We recently caught up with Henry Irvine, the 26 year old professional triathlete from Devon. We asked him a bit about his journey to where he is now, the difference having the right wetsuit has made and what tips he would like to share with other triathletes...
So Henry, can you tell us a little bit about you (who you are and where you're from etc?)
My name’s Henry Irvine, I’m 26 and from Devon. Growing up in the countryside close to the coast most of my childhood was spent surfing, exploring Dartmoor and mountain biking with friends. As I grew older I continually looked for ways to challenge myself in the outdoors, going on mountaineering expeditions to places such as the Himalayas and running ultra-marathons. Eventually, having seen my brother complete an Ironman, I decided it was probably something that would suit and challenge me in equal measure. I’ve not looked back since, triathlon’s taken me to some incredible places and I’ve made many great friends along the way. Aside from this I work for the Royal National Lifeboat Institution as a Senior Lifeguard on beaches around the U.K., as well as coaching for Total Tri Training and Dawlish Swimming Club. While I’m now racing Ironman professionally I still work almost full-time, however one day I hope that this may not be the case.
Which sport do you like the most and which one are you best at?
Without a doubt cycling is my strongest discipline and for that reason probably my favourite too, although at least you can’t get a puncture when swimming or running! As a teenager I joined Mid Devon Cycling Club (MDCC) with my friend Nick and we raced on the National Junior Series together. MDCC is one of the strongest cycling clubs in the U.K. and has produced many professional cyclists, including Tour de France riders such as Colin Lewis. For this reason I was able to train with some exceptional athletes, learning quickly how to approach training and racing to maximise success.
How did you get in to triathlon?
As I said my first real exposure to triathlon was when my brother completed Ironman Nice over ten years ago. From there it was something that was always on my radar, however it wasn’t until 2016 that I actually did my first races. I swam competitively as a child, however gave this up aged 11 in favour of rugby and didn’t return until my early twenties. It’s something I’ll always slightly regret as I’ll never get back those lost years and swimming will always be my weakest discipline, although I’ve worked very hard to improve recently.
What's been your biggest achievement to date?
Aside from two races in 2016, 2017 was my first full season in triathlon and I was fortunate enough to gain strong enough results in this short period in order to gain an Ironman Pro Licence. I’m perhaps most proud of my first Ironman 70.3 race, Ironman 70.3 Edinburgh 2017, where I had very little idea what to expect but ultimately came 8th overall and 1st non-professional. More recently I’m very proud of my first Ironman performance, coming 4th overall at Ironman U.K. 2018. I made some rookie mistakes, however to come 4th on a debut hopefully shows that I’m on the right track.
What events do you hope to take part in this year?
I’m currently recovering from Ironman U.K., however I’m hoping to race the Outlaw, Ironman Wales and either Ironman 70.3 Weymouth or Challenge Madrid. Time will tell if my body’s able to cope with this though so I’m sure my plans may change. Looking further in to the future I suppose I’d have to say that one day Kona would have to be a key goal, however I wouldn’t want to go all the way to Hawaii until I felt fully ready so I think this is a few years away yet. I’m beginning a PhD in September and so balancing training with my research in Arctic Sweden is going to be important. Who knows, maybe I’ll have a go at Norseman while I’m in Scandinavia!
We know that you love your Yonda wetsuit, what's the biggest difference do you think it's made to your performance?
I’ve worn so many different wetsuit brands over the past couple of years and I’ve been so impressed with my Yonda wetsuit right from the first time I tried it on. The flexibility is incredible, the materials used are top-quality and the buoyancy is in the right places. Until now I’ve never had a wetsuit that doesn’t rub me and it’s so easy to take off too. Without a doubt the biggest difference my Yonda Ghost has made is that for every race I exit the water closer to the front and less fatigued than I ever used to.
And finally, if you could offer one piece of advice to anyone getting in to triathlons, what would it be?
The ‘C’ word (no, not that one!). Consistency…the single biggest factor in improving is turning up. Every. Single. Day. It’s not what most people I coach want to hear but it’s undoubtedly the key to developing. My second piece of advice would be to not do it alone. Join a club, find a training partner and seek out a coach. You’ll learn faster, you’ll enjoy it more, you’ll push yourself further and you’ll ultimately become a better athlete.
Keep up to date with Henry by checking out his website