Harry Eaton is an Army Lieutenant who is competing in the OA Inter-Services Triathlon. He is also the British Army Triathlon Association secretary. He gave us an interview on being a triathlete.
Tell us about yourself
I’m a 26 year-old Lieutenant in 1 Regiment Army Air Corps at RNAS Yeovilton. I completed Sandhurst In 2015 having graduated from Durham University, which is where I started triathlon.
How many triathlons have you competed in?
Seven seasons is a fair amount of time to have competed, so I’ve lost count of individual triathlons. Some of the most memorable include my first Ironman (Bolton); the Ironman World Championships in Hawaii (2012 and 2016); the 70.3 Ironman World Championships in Las Vegas (2013) and Zell Am Zee, Austria (2015), and the Xterra World Championships in Hawaii (2014).
Why do you enjoy competing in triathlons?
I enjoy the challenge of training around a busy life, and the arduous nature of the events themselves. The fulfilment of training and competing is also a major factor. Sometimes life can be frustrating so it feels great to do a sport where the fruits of your labour are, more or less, the product of your own effort.
What makes a triathlon tough?
I think everyone finds different aspects tough. Initially for me I think it was the prospect of tackling one, getting used to the training, the fear of failure and just the scale of some of the longer ones. As time goes on you get used to the process of training and it’s more individual disciplines that can be tough. I think everyone will agree that the bar fight that is the swim start is pretty tough.
What is your training programme?
It depends on the time of year, race goal, work, family and more. I’ll sit down with the Army Head Coach at the start of the year and try and work out a rough working plan e.g. a minimum and maximum weekly training volume. The training plan will then work to get me to reach my peak fitness for my A-race of the year (the Standard and Middle Distance Inter-Services this year). I will try and swim at least 9km a week, as this is my weakest discipline, bike 2-3 times a week, run 2-3 times a week, use Sqn/Regimental PT for strength and conditioning work and also some cross-training.
What advice would you give to someone competing in a triathlon?
It depends on what stage they are at. For the newbie, just enjoy it and embrace the journey. Even for an amateur there can be a lot of emotion involved. There will be ups and downs, so accept and embrace them. For the more advanced, when you start losing motivation look at how you can mix things up – go up or down a distance, or try competing at a higher level. The OA Inter-Service Triathlon is open to anyone who is willing to put the time and effort in to train.
What makes the OA Inter-Services Triathlon challenging?
The competition and team focus to win makes it tough. The course itself isn’t overly challenging but that makes it fast, and fast means competitive with athletes often side by side for a lot of the race. Combined with competing against the best triathletes in the military, you have to give 100% to keep ahead of the competition (The Royal Navy and RAF athletes for me). Also, the RAF has an elite sportsman in their ranks, means there’s always going to be someone to try to chase down!
What is your sporting ambition?
Short-term it would be to have the opportunity to be selected for an Army Elite Sportsman, but the competition is extremely fierce. In terms of racing I would like to enter some elite races towards the end of this year or next year. Longer-term, I know I’m better at longer-distance events so I’d like to go back to the Ironman 70.3, Ironman World Championships and compete for a podium position in the amateur rankings.
About the OA Inter-Services Triathlon
This year the triathlon is organised by the RAF Triathlon Association, and sponsored by the OA. The Army, Navy and RAF will compete at the annual event, in individual and team categories, including Male, Female and Veteran. In addition to the Armed Forces, the emergency services, the OA and guest teams will participate.
The OA sponsors the OA Inter-Services Triathlon to celebrate the high levels of physical fitness, mental determination and self-discipline that competing requires. These are qualities that will support Service leavers when they make a successful transition into civilian life.