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My national champs experience


Having recovered from chronic fatigue syndrome, Neil Arundel returned to physical activity with the help of his son and started his triathlon journey with a Christmas present in 2011 that led to him becoming a national champion in 2019.

 “When I got into my thirties I hadn’t been that active for a number of years and, when running to the local post box, realised how unfit I was,” Arundel said.

“I committed to running a minimum of two miles every day for a year as a result, however found that my knees would get really sore so took up swimming as it’s a low-impact activity.”

Having trained hard and competed in swim marathons, coming out on top in his age group at some of his races, Arundel woke up one morning feeling physically exhausted.

“It was something I hadn’t experienced before and it persisted,” he commented. “After a range of tests, I was diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome or ME and could hardly get out of bed for five years.

“My son supported and encouraged me, gradually weaning me back to physical activity. The culmination of this, which proved to be just the beginning, was to enter me into a triathlon as a Christmas present in 2011. I bought my first racing bike and began training for my first triathlon aged 58.”

Arundel and his son took part in the event together and were both bitten by the swim, bike, run bug.

“I was comprehensively beaten by my son in our first event but thoroughly enjoyed the experience,” he added. “I’ve taken part in loads of events both in Britain and abroad since the first one in 2012 and have had the chance to visit some great places.

“In 2018 I decided to enter an aquathlon because cycling was my weakest discipline. I see myself as a swimmer with some running experience so aquathlon suits me perfectly because I get to combine the two elements that I prefer.”

Each year, Triathlon England coordinate national championship events for aquathlon, duathlon and sprint, standard, middle and relay triathlon which are hosted at events across the country. The 2019 National Aquathlon Championships took part at the Arundel Aquathlon which was too good an opportunity for Arundel to miss.

“With my surname I just had to enter,” he said. “I’d competed in championship events before and having the goal to focus your training on really helps and, with it being a national championships, it gives you the chance to race against the best and challenge you to push yourself further.

“Racing with other likeminded people who are also pushing themselves is really good and, although everyone’s there competing, fellow participants offer the support and encouragement you need.

“The events are good fun to compete at and really well organised, plus, it may be a championship event but there’s really no pressure other than what you put on yourself.

“I hadn’t set out with the expectation of winning so it was quite surreal to be crowned national champion. I’m proud of what I achieved but am simply grateful to still be in a position to physically take part.”

With the 2020 championships cancelled due to Covid-19, Arundel will be out to defend his title this year with the 2021 Triathlon England Aquathlon Championships being hosted at the Worthing Triathlon in September. You can find out more about this and all the national championship events by clicking on the link below.


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