Front & Centre: Rachel Collinge

Neuff Red has a team of pro-triathletes, top coaches and others, but most triathletes are normal people enjoying swim-bike-run: The Age-Groupers.  These athletes hold down a day job, manage their family life and still manage to dedicate time for training and racing.  This series is a celebration of the age-groupers!


Iron-distance triathlete Rachel Collinge talks to Neuff Red about her sport

When and how did you start triathlon?

Rachel Collinge running at Ironman KalmarI don't remember the first time I thought of myself as an athlete as the change was so gradual.  I also don't remember when I decided to do an Ironman.  I remember watching Ironman Wales on the TV and thinking how awesome and crazy those people were, and the next thing I remember was asking a local coach if he could train me to Ironman.  He didn't laugh or fall off his chair, so that was that. 

What is your favourite thing about triathlon?

The best thing about triathlon is how everyone loves to share.  You're wandering around transition, looking a bit lost and a total stranger will offer you help.  You're at the swim start, ready to cry because you're so nervous and someone will give you a smile or a fist-bump (pre-COVID) and make you feel a bit better.  A minute later, you'll be racing against them, but they still share.

I really love helping people out, particularly in transition. I love passing on hints and tips to newbies and walking them through the transition zone.

What are your best and worst moments?

Age Group triathlete Rachel Collinge cyclingMy worst moment and greatest achievement are 2 sides of the same coin.  The worst moment was when I got sick on the bike 130km into my first Ironman and decided to pull out.  After 12 months of training, to make that decision was so hard.  On the other hand, my greatest achievement was getting back on the horse and going back to the same race a year later and finishing.

My friends are the biggest influences in my triathlon life, they all bring something to the party.  Some are Ironmen, some go further than that, some love shorter events, but they all astonish me when I'm racing and they are all following me on the app.  The most important thing for me though is my support structure at home. My partner supports all my training, my moods, getting up at 4am on race day and standing around on the course for 16 hours waiting for me to finish.

What is the funniest thing that happened to you?

I think to most embarrassing thing that ever happened to me was being half changed in T1 and realising that I had the wrong bike bag.  I ran back out of the change tent to hang it back up and found the poor man whose bag it was looking for it.  I apologised so profusely and I still hope that I didn't ruin his day.

Age group triathlete Rachel Collinge with Ironman Europe commentator Paul at KalmarI was also very proud when I got shown in the Ironman Kalmar race movie.  My partner is in it every year (which is an ongoing joke) and he spoke to Paul Kaye (European voice of Ironman) and when I crossed the line I went straight to hug my partner, then someone grabbed me and spun me round to be face to face with the camera and getting a hug off Paul.  That was a good day.

What are you training for at the moment and what are your goals?

Ironman Kalmar is 'my race', so I will be going back to that as soon as COVID allows.  My next dream goal is Ironman Australia - I was booked in for 2020, but that has obviously fallen through, so I hope to be there next year.  I use triathlon as an excuse to travel - I can't think of a better way to choose which part of the world to explore!