While most people would start small and work their way up when taking on a new challenge, Age-Group athlete David Vogwell did the opposite. He started his triathlon journey by taking part in an IRONMAN.
He explained: “I was a runner; I grew up as a runner and did track and road races. The general stuff people do and building up to marathons and I was looking for a new challenge in 2014. There’s a couple of guys I know that I met again at a wedding, and I was talking about how I was looking for a new challenge and they said they were doing an Ironman and they said I should sign up and I did.
“I didn’t have a bike and I couldn’t swim. I picked up a second-hand bike and they taught me how to swim and I was straight in with the long distance and have worked my way down and back up [the different multisport distances] again.
“It was fine, it was about 11.5 hours. It was a get round kind of job and once I’d done it, I was hooked on the multi-sport format so I just carried on since then trying different distances and events.”
Vogwell continued to take part in races and settled on duathlon as his discipline of choice and began competing in Age-Group competitions.
“I was late to swimming, so triathlon is a bit more of a struggle to me so when I found about duathlon that suited my strengths,” he said. “I saw someone at a race in GB kit and I was like what’s going on there and I found about Age-Group, and I entered a qualifier I qualified at my first attempt”.
“The Age-Group system is one of the strengths of triathlon. You’re never on your own when you’re at an event everyone gets to know each other. It’s a positive how everyone gets on and supports each other.”
David has since gone onto to represent Great Britain at five international events, the most recent being 2023 World Triathlon Powerman Long Distance Duathlon Championships Zofingen where he finished seventh.
He said: “It was such a good race, the spirit on the course is great. Everyone is going through the same thing, and everyone is helping each other along the way. Not just GB but all different nationalities. It’s a place I would never run or ride around normally, so it was great to be there.”
As well as competing, Vogwell has spent the last year as a Yellow Jersey Age-Group Ambassador, promoting the sport to others and encouraging them to get involved.
He said: “It’s been a brilliant year. Yellow Jersey have been great. I met some of the team and stayed in touch with them throughout the year. They’re really into the sport and are passionate about triathlon, a few of them are Age-Groupers themselves. They’ve offered all sorts of advice, not just insurance, on races, places to go and things like that.
“I have a bit of a journey. I come from a running background, and I have done well to get where I am. I wanted to promote the sport to everyone. There’s loads of people that do one sport and get bored or stuck and to get more people to try triathlon the better.”
And he’s now urging more people to give long distance events ago.
He said: “It’s not as big a step as people think. It’s not easy but it’s achievable. There are multiple ways of qualifying and there’s lots of people out there to help you. I started out training with two friends and they set me well on the path to Age-Group.
“For a long time I thought about it [taking part in triathlon] but thought I can’t swim I don’t have a bike.
“There’s lots of things that are barriers but it’s a lot more achievable than you think. You don’t need a top of the range TT bike, especially for starting, there’s plenty of ways to practice and you’ve got to go in at the deep end and try it.
“Once you’ve tried it, you’re in the community and you won’t want to leave.”
The full list of Age-Group qualifiers including those for long distance European and World championships can be found here.