Willy  Duhen

Swimmer at heart.
I consider myself as a swimmer at heart, but I currently do more dry-land exercises to prepare for my next challenge: my first Ironman. The London marathon was supposed to be my challenge of the year, but due to the current situation around the world, I postponed it to next year. I now hope that life will go back to normal in the summer - so I could race this triathlon mid-September in Italy.

This challenge was not necessarily obvious just 5 years ago. I started swimming when I was young with my squad, training late evenings a few times a week, and going to galas during the weekend. Like many, I let aside swimming in high school, preferring other activities. Even if I kept swimming here and there, I only got back to swimming after I moved to the UK and had a swimming pool a few blocks away from home. It's when I met Dan, head coach at Swim For Tri who coached me with his triathlon squad and gave me the open water bug. For some reason, I never thought it was a thing; we do not have proper open water facilities in Paris. With the development of triathlon, it became more popular but it is still very difficult to access from the city centre. You can imagine my reaction when he invited me to swim with his group in the Serpentine: "What? Can you really swim in the centre of one of the biggest cities in Europe? Really?" Wow, I was charmed at first sight. Swimming with the swans, geese, and ducks flying and swimming around me at sunset. I found peace in the water; it was so relaxing.

The triathlon bug

Almost at the same time, I caught the triathlon bug, when I did my first Olympic distance at Windsor triathlon. The challenge of combining three sports and being resilient through the effort  was very appealing to me. That day, I'd been passed by the woman winner of the race and I was impressed by her running form and speed, while I was agonizing. 

Please, don't think I was ahead of her:  the running route was actually three laps, she was at least one lap ahead of me if not two! A couple of years later, Emma became my triathlon coach. That spring, I met two of my inspirations and started learning a lot from them.

In parallel, I share an interest in running with my wife Michele - and we run together on longer distances, up to marathons. I am very fortunate to share this hobby with my best partner, we are very supportive of each other. And we also have great running-travels adventures together.

Fast forward a few years,  and I will race my first triathlon Ironman in Italy  in 2020 (hopefully). The race is 3.8km of swimming, 180km of cycling and 42.2km of running. Yes, there is a marathon to run after the 180km bike ride 😱!

This is extremely scary and crazy (not sure which comes first). However, as the weeks of training are completed, it feels more achievable. One would was very appealing to me. That day, I'd been passed by the woman winner of the race and I was impressed by her running form and speed, while I was agonizing.  was very appealing to me. That day, I'd been passed by the woman winner of the race and I was impressed by her running form and speed, while I was agonizing. 

My training, smartly put together by Emma, mixes a lot of 1-hour(ish) sessions of running and cycling - and I swim with a master squad, so I can keep praticing my butterfly while getting front crawl strength. I also add some yoga to stretch and release some muscle tension, which builds the week up to 15 hours of exercises. I am very fortunate that Michele is very supportive and follows me in some of my running and cycling (I still hope to get her into swimming soon!).

We are six months away from the race and I feel pretty confident. I truly believe that consistency is key. Therefore, I built a solid weekly routine, managing my time between training hours, work, travels, family and leisure time. (this has however been thrown into turmoil in recent weeks - I will let you know what I did to cope)

I am also very excited to use this personal challenge to give back to and fundraise for a small charity called “Ron Pickering Memorial Fund” (you can donate here). 

They support young promising, both able and disabled, athletes. Each grant is designed to help the young athletes make the difficult transition from junior to senior level through support for equipment, specialist coaching or travel and importantly help build the athletes’ confidence and self-esteem through recognition.

Lastly, I am very thankful to Selkie for welcoming me as part of their Charity Challenge Team and supporting my charity. I've been wearing their products for a while, they are very comfy, cosy, last for years and are sustainable! They offer you a 20% discount on all products with the code CCWD20 and they will donate part of your spending to my charity! That's a win-win-win. Thank you so much Selkie!

Let's rock & roll, and thank you for your support!