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Alice Jenkins

20th June 2016

“I once turned up at a swimming gala without a costume.”

Twenty-four-year-old Alice Jenkins is a final year veterinary student at Edinburgh University and is one of the stars of the Aropec-sponsored HBC Jets. In May’s Age Group European Championships in Lisbon, she finished 1st overall. This is her triathlon life…

I was a swimmer from a young age, I started at about nine years old. I was quite good and got to regional levels but not enough for national or anything. Once I got to GCSE age, it started to get tricky to maintain the training with all the early morning sessions.

When I got to uni, I started cycling and running a bit more and so triathlon made sense. When I started training I wasn’t thinking about competing, I just wanted to give training a go, but in the second year of being involved I started entering races.

I once turned up at a swimming gala without a costume. And it’s been that kind of thing that worried me with triathlon – so many things to remember! I entered my first race months in advance and just kept checking everything online. I was worried about all the details, I knew I could do the distance but what about the transition and all the gear and equipment, would I get it all right?

I joined the JETS after I qualified for Great Britain. Some of the guys I trained with from uni encouraged me to try, and though I didn’t really believe them at the time, I qualified for the Great Britain age group team at Liverpool triathlon in 2014. I worried that I might look out of place if there were many more experienced triathletes there, so I started training with the JETS so that I could give it a proper go.

Joining a triathlon club was easy, triathletes are very friendly. They were very inclusive from the start and I always encourage other people to join. Triathlon accepts all types of people, you can see that at events when you see who’s competing – it’s basically everyone.

I need the sport to keep me sane – that’s the way I see it. If you always spend your time with people on your course, that’s all you end up talking about so I need the release of triathlon. That said, triathlon is definitely a lifestyle too. You do miss some of the social aspects of uni but I don’t regret it.

I train twice a day most days, with one day of rest a week. Each session is about an hour and a half so it can be tough to do everything all at once – train and study. It eases off in the summer when you’re racing and there aren’t any lectures, but it’s not easy the rest of the time. It’s the same with most age groupers though, it’s not their livelihood, they have jobs too.

Because of the people, the atmosphere at races is incredible. Everyone wants to talk to you, everyone enjoys themselves, everyone is there to have a good time. I also think the training for triathlon is more fun too. If you have variety in your training you have much more fun than, say, if you’re running a marathon.

I’ve learnt to rest more since training with Joel. You always want to train more, especially as there is always someone training more than you, there is always someone going for a ride in the afternoon or doing a swim when you’re not. But having a plan helps to step back and resist the temptation to train beyond your schedule.

Coming second at the European Championships in Geneva was the best. I couldn’t believe it when I crossed the line. There were about 1,500 competitors at the Euros, with different distances and different age groups, about 30 across my category. The day before the races there was an opening ceremony with a parade, it felt really special, it was the first time I felt like a proper triathlete.