A Day with Tim Don and 220 Triathlon – What we Learnt

August 2019 saw Zone3 and 220 Triathlon team up to offer a ‘money can’t buy’ prize to one lucky winner – the opportunity to spend a day training with triathlon legend, Tim Don, near his home in Loughborough. Due to Tim’s busy racing and travelling schedule, the event took place on the 30th of October 2019, just three days after the 70.3 Marrakesh event in which Tim came 4th despite being led astray on the bike leg and riding an extra 3km. Would the British weather hold up to allow the training to go ahead, and would the team brave a chilly open water swim? Read on to find out more about the day.

We started the day in a quaint café on the edge of Bradgate Park, to fuel up for the day ahead. James Witts from 220 Triathlon was on hand to take Tim’s proven advice onboard alongside the competition prize winner, Richard Smith. Richard was keen to pick Tim’s brains on training and racing ahead of his attempt at Ironman UK in 2020. After brief introductions and a round of coffee and cake, the group wrapped up warm and set out for a 2-hour bike ride on the cool and crisp October morning.

As we’ve grown accustomed to with Tim, conversation was light-hearted, genial and free flowing. His passion for triathlon throughout his career has never faltered and his enthusiasm on the day was infectious.

The bike route was one that weaved through narrow country lanes and dodged flooded roads – areas that Tim knows well having spent many miles in the saddle in the areas around Loughborough. We learned about Tim’s training early in his career, where he competed as a junior for Thames Turbo Triathlon Club alongside another legend of the sport, Spencer Smith. The jump from paper boy to professional triathlete was the only logical progression for Tim and the fact he is still a high-performance athlete 25 years later is a testament to his talent and dedication. In this time, Tim has made a name for himself competing in ITU short-course racing (including 3 Olympic Games appearances) and long-distance racing (where Tim broke the Ironman World Record in Brazil in 2017 with a time of 7:40:23). In 2019 Tim has also been involved in Paratriathlon, serving as Dave Ellis’ guide in the PTVI category on the road to the 2020 Tokyo Paralympic Games.

The selectors choice of Dave’s racing guide for Tokyo will be made in early 2020 and will be the main influence on the direction of Tim’s racing calendar for the year. For now, though, Tim is looking forward to an end-of-season break and spending Christmas with his family. A few late-season races at Challenge Cape Town in November and Patagonman in December will be his final events of the year before a well-earned rest! The 2-hour bike ride left us at RaceHub (https://www.racehub.uk/swim/) where we let ourselves warm up briefly before taking on the next challenge of the day. What better way to prepare for the colds of Patagonman in Southern Chile than to go for an open water swim in the UK in late October! The 8°C water was colder than expected but being wrapped up in Zone3 neoprene accessories helped to stave off the cold during the bracing swim set. After the excitement of the training day, it was a welcome relief to be able to sit down in the RaceHub venue and pick Tim’s brains fully for training tips. His training philosophy boils down to “Train Hard, Race Easy”, and he’s a big believer of focusing on consistency and personal performance rather than results. For a full breakdown of Tim’s Ironman Advice, check out the January 2020 edition of 220 Triathlon – on sale now