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Book review: Dare to Tri by Louise Minchin

Looking at Louise Minchin on BBC Breakfast with her pristine blonde bob, professionally delivering the day’s news you would never imagine she spends her weekends flinging herself into lakes, hurtling down hills on a bike or running across the North West’s landscape.
But just check her Twitter feed and she really is the action woman we all want to be. Not only that she’s a mum to two girls and holds down one of the most high-profile news jobs on television.
Louise’s book Dare to Tri tells the story of how at 44, she fell in love with competing follow a cycling race with BBC Breakfast presenters at the velodrome in Manchester.
A friend then suggested she gave triathlon a go; this kicked off an adventure which led to her competing in the Great Britain team for her age category.
Dare to Tri is one of those books you start with a bit trepidation; oh no here goes another book about an over achieving super-woman who has it all.
But actually Louise’s story is a really honest account of juggling family life, negotiating the challenges of her job and the realities of the brutal training regime needed for triathlon.
She talks in detail about her struggles, including her nerves which get the better of her on more than one occasion; most notably when she locks herself in a portaloo before a race and has to be extracted by one of her daughters.
“I turn from being a supremely able, happy-to-lucky multitasker into a shambolic and chaotic scatterbrain.” She explains.
She also doesn’t shy away from how physically and mentally hard both the training and competing in each individual discipline is. Including getting bashed in the face during a swim and panicking in the water due to lack of visibility, falling off her bike numerous times and her struggle with running which she found the worst discipline of all.
One chapter lists the things that can go wrong in a triathlon – obviously taken from her own experiences. This includes putting her helmet on the wrong way around during transition, forgetting her sports bra and losing a contact lense in the swim. She always attaches one to her bike now should the same thing happen again.
There is no doubt what she achieves is amazing and other than her coach she is not surrounded by celebrity personal trainers and a herd of nutritionists and experts, she clearly achieves what she does through hard work, grit and determination.
She is quick to point out without the support of her family and her trusty Labrador Waffles she would not have enjoyed the success she has.
Louise’s book is both endearing and inspiring as well as being a practical guide on how to get started in triathlon and what pitfalls are along the way.
She shares her swim, run and bike times throughout each of her events which is a useful reference for anyone doing or thinking of doing triathlon.
Being a working mum myself with an enthusiasm for triathlon, I stand in awe at what she has done and this book ticked all the boxes for me; funny, informative and inspirational.
Dare To Tri is a great read, not just for triathlete wannabes in their 40s juggling kids and a job, but for anyone dreaming of a big challenge who  needs to take that first step.

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