TimDon-OutlawX2020 5.jpg


Tim don

by notinthepeloton

Wednesday 4th November 2020

Lockdown 1.0 was a big shock to the system for everyone. For professional athletes and sports people, it left them in limbo. When was the next race? How do I access my training sessions now that the gyms and swimming pools are closed? Tim Don, a household and probably one of the best names ever for a triathlete, was forced to answer these questions and Endurance Sports TV was on hand to document his build up to Outlaw X...

Hi Tim. Thank you for taking the time out to speak to us. Your documentary - Tim Don Processing – Road to Outlaw X on Endurance Sports TV is all about your return to racing post-lockdown 1.0 and we can only imagine the uncertainty that surrounded races in triathlon, cycling and beyond. What was your first thoughts when a national lockdown was announced and all sports across the globe suddenly stopped?


Like everyone else I was just gutted firstly for myself and what it might mean for my season, but then it really sank in when we saw all the great small business going under and all the people who were really ill from the virus, I was just shocked that in 2020 this kind of thing can happen globally. As we go into lockdown number 2 with no vaccine on the horizon we are still very much in the woods ! I am just happy Matilda and Hugo are still able to go to school right now.


Triathlon is mostly an individual base sport so was there much change to your training routines or did you find the social aspect of training with other athletes difficult to come to terms with?


Well, all swimming stopped which is very much a squad thing for me and I did 90% of all biking and running on Zwift so yes, my training changed massively in terms of how I did it but also with no races looking likely it was hard to build up for a peak as you normally would in a training session. It didn’t feel like you could just take a break and chill or just try and stay somewhat fit and hope a race would happen later in the year. It was very hard for me if I am honest. like must Pros I love the process but, but mostly because we are working towards a goal. I also always swim, bike and run with other people so it was a big change for me.


We imagine that the swimming aspect of triathlon training was probably the hardest one to replicate during lockdown. So was it a case of filling the bath up or did you replace swimming with something else?


For swim training I ended up doing some stretch band work 2 times a week and used the extra energy to work on a few other areas of my race. As well as training we also had our two children at home, a dog and my mother also ended up in lock down with us, so I had plenty to do!! It was a massive relief when I could start to swim open water even if it was about 12"C for the first few weeks.


We actually ‘raced’ you once. We’ve used inverted commas because in our one and only triathlon we took part in, we crashed the bike in biblical rain at the Thames Turbo Sprint Tri’ in Hampton. We managed to get ourselves back on the bike now bloodied and bruised but then we hear the whirring sound of disc wheels fly past which turned out to be you. When we were beginning our 5k run in Bushy Park, I think you were probably at home already with your feet up and with a cuppa. What was your first tri’ like, as bad as ours?! Oh, we forgot to put our race number on coming out of the swim so I doubt it!


I had a shocker for my first race but I absolutely loved it. It too was at Hampton pool where I was a lifeguard when I was at school, such an amazing place with Thames Turbo - my old triathlon club. I think I had laces in my run shoes so T2 took forever, but I had a smile the whole time round and was hooked. I think I joined the tri club a few weeks later back in 1992.  


Compared to your first tri’ to the most recent pre-COVID, how much has changed in terms of tech, prep and execution of races?


Wow so much from the wetsuits to the crazy bikes. I love my Shiv Disc and now it’s all the rage with carbon running shoes. I had a Dawes Galaxy with rat trap pedals and a Britax helmet and just had swimming trunks and a running vest when I first started. It’s too funny when I look at what we use today it's a 100 miles away from what I used to use.


It’s probably hard to nail down goals for 2021 but was there any events you wanted to tick off?


Honestly - I’d love to just to race try and get a full ironman in. Even better would be to have a season and to get away for a few warm weather camps with my mates and family - I missed those big time this year.

We imagine you have a fleet of bikes to choose from so which one is your favourite to race on?


The Shiv Disc is pure speed in race set up, it absolutely fly’s and I love that feeling. But in the hills, I love my Tarmac SL7 - man it is sweet. I have also just got a gravel bike the new Turbo Creo EVO - so winter is going to be fun!!!!


Final question from us. Surely you’re known as ‘The Don’ in the triathlon world, if not, why not?! But who would have been ‘The Don’ (#1 ranked triathlete) for 2020 if the triathlon scene wasn’t interrupted?


For ITU 100% it would be Vincent [Luis] - I mean they have had a few races and he has just kicked ass and won them all. He would have won Tokyo in 2020, but in 2021 who knows. GTB [Georgia Taylor-Brown] has also had a breakthrough year but then Flora [Duffy] just bounced back from a tough 16 months and after her 2nd race was riding off the front and winning it all, just nuts really.


In Ironman Jan [Frodeno] was in such great shape last year but he has had a few crashes this year so who knows. Ironman is a funny old game, however I would go with Jan and Lucy Charles. 


Thanks again for your time and if you ever see a bearded cyclist sitting in the gutter soaked to the skin with ripped shorts when you fly past on your next tri, call us a cab home!