Eric Perrier

13221038_10153374441451741_3848519792680912426_nI discovered triathlon on television in 1983.  My friend Thierry and I fell upon the “Triathlon International de Nice”, not yet Ironman at the time nor Ironman distance but evidently a hell of an endurance feat for a few hundred competitors. Thus coming across Illustrious names such Mark Allen, Dave Scott, Scott Tinley, Scott Molina (also known as the Big Four), Yves Cordier, Rob Barel for the men.  Lynn Brooks, Linda Buchanan, Erin Baker, Paula Newby-Fraser and Julie Moss for the women.

We were fascinated by this fairly new sport as we learned it had only started 4 years prior in Hawaii.

I will never forget the bits of drama and elation, the beautiful sceneries, the sea and the sunshine as these amazing athletes were pushing it to the limit.  Ever since, I have kept this admiration for every single person tackling the sport in whatever distance, at whatever event, with whatever ambition or expectation and whatever capacity or incapacity, all with triathlon as a common denominator and for most of us humility as an outcome.

1984 able to swim, bike and run decently and with two cycling victories in the amateur rankings I felt this was a sport for me. First triathlon in Sablé, France.  Unfortunately my last one too.  After the river swim in a windsurfing wetsuit I had to stop after a few kilometres of the bike suffering from excruciating pain at the back of my knee which I had already experienced in cycle races and what I later found out to be a badly torn meniscus.

I saw a physio and an osteopath but at the time my father was not in a position to get me to see a specialist. The pain subsided but kept coming back regularly in the following weeks and months.  That was me done with triathlon before I had even started and it was also the end for me and all competitive sport for 25 years.

… 2009, arrived in Tunbridge Wells after twelve years spent in London I felt it was time to get back into sport again as I had finally got operated the year before: a menisectomy, a removal of 90% of my torn right posterior meniscus.  It enabled me to do sport “in line”, nothing else:  *ding* triathlon comes to mind again.  I then joined the TW Harriers for that very reason but the tri section was not functioning so well but I ended up making loads of friends in the running section.  However, I still had triathlon in mind and I thought “If you can’t find it, start it”. So I did.  One morning I got online and created a Tunbridge Wells club dedicated to triathlon and all its other disciplines (duathlons, aquathlons,…) adopting the town motto which I find most suitable to triathlon “Do well, doubt not”.13015531_10154159492112174_5846220273536053886_n

The first year was all a bit hectic, advertising, calling, writing, organising a few sessions, taking my coaching level 1 and starting my level 2 not long after although to this date it is not yet finished.  By the second year I had attended so many seminars and conferences I felt confident it could survive.  The first members, some of them still active, Jackie Green, Karen Goodwin, Ken McSporran (our Vice-President), would often give me good feedback and support. By 2010-2011 circa twenty members are training, racing and already doing well in a very friendly atmosphere.

Six years later here we are: still a very enjoyable group, full of enthusiasm and respect for one another.  Some competing at national and international level, some getting solid results locally, some happy to take part and complete or only train to keep fit, but very importantly all having time for one another keeping this wonderful virtuous circle moving.

On a personal level I have only been improving recently, very marginally, but steadily and this I can’t deny helped by the fact a club committee is now in place and is doing super well.  Like most people, especially with the London work and commute,  I don’t have all the time in the world to dedicate to my practice of triathlon but it is all about boxing clever and making the best possible use of any training time available!  Admittedly, I share this passion for triathlon with my partner who is also a member of the club and this helps a lot.

I was selected to compete for GB last year and then for France this year but I didn’t perform as well as I feel I could have. However, I am immensely proud to have represented both my adoptive and my native country.  I am still hoping to improve for the foreseeable future, in speed, and aiming to go up to IM distance within one year or two, in volume.

A few weeks ago I had a mechanical just before a race and couldn’t take part.  I watched all the competitors including seven club mates with envy. Deep inside it hurt as I had been looking forward to competing at middle distance but in the end it didn’t really matter: I love triathlon so much I derived a huge amount of pleasure watching thousands of competitors giving it their best. Just like back in 1983.  Many smiling (or crying of joy) their way to the finish.

Triathlon claim to fame:  Leanda Cave accepted to visit us for a Q&A at the Compasses pub in Tunbridge Wells

Favourite event so far:  Standard distance in Bala, Wales

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