Mimi Anderson: 5 tips for succeeding in your first triathlon race

Mimi Anderson has made a name for herself as a world record setting ultra runner but more recently she’s also been able to call herself a triathlete.

The mother-of-three took part in her first triathlon over the sprint distance in 2019, despite being a novice cyclist and petrified of water. She turned to the event in her fifties after a knee injury meant she could no longer run the long distances she loved and excelled at.

Gaining the courage to take part in the Cranbrook Triathlon near her home in Kent involved gaining experience of cycling and overcoming her fear of being in the water.

She said: “I never believed I would have the courage or ability to do a triathlon because of the swim. I used to have massive panic attacks if my head ever went underwater because of a traumatic event in my childhood where I watched my little sister nearly drown. It took time (and a lot of patience from my swim coach Kevin Draper) but I eventually learnt how to do the front crawl and to be more calm and relaxed in the water.”

She continues: “I nearly pulled out of doing the triathlon on the day as I was so nervous. I worried about everything including the transitions but especially the swim. I had chosen the Cranbrook Tri as the 300m swim was in a pool rather than open water but to me that was just as scary.

“I’m so glad I faced my fears as once the swim was over (and wasn’t half as scary as I thought it would be) I enjoyed the 21km bike ride and 5k run. The elation and pride I felt when I crossed the line was simply marvellous and I was amazed to discover I had won my age category.”

Mimi hopes she can inspire other people to give triathlon a go. 

Here are her top tips on how to succeed in your first race:

1: Ensure you have a good breakfast a few hours before the event. For me, that’s always coffee and two pieces of toast with marmite and crunchy peanut butter, or porridge and a banana. 

2: When putting your bike in the transition area, check to see where the entrance from the swim is in relation to where you have put your bike so you can find it easily. Find out where the exit is too for the run so you know where you are going. You could walk through it before the race to make you feel more relaxed. 

3: Set out your kit in the transition area so everything is easily accessible and works for you. 

4:  I have been told that putting baby oil or something similar around your wrists and ankles helps when taking the wetsuit off after the swim. 

5:  Relax and enjoy!

Mimi reveals more about her first foray into triathlon and her world record attempt to run across America in her second book, Limitless: An ultrarunner’s story of pain, perseverance and the pursuit of success, which was published by Summersdale last month.

We have two copies of the book to give away. To win, head over to our social channels @eventsatw. 

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