Challenge Daytona – And starting my new life as a full time athlete and coach

Following the 70.3 World Champs I felt at a bit of a cross roads. My goal of getting my pro licence was now real, but the last 12 months had been relentless. Full time sales job, building TTT, training and trying to lead a normal family life left me wondering how on earth I could keep juggling all of these balls. I made the big decision to leave my job in the middle of November. I really believed there was more in the tank if I dedicated a bit more time to training and recovery and at the same time I could build the business with more hours available but on my own terms. 

For somebody who is quite risk averse and being used to being paid on the 25th of the month since the age of 18 this was not an easy decision to make. But with the backing of Heather my wife, I came to the conclusion I didn’t really have a lot to lose. 

So here I am nearly a month on……what has changed? 

Training now starts at about 7:30am rather than 6:00am. Extra sleep, phone not ringing the minute I get in the car. Stress levels down dramatically already.

I realised quite quickly I had to see training as going to work and quickly get into a routine. Its very easy for 7:30 to become 9:30, so I head out the house and generally do something like swim, gym, run or similar before coming home for lunch. Sometimes the day is done, others I train again around 4pm. I try and be done by 6pm latest to make dinner for H coming home from work. I still have this habit of thinking I need to be in front of my computer until 5pm though, so I get engrossed in training plans or meetings for the business just like I would at work. It’s definitely a balancing act, because I know that the business is now what pays the bills.

Whilst all this is happening I don’t really make it easy for myself and decide to have one final blow out of the year at Challenge Daytona. I’m keen to get race experience in the Pro Ranks. In reality it’s too soon to notice any change from the new set up, but I’m still keen to go and race and just see where I stand. Getting away from the British winter is a bit of novelty so to be able to travel to Florida sounds very appealing!

Training is going well until 2 weeks before the race where I think I pick up a virus. Everybody around me is picking up colds and although I feel like it could happen just at anytime nothing comes out. But I’m struggling to hit the high intensity work so know my body is fighting something. All I can do is rest and just do enough training to keep my body firing. Even the days leading up to the race I still don’t feel that great. Race intensity feels harder than it should and I’m complaining to Rafal each day! We don’t really know what my body will give on the day, but I remain hopeful it will give me one more racing day of the year……


Living in the UK, you don’t quite realise the enormity of racing on the Daytona Circuit. We pass the stadium, all 167k seats on the way to where we are staying on the Wednesday night before. We as in my always willing to travel racing partner Andy Hamilton and fellow pro Sam Proctor. After a few days of easy training and getting over the travel, Friday is registration, briefing & pro dinner. There are some big names entered and being surrounded by these guys makes me wonder whether I am out of my league a bit, especially when I don’t really know what my body is going to do come race day. 

After days of sunshine, a storm is passing just as we are going to race. It’s a difficult decision for Challenge the organisers but they have no choice but to delay the pro start. They look after us well, supplying whatever food we asked for. Nearly 6 hours later we get to race on a revised route shortened to 1 mile swim, 37.5 mile bike (15 laps of the track) 8.2 mile run racing around the Daytona Circuit (it was originally planned for the bike to be mainly outside) 

The swim goes well exiting the water in about 8th place, it feels unreal being surrounded by big names like Cam Wurf and Starky. I know I am going to have to wave goodbye to the these 2 on the bike but apart from these guys I hold on my own on the bike getting off in 6th. So far my body has held up pretty well and I just have 8 miles to run. After 3 miles I catch Cam Wurf for 5th place but have Matt Russell and Steve Zawaski right on my tail. I’m not quite strong enough to hold these guys off so I eventually finish 7th. 

I would have snapped your hand off for this before the race so I have to be happy. I have been able to mix it with some of the biggest names in the sport. But I am also realistic, it’s December and some of these guys have had big racing seasons and are tired and ready for a break. I have a lot more work to do, but its given me the confidence I do belong here. 

As for the race itself, it was an epic experience that I can recommend to anybody. Easy to get to flying into Orlando and amazing holiday opportunities afterwards.

As for me, I am well and truly done for 2018! But already looking forward to next year. 

See more here about coaching from Chris