Outside interest: Professional triathlon

Written by: Jez Abbott
Published on: 1 Apr 2015

Neil Riding

SLR Consulting technical director Neil Riding is gearing up to run in two triathlon events this summer at Salford Quays, Greater Manchester. One of the running-cycling-and-swimming events is dedicated to the property profession and SLR Consulting is sponsoring both races, trying to coax clients as well as staff into competing. Riding used to compete professionally in the triathlon.

How did you get into triathlon competing?

I was keen on running and cycling at school, which is when I was introduced to triathlon by a friend who was a good swimmer. My first event was in 1995 and within four years I had worked my way up to professional status and had my triathlon licence. But you need to be in the top 10 to earn real money, which I didn't quite reach, so I reverted back to a career in consultancy. 

What does it involve?

A lot of training: when I was working up to be a pro my life evolved around training and recovering from training. This could take 30 hours a week. To be successful you must train to your weaknesses and race to your strengths. More people are coming to the sport, which is good. It's grown in profile, thanks in part to Sydney in 2000 when it became an Olympic sport for the first time.

Why do you do it?

Triathlon is a great community sport, fostering a feeling you're all in it together. Other sports like road cycling can be a bit cliquey, but triathlon is nothing like that. When you take to the river, lake or sea there's a huge sense of a shared experience.

What’s the toughest thing about it?

A lot of people say they can swim but the triathlon means anything from 750m to 3,000m, while plunging into open water can be more daunting than pool swimming.

What's the most rewarding thing about it?

The shared experience: standing on Bournemouth beach on a freezing-cold morning brings you all together emotionally as well as physically. I've also been to France and Australia and once competed in Lausanne, Switzerland: I started the day in drizzly Manchester and by 2pm was in Lake Geneva, its crystal-clear waters reflecting blue sky and snow-capped mountains in the distance. It was almost like a dream.

Are there any similarities between your day job and competing in the triathlon?

To compete in sport at a high level calls for a fair degree of motivation, application and determination. You need discipline and rigour to do things well, and these are similar to the qualities needed in your profession.

Do you have any unusual interests or hobbies that you would like to tell us about? If so, please email planning@haymarket.com