1989! I realise that’s a strange way to start a column, but that was the year that this mighty magazine you hold in your hand was first published. And what a year it was – the Berlin wall came down, students stood in front of tanks in Tiananmen Square, the USSR pulled out of Afghanistan, the first episode of The Simpsons was aired, Sky TV and the Nintendo Gameboy were launched, Greg LeMond won the Tour de France from Laurent Fignon by just 8 seconds, the Exxon Valdez oil spill disaster happened and, most tragically of all, Phil Collins was at number one in the charts.
But it was a momentous year for me too because it was the one in which I left that historic seat of learning, Liverpool Polytechnic, and embarked on my career as a junior reporter on that mighty organ of news, the Northants Herald & Post. So it’s no wonder that I somehow missed the launch of 220 Triathlon!
I should perhaps also confess that I may not have noticed this magazine’s appearance on the shelves in WHSmith because I wasn’t exactly sporty in those days. Indeed I was well on my way to tipping the scales at 16 stone. It occurs to me, therefore, that quite a lot has changed in my life in the past 30 years, and without wishing to be melodramatic, quite a lot of that is down to me discovering triathlon. So, in honour of 220’s 30th anniversary, here are 30 things I have today which I didn’t have 30 years ago, all thanks to this sport we all know and love:
1. Nipple chafe.
2. More bikes than teeth.
3. A mortal dread of Portaloos.
5. A loft full of race T-shirts.
6. A large tin full of mystery items, which have come off various old bike shoes, group sets, inner tubes etc, which I thought ‘I’ll keep that, it’ll be useful’, absolutely none of which has been useful.
7. A series of tan lines at different lengths on my arms and legs making me look like a sentient deckchair.
8. Fewer than 10 toenails at any one time.
9. More hair in my ears than on my legs.
10. An encyclopaedic knowledge of my race results, and a Tourettes-like urge to share them.
11. An appetite so sharp that my dogs growl at me if I go near their bowls.
12. A published book.
13. A Team GB skinsuit which, for the number of times I’ve worn it versus what it cost to purchase, is probably more expensive than my bike.
14. A permanent rash on my shoulder thanks to stubble-rub from my crappy swim stroke.
15. A belief that any running race under marathon distance should be cycled to or it doesn’t count.
16. Neoprene incontinence, i.e the urge to go to the bog the moment I zip up my wetsuit.
17. A Jaffa Cake addiction.
18. An overwhelming competitive urge not to let Deliveroo riders overtake me.
19. An address book full of nutters.
20. A drawer full of kit that smells like a hibernating mammal.
21. A sub-3hr marathon time (ithankyew).
22. A growing sense of doom when the nights draw in – turbo training!
23. A lifestyle which has gone from me believing that a pulse is something I had to check after heaving my fat arse up some stairs, to it being something I order in a vegan restaurant.
24. A physique when naked which makes me look like a character from a Russian novel.
25. A gait while walking which causes people to ask ‘Are you injured?’
26. A Facebook timeline awash with race photos where I’m more red-faced than a Christmas trumpeter.
27. A training regime so full on that when it comes to a social life, my bins go out more than I do.
28. A shed full of old tyres, which I’ve kept thinking ‘I’ll save that for the turbo trainer’.
29. A trail of broken physios who’ve crippled themselves trying to massage my hamstrings.
30. 15 Ironman finisher’s medals (ithankyew).
So here’s to another 30 years of 220! By 2049 I will undoubtedly have been replaced on this page by a far more energy efficient triathlete, but my main goal is to make some more magical tri memories – and perhaps get back to having 10 toenails