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Former soldier Adam inspired to take up triathlon after volunteering at Leeds


We always love to hear you stories and journeys with GO TRI. Former Soldier Adam used GO TRI events to help him take on Columbia Threadneedle World Triathlon Leeds this year after being inspired by the worlds best.

Adam Blackburn was inspired by the best when he saw triathletes compete at the London 2012 Olympics. A former soldier who served 14 years in the British Army, including 2 tours of Afghanistan and other deployments to Cyprus, Germany, Gibraltar and USA, Adam has been into fitness since he was a young boy playing Football and Rugby around the streets of Leeds. This carried on into his military career where he completed 4 training sessions a week with the other members of his unit.

When he watched the London 2012 Olympics and saw the now famous pictures of the Brownlee brothers crossing the line, he was not only inspired in watching them compete, but was incredibly interested in the sport itself. He felt proud watching two boys from his hometown acheive their dreams.

“Around 2 years ago, I had finished playing football but needed a new goal in life," said Adam.

"I continued with the gym and training as this had been a massive part of my life but needed a goal to train for. I decided to start running and then I heard about Parkrun, a free weekly run. Because of my location, I was incredibly lucky to find one so close to where I live. After completing a few of these races and connecting with other runners in the area, I was then asked if I would be interested in joining a local running club called South Leeds Lakers. After I joined and competed in a few more races I started gaining personal bests and then I started beating them.

"I swayed towards triathlon when it was announced that Leeds would play host to the ITU World Triathlon Series. I was delighted because this meant that I could watch a sport I had come to adore and support the Brownlee brothers in person. While I was browsing on the internet, I came across a notice that told me they were looking for volunteers on the day. I quickly jumped at the chance to volunteer and worked at the swim start on the Saturday and Sunday. On Saturday I got to see the Juniors and GO TRI races take place but on the Sunday, it was the turn of the age-groupers and elites. Watching the Elites was an amazing experience but actually, it was one age-group athlete that stood out. A man who was around 80 years old was taking on the triathlon and when I saw him, I told myself that in 12 months’ time I would be in his position.

"Because I knew I would be capable of the running I tried to focus on the other two disciplines of swimming and cycling. I started to gradually buy my equipment and increase my training. Working alongside my running club, I soon learnt to run as soon as I dismounted the bike. I also began training in the pool but because I have previously dislocated my shoulder 4 times and had 2 surgeries, I knew that swimming would be my Achilles heel. I learnt breast stroke instead of the standard front crawln - it's slower but I believed it would get me the distance.

"Around 4 months to go before Columbia Threadneeld World Triathlon Leeds, I entered my first GO TRI. Enjoying this, I signed up for a few more GO TRI events and a 10-mile trail race called Bluebell 10 which was around the steep hills of Halifax. The GO TRI events went without a problem but on my 9th mile on the Bluebell race, I fell into a pothole and hurt my leg. I managed to limp to the finish line and straight into the St Johns Ambulance tent. That evening I ended up in A&E with my leg in a cast and crutches by my side. I was in a state of shock because I was meant to be competing in a triathlon in 6 weeks’ time. Luckily, it wasn't fractured, as this would have put an end to my plans. 

"I managed to complete a GO TRI 3 weeks later even though my ankle was weaker than before. I managed to make it around unscathed and started to believe that I would be able to make it to the start line at Leeds. I knew injury had ruined my training program but I wanted to make it even for the experience alone.

"I was successful in making it to the event and was experiencing a mixture of emotions ranging from excitement to nerves. The race itself went better than I anticipated, considering the injury aspect. I knew from the beginning of my training that swimming was never going to be my strongest discipline but I managed to do well. I came out of the swim and made my way to transition. It was raining hard and the bike course became more difficult, but I made good progress. I knew running was my strongest discipline, so I really went for it despite being tired. I crossed the line feeling a whole host of emotions, but I was proud. The wet weather didn’t ruin any spirits on the day.

"Following on from Leeds, I have continued to train with more running races and GO TRI events. I am hoping to continue my triathlon journey into 2018 and am hoping to compete in ITU World Triathlon Leeds again next summer.

"I wouldn’t be where I was today if it wasn’t for GO TRI. The support I have had from the events and online has been fantastic.

My advice that I would give to inspiring triathletes is to just give it a try and enjoy the journey.”


To book your spot on the startline at ITU World Triathlon Leeds in 2018, visit

To become a British Triathlon member CLICK HERE or to search for your nearest GO TRI event CLICK HERE

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