Always believe in yourself and never give up (my dad!).
Resting is just as important as training!
Duathlon – Run, Bike, Run my 2 favourites disciplines. The Hilly camaraderie, support, organising and encouragement from all the other members when you take part in these events just make it the best in the triathlon calendar.
Natalie also joined our Club with a running background and pedigree. Both her parents and her grandfather were members of running clubs, consequently she was going to events in a pushchair before she could even walk. At 18 months old she completed my first baby race 1 mile!
Natalie officially started training when she joined Watford Harriers at the age of 6. She decided early on that distance running and cross county was her thing. That said, she was introduced to our Club by a friend, tried Triathlon, met people at our club, and hasn’t looked back since.
Natalie’s had an exceptionally successful year. At the pinnacle, one single day in August she got a first in her Masters Physiotherapy Dissertation and her bike 10-mile TT PB. Natalie’s currently recovering from an operation on her foot but she’ll be back in action very soon and working on beating her own PB’s again.
This is a challenging one, as there are many things in my opinion.
The dedication and time the committee members and coaches put in behind the scenes. Most of their work goes unnoticed but enables the club to run to such a good standard.
Also going back to the camaraderie of the club this shows as our members are increasingly growing and retaining with the club finding it hard but enjoyable promoting healthy living in and around the Hillingdon area.
Us winning the club of the year has been great for the members already but has also helped the local community become inspired to lead an active healthy lifestyle.
I would recommend any of my friends, I’m 28 years old. I would also recommend all my family members. That’s the thing with Hillingdon they are able to cater for all ages and abilities with no one left out or feeling that they are not good enough. If someone is interested in trying triathlon training my advice would be get down and give it ago.
It made me feel proud that I am part of one of the best clubs in the UK. But more over this reward was for the coaches, committee members and other individuals that give up their spare time to help the club run as without them there would be no training sessions or no club. It shows that what we as a club are doing is working and we continuously need to keep up that momentum into the next season and use this win as a way to progress the club further while keeping the camaraderie and fun at the forefront.
Before joining the club, I had just returned from university mainly I was competing in athletics and cross county but was suffering from a lot of injuries. My dad had moved from athletics to triathlon with him being my role model I thought I could give it a try.
No, I don’t, I believe 3 is enough, but I do try and incorporate Pilates and yoga into my week. I believe these aid functional strengthening to upper and lower limb joints to support the body when swimming, cycling, and running.
I met a friend down the pool in Watford and she recommended trying it and I have never looked back. From that I introduced it to my dad.
For us the reason we have stayed is the exceptionally run club events. Also, the camaraderie we have at the club I personally see Hillingdon triathletes as an extended part of my family. This was proven when I had an injury and nearly every member of the club messaged me to make sure I was okay. At the time it meant to world to me knowing support was everywhere.
In sport and in many aspects of my life my dad is my role model. I took up athletics because I saw him and my Grandad competing. While I was away at university, dad needed an operation on his knees to remove all cartilage from too much running. This led him to try triathlon. I went to watch his first race with ATW at Hatfield, and I decided from that I wanted to give it ago.
I was still a long distance running so running was my best discipline.
Yes, I do compete. This year has been a little challenging as I have been awaiting ankle surgery, but I managed x2 full sprint triathlons x2 aquathlons, The club relays, 10-mile TTs (all of them).
When fit I try and fit a session in every day and aim for 10 sessions a week. These will differ from swimming, road cycling, indoor biking, running. Gym work. Pilates.
At a young age I would have to say family but now it is defiantly intrinsic within me. I want to be the best I can be and pushing your body hard to the max is enjoyable. Moreover, I also use sport as my stress relief form work. I firmly believe that if I didn’t compete and train the way I do I would be a completely different person.
I have a few I am proud of competing in a track 5k at BUCS nationals, I wasn’t the fastest and had girls lapping me, but I concentrated on my own race and got a PB 19:15.
Another I am proud of my performance at the age group world triathlon championships 20—24 finishing in the top 15.
I use the time trials in the summer to measure the level of fitness I am at. When I was younger, I got caught up with measuring success against someone else’s. This tactic did not work and could have been quite damaging. As such now I go off my previous times or places and compare them and hopefully look for improvement.
Now my operation has been done I would love to be able to run properly again and get back into the British age group team.
Aim towards a few national medals at aquathlon
Get back under 20 minutes for 5k after a swim and a bike in a triathlon race.
Hit the 10-mile TTs next year again and aim for PB’S.
More importantly I want to keep enjoying what I do and loving the club I am a part of.
When ill, injured, or run down listen to your body missing that one run or that one bike sessions isn’t going to make a difference, but a full illness or injury will take much longer. Don’t train harder train smarter.
Try and enjoy it. The more you enjoy it, the more likely you are to come back and turn it into a habit.
Listen to your body if you feel a niggle during a session stop – it’s not a race it’s not worth the risk. Training is all about listening to your body and acting on it. Racing is 100% about not listening to your body and getting around as quick as you can”
The ability not to get injured and stamina.
Eton Dorney Club Champs and National Triathlon Relays. Summer BBQ and Xmas party.
Kenny joined our club in October 2022. He’s always been involved in sport but all his currently activities revolve around Triathlon. He trains 6 days a week, takes part in club events and has also signed up to the Met Cross Country League.
Kenny completed the Barcelona Ironman this year and beat his target time by nearly two hours – Wow!
The Club makes you feel so welcome. Everyone is there to help. They challenge you to be better. It genuinely feels like it is a part of my family!
The club is selfless in what it does for those that are its members. They go above and beyond any club I have ever been a part of in any sports, and the volunteers are endless as it has a created a community environment where everyone can be involved, including the families of the members.
Multiple of my friends have joined after I have. Being a member of this club has made me a better athlete and pushed me to places I didn’t think possible.
I have been honoured and privileged to represent this club, especially as club of the year and proudly tell everyone I can.
I was an experienced runner and okay cyclist but had to work on my swimming as it was very poor.
It was local and kept bumping into “Hillies” at Park Run and got to know some of them. They always spoke highly of the club and encouraged me to join.
I was looking for a new challenge beyond running and saw triathlon as an opportunity to do this. I had done a couple of Olympic distance triathlons before joining (the club) and wanted a network to learn from to complete an Ironman.
My mental health is a big factor in my physical training.
Ironman Barcelona 2022. I trained for 12 months, made many sacrifices and when it got to race day it was the most amazing experience.
My training and support from the club made it amazing to the point where I beat my target time by nearly two hours!
Success for me is about the original and tangible goal that I set. Ironman was about completion, but there are other events where I want to race people around me.
Success for me is also about how I can inspire others to want to achieve things that I do. I have helped several friends this year run marathons for the first time through my own belief that anything is possible with the right mind set and dedication.
I want to break the 4 hour mark in a marathon, and then push on to compete a 100 mile ultra-marathon by the end of 2023.
Never say something is impossible. Surround yourself with the right people and they will bring the best out in you.
Consistency is key.
I’m 36 and still dream of being a professional footballer
Vivian has been a club member since the spring of 2021. She attends many clubs training sessions and won Most Improved Female Swimmer at the club’s 2021 awards ceremony. Vivian is the leader or The Scorpions Super League Team and regularly volunteers and competes for our club.
Since becoming a club member, she’s not only completed her first Triathlon but she’s also been inspired to do Ride London and the Virtual London Marathon and is now chasing the London Classics Medal!
I heard Viv be called the “most fiercely competitive individual I know”, and her determination to is something to behold. Go Viv!
It’s very organised. Lots of events are provided for members - every day there is something. It supports its members to be better and stronger athletes.
The club accommodates different levels and abilities. Its members, coaches, and volunteers put a lot of effort in.
I was a beginner when I first joined the club. I was a bit scared, but there are different sessions and coaches for different abilities; not just for the elite. My swimming improved so much. One day, hopefully, I’ll be swimming in lane 8! [the lane for the fastest swimmers]. The running groups are set up the same i.e., to accommodate different abilities - one can even start with walking. The club is helping a lot of people improve.
Whoever is keen to do sport. I’ve encouraged friends and my sister to join - the last time she swam was 27 years ago. Because I was inspired, I encouraged her.
[Vivian’s husband and sons have also become members of the club since Vivian joined]
It makes me feel proud. I wear the club kit. I was wearing a club sweat shirt and a guy asked me about it – it felt good.
The committee make a lot of effort to continue improving the club and to acknowledge participation. e.g. free club t-shirts and the variety prizes not just for winning but also for entering an event.
I didn’t mean to, but I saw Sarah’s [Club Coach] run session taking place on the fields. It looked structured and the right level and it was just “meant to be”.
Swimming. I love being in the water and have made a lot of improvement. I like running as well.
To prove to myself that I can do it. To prove to myself I still have it.
I was determined to be able to do a Triathlon. My best was the Hertfordshire triathlon, my first one this year.
To be nervous not scared and to finish it - The mentally to try and to finish it.
I am hoping to do a Half Ironman. Maybe next year.
Enjoy it and don’t worry about it.
Don’t give up! Just keeping going!
I started swimming sessions in the 50m pool, I didn’t want to come again but I tried again in the 25m pool. ……. And went on to win most improved swimmer, loving Aquathons and want to do a Half Ironman!
To be able to run faster.
Aquathons. Because I really like swimming in the lake. It’s not easy, I still find it hard, but I enjoy it.
Martin started his Triathlon career in 1985. After leaving school and having been a runner for over 10 years, he tried triathlon and has stuck with it on and off since then. In the early years he was competing with, and against, several of our long serving members, including Dave, one of our Club founders. [there’s a vintage photo of a few of them Facebook]
After one of his breaks from the sport, Martin re-joined in 2018. He trains 5 to 8 times a week and competes in Sprints distance events as his running is limited to shorter distances. Now, in my late 50s, it is the swim which he favours.
As well as training with, and competing for, the club he also volunteers as Vice Chairman, Event Organiser, Health & Safety Officer and a Coach.
The wide variety of people and abilities.
The chance to meet likeminded people that want to enjoy and take part in sport. There are activities going on several times a week and so there’s no chance of getting bored.
Meeting new people every month.
I also get to work with some really driven people behind the scenes.
After many Tri Clubs came out of Covid, the participation in events declined and membership also struggled. As a Club we took the opportunity to reshape the club and how we organised ourselves. On a Tues eve there was only the one run group pre Covid, which due to the standard put many club members off attending that session. Post Covid we split groups up so there were 4 groups ranging from power walkers, through to steady runners and on to intermediate and the faster group. We introduced a Fri morning run group as we realised more people were working from home and more flexibly. These changes mentioned along with others, increased our membership by about 100 over a 12-month period. We also organised more social events as that is what the members asked for. Putting all this together meant we had a community of likeminded people all getting involved in swim, bike and run events.
Anyone from complete beginner to those more experienced. We as a Club cater for all abilities and all aspirations. It is friendly and welcoming. We do not prejudge people.
It was recognition that as a Club we were getting things right. A lot of time and effort are put into running the club and trying new ideas – sustainable medals & trophies / an in-house competition (Super League), training sessions at different venues and times, as examples. It allowed us to be proud of what we had achieved and showed us that Triathlon England believed we had got things right and needed to be recognised for that.
To keep fit and active. Also, to see how I get on against others in my age group.
I broke 2 minutes for the 800m when I was at school so that probably rates as my standout performance.
Mainly in 2 ways. One is against others in my age group. The second is to remember those in my age group and competing are probably less than 5% of the population. So, measured against the average person in their 50s I am doing very well. I also measure on occasions against the younger members who I may beat over say a Sprint tri.
To be able to take part and compete to a reasonable standard within my age group. To be selected for the GB Age Group Team on occasions.
There will be bad days and good days. Sometimes the bad ones have no reason behind them – things just do not go well. Take it on the chin and move on. One bad race does not make you a bad athlete.
Do not overtrain. Do not leave everything in the training sessions and turn up to race tired. It is hard to taper sometimes but needs to be done.
Be able to run properly again like I did when I was in my 20s. If not, I would like to be able to use my legs in the swim like a proper trained swimmer.
Currently the Club Aqua-bike Champs as there is no running involved.
Jacqui is our Club Chair. Not only does she lead its committee members and steer the club, but also personally manages the club kit, participates as club training sessions and helps out wherever she can. In fact, you’ll often see her making the tea as the Duathlons before heading out to compete!
Jacqui’s strength of character and determination are not immediately evident, but her success at ultra-running events bring this to the fore!
Jacqui and Martin, along with the Club Committee, have steered our Club through the challenges of Covid and put us in the enviable position of being one of the leading UK Triathlon Clubs. They have engendered an inclusive and supportive culture, updated policies and procedures to ensure continued health & safety and financial stability and all whilst co-ordinating fantastic coaching & training sessions and club events. Leading, of course, to our Club gaining recognition by Triathlon England via several awards, the most prestigious being Club of the Year 2022.
It's so friendly and supportive to all members whether you are a complete novice or training for Ironman. The club encourages families to get involved and also offers family membership discounts. A large number of coaches and members give up their free time to coach and plan all club’s races and events.
After the lifting of lockdown, the club and committee members ensured all the procedures were in place, to allow the members to start back training in a safe environment, ensuring all the guidelines were followed.
The membership has grown pre covid from 240 to now 355, with more female members joining. In addition, 50% of the committee and coaching team are females.
We hold over 30 races per year. That is more than any other club within the London region. The support from our volunteers in setting up and marshalling the events is outstanding.
As we have grown our club by over 100 members within the last 12 months, I would be happy to concentrate on retention of our existing members. Still helping the established members as well as the new members wishing to improve their journey in Swim, Bike, Run.
I always enjoyed sports at school, then continued to participate when I started work. Then I started to enter half & full marathons, followed by small triathlons, which then grew to becoming bigger races. I was already a triathlete before joining the club and was average at all 3 disciplines.
I was on holiday in Lanzarote, and came across the Ironman. I watched it all day and was mesmerised. I then decided to look into doing a Sprint Triathlon and build up to doing an Ironman over the next few years. It took me 5 years to achieve becoming an Ironman.
I was training for a Half Ironman and was getting bored with training by myself, also the pool I was training in was so small. I heard that Hillingdon had a 50m pool and decided to give it a go. I was welcomed [by the club] to join in for a free swim taster session. I enjoyed it so much that I joined the club next day.
I swim with the club once a week, I then do my own bike, run and strength & conditioning training 3 times a week.
When training for an Ultra event, which means going out running for 5 to 6 hours on the weekend, I'm happy to get up and get moving so I can then spend the rest of the day/weekend chilling or doing my other interests. Seeing the sun rise, the quietness at that time of day is peaceful and motivational and so satisfying once it's all done.
Comrades Marathon, 92 km within 12 hours.
Gun to gun, which meant I started way back and had to make my way to the start line which by then 7 minutes had lapsed. You had several checkpoints along the way and if you didn't meet them, then you had to withdraw. I managed to finish with 15 minutes to spare, I just didn't stop. The pressure and determination to get to the end was overwhelming.
I only ever race against myself, I don't care if I am last over the finish line, the challenge for me is to finish and enjoy the experience.
Triathlon - Only to beat my times from previous years and enjoy it.
Sporting - To travel to unusual places in the world and do my ‘Off the head’ Ultras that hardly anyone can contemplate ever doing, finding more interesting and wacky events to challenge myself that little bit more each time.
Visualise your race.
Enjoy the training, then you’ll enjoy the racing experience.
The National Club Relays in Nottingham. A large contingency from the club goes, all trying their best to beat other team members, great team spirit. A brilliant day out.