A junior triathlete prepares for Hever Castle

Stephen Burgess, 15, on brick sessions and beating his dad

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Stephen Burgess, a 15-year-old triathlete and one of three brothers training for the Hever Castle triathlon at the end of September, tells us how he got into the sport and which family member he has set his sights on beating next.

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I first began to get really hooked when we did a couple of events on holiday in 2011 and I won my category. I am now doing some adult sprint events where I am allowed to enter and I am also competing in some of the BTF Youth Super Series events such as Eton Dorney and the Blenheim triathlons.

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been addressing aspects of my races to try and improve my technique and times for Hever. My swim is where I can improve a lot because I am not great at being in the front out of the water. This means I miss the lead pack on the bike in races that are draft legal and I have to work really hard to pass riders and finish in a good position. I’m therefore doing a special video swim session so I can really fine-tune my swim technique.

I also attended a triathlon training day where we covered all parts of improving your triathlon experience. I learnt a lot from that day and I’m already putting it into practice in training. Being at an open water venue, it was fantastic practice ahead of Hever.

Due to the amazing weather, training out on my bike has been brilliant. Where I live we have lots of quiet country lanes and I can plan routes that are demanding but safe (keeps my mum happy).

My bike club is called Hemel Hempstead Cycling Club and I regularly do the club’s weekly summer time trial and a club social ride, both of which are improving my speed and general riding skills. I’ve posted good times in the time trial and I’ve learnt a lot more about group riding and discovered what my strengths and weaknesses are on long rides. I still enjoy off-road riding too, and training and racing can mean finding the mud on my Trek 29er.

Watch out Dad

Running is my strongest part of triathlon and I enjoy the training. Over the past few weeks it has been a variety of brick sessions, interval work, hill sessions and training on the track. My technique has got a lot better recently thanks to what I’ve learnt from training with elite athletes and coaches.

My times in races over the run have improved throughout the year and I’ve been doing quite a few 5k races, which is a good distance for me. My last race was the Waddesden 5k in July and I did 18:57mins (not a PB but it was a hilly course) which was a minute and a half quicker than last year so I was quite pleased. I was aiming to beat my Dad but he got ahead by a few seconds – he’d better watch out next time!

Apart from bigger events like Blenheim, I have been doing smaller events too in the Eastern region where my little brothers compete in the Tristar categories. They are very different to compete in as they are always a pool swim and an off-road bike circuit, plus they seem very short. 

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I love the longer distances and getting out on the road now! However, I’ve had consistent results. My best result of the season so far is an age group win at the Kimbolton Sprint last month in 54.49. This has spurred me on and I’m training hard and aiming to be at my best for Hever.