Our Brand Ambassador Yiannis Christodoulou shares his inspiring story on how he started running - and eventually qualified to compete for the Great Britain Aquathlon Team...
Little did I know that when I took up running nearly 5 years ago and could only swim 6 lengths of a 33 meter swimming pool in an hour this journey would lead me up to competing for Great Britain for my age group. Since then I have achieved one Silver medal and two Bronze medals. I am nearly 34 years old and work full time as a Performance Analyst for the NHS. I am no spring chicken; I only started running in 2012. I was inspired by the London 2012 Olympics to do something, which encouraged me to join my local running club, the Canterbury Harriers.
I didn’t train that regularly until the following year so progress wasn’t quick. I knew if I practiced I could be a lot better and ended up focusing on that. I knew I was never going to be the fastest in my area or club but I could get close. In 2013, I competed in local triathlons but ended up injuring my calf where I struggled for 7 months on and off so I became a coach for my club. The following year I was competing again in triathlons but injured my achilles and thought I wouldn’t be able to run again. I first started running in 2012 and after watching the Olympics, I was inspired to try a triathlon, after running was no longer challenging enough.
In 2015 I was in the process of getting married but didn’t have the time to train for triathlons so I decided to go into aquathlons, as I am an okay swimmer and runner. This road led me to qualifying for the GB Aquathlon Team in 2016 for my Age group, I was so excited and didn’t know what to expect. I raced the National Aquathlon championships in Leeds a few weeks before and I came 3rd in my Age group. I was over the moon when I received the bronze medal and this was my first big race, next up was the European Championships in France where I was shocked at my great performance, finishing 3rd in my age group. As a result, I ended up going to Mexico for the World Championships - a whole new experience.
This season came round fast, and sadly, I got injured at the wrong time. I competed at the European Championships in Bratislava and was 9th in my age group. Two weeks after this race was the Nationals again in Leeds, and an old injury flared up and I had limited run time that month so I didn’t know if I could make the start line a few days before the race. I certainly didn’t expect to do well. But to my surprise, I had a great race and came in 2nd in my age group. Which goes to show you should never give up! Next stop for me will be the World Championships in Penticton in a few days.
I believe no matter your ability, if you work hard at anything in life you will be rewarded. My result at the European Championships 2017 was the target before my injury. I had to change my target and aims and I see this as a success as it got me to the start line race fit, and I was able to be very determined to never give up.
I like to help and inspire others. Therefore, I contacted IAMRUNBOX last year regarding sponsorship, because I like the concept and I would like to see them grow. IAMRUNBOX is a backpack in which you can carry all your stuff while running to work. So do I run commute? Well, I drive to work as my workplace is too far to run. However, I always use my IAMRUNBOX when running to the gym, which is roughly 2 miles away from my house. I like the concept of IAMRUNBOX, as well as its features and design, and I sense it is something that can be very popular with the runners in England.
IAMRUNBOX has helped me to not be lazy and drive the two miles to the swimming pool. Now, I am able to put my things in the box (backpack) and jog there instead. This has helped me immensely, as I am able to get extra mileage and some easy run time in my legs that way. The fact the backpack has plenty of room is a plus (and I have the Lite version!), for me it's about carrying my gym and swimwear. For commuters this would be even more appealing as you can easily and neatly pack your work outfit in the box, and when you take them out they are good as new.
My IAMRUNBOX has been very useful for my training preparation for the European Aquathlon Championships. The brand is still very new and I am sure it will continue to grow as the word spreads.
My focus now is preparing for the World Aquathlon Championships in Canada in a few days and in the months leading up to it, I have been working to get into my best shape possible.
Thank you for all your support!
Photography: Jason Dodd