On the face of it, cyclists and triathletes are cut from the same cloth. Experience tells me that's not true. Cyclists, the successful racers at least, are often like kids - thrill seekers who have to tame their wild sides and learn the dedication needed to succeed. Triathletes on the other hand just seem driven from the start - serious people with serious goals and a level of determination you don't find in many walks of life.

Wen I met Laura in Richmond Park at 11am on a dreary December morning, she was just about to embark on her second session of the day. She'd been in the pool first thing, and now she was about to get some miles in on the bike - a new Cervelo TT bike that she was still getting used to. We rode a couple of laps before I peeled off to let her get on with the serious business of interval training.

I suspect London-Athletic will be back to Richmond Park before too long - it really is one of London's greatest facilities, and a favourite training location for athletes from a huge range of sports.

Name: Laura Wise
Age: 30
Which area of London do you call home: South West
Sport: Triathlon

What came first - living in London or being an athlete? 
Being an athlete definitely came first… I think I was born wearing my trainers. My parents are sporty and I grew up spending a lot of time with two of my cousins Steve and Andy playing curby (some weird version of football), cricket and climbing trees which certainly toughened me up a little bit. It was my mum who taught me how to swim and she was a great teacher. I used to always win the races at school galas in every stroke, sometimes beating the boys which definitely put a smile on my face. I was slowly introduced into running, which over the years unequivocally became my favourite sport, and still is. I used to watch my mum competing too and as a young child I wore her medals around my neck and walked about singing ‘I am the champion’.

I moved to London just under two years ago but for some reason I cannot settle down in one place for long and I am always wondering where my next destination will be. The world is a big place and I want to see it. Competing in triathlons is certainly one way of seeing the world and visiting places you never thought you would travel to, but I would like to stay in places for a bit longer than a few days – I’m a bit of an explorer.

Where’s your favourite place to train in London?
I don’t have a favourite place to train in London, of course somewhere traffic free for cycling is always a bonus, so I would say Surrey Hills or out towards Kent – it’s safer, less polluted and there are more athletes training in those areas. As long as I have had a good session and come home in one piece or injury free it’s always enjoyable.

Where do you do the majority of your training?
I do the majority of my training alone, especially in the winter when the weather is bad. I’m lucky to have a turbo trainer at home so I can train in my bedroom. In the summer I would tend to go round Richmond Park on my bike after work whilst it is still light. Unfortunately I’m not rich enough to have my own private swimming pool so I do this at a local gym and glad to say that it’s a really good, clean pool with great facilities. I never run on the track so I run on the roads where I live or at the local park. I do my long rides with a group, it’s more entertaining and they help you when you ‘bonk’.

What’s your favourite memory of competing in London?
I entered the Virgin Active triathlon a few years ago which is a great event. I did a pretty good swim catching up some of the men in the sub 2:30 wave which started 3 minutes ahead of my wave and running past them in transition, hearing them shout at me ‘how do you swim so quick’ or ‘that’s unbelievable’ – I found it quite funny. Then I got on my bike and as soon as I had done about 3k I got knocked off scraping my face and bum along the tarmac, breaking my finger and bending my handle bars and derailleur so unfortunately I couldn’t continue. However, six days later I was competing again at the World Championships in Hyde Park for my age group and, of course, I wasn’t very confident racing with a broken finger but I really wanted to race. I lined up with my wave, got in the water and went for it. I ended up winning my age group with two fingers strapped together!

London is dirty, noisy, congested and full of distractions. Do you find it difficult to avoid those distractions and concentrate on training and competing?
I used to live in central London which most certainly isn’t the best place to train. It was difficult to run because you have to meander around people and stop to cross busy roads which of course jeopardises your focus on your session. Luckily, I moved to south west London and have found some great running routes and have easy access to Richmond Park which is great for cycling, and I have the Surrey Hills for long rides. One thing I miss about my home town is that there I am able to leave the house for a long bike ride and not see one traffic light for the whole duration – something which is unavoidable here in London. The stopping and starting can get a bit tedious, especially when it is cold weather and you want to get moving to keep warm.

What do you do for a living? And does your employer understand what you do as an athlete and allow you time to train?
I work for a commercial property development company in the west end. Usually I go swimming in the morning before work and arrive at my desk with wet hair to my bosses asking me if I have swum enough lengths. They are really great guys and I am grateful that they allow me the time off to train when I need. Sometimes I can increase my lunch time so that I can go to the gym or, if I have finished my work, they let me go home early so that I can get my evening training done and on Fridays I finish at 1pm. They also offered to pay my registration fee for my races – none of my previous employers have done that for me and that makes me work even harder as a way of saying thank you. They are also sporty so I suppose we all encourage each other.

Is it hard to balance work, family and your athletic career?
It is hard to work and train but working full time and getting up at 5:20 in the morning and being non-stop until 9 at night makes you feel like you are working harder to achieve your goals, which is satisfying even if it is tiring. I don’t get to see my family often, even if some relatives do live in London, but we do have contact most days.

If you were mayor for the day, what would you do to make life easier for athletes in London?
I would make sure that there were enough adequate venues to support each sport taking part in the Olympics. I would also try to work with businesses to get them supporting more athletes.

What’s the best athletic performance you’ve ever witnessed in London?
I simply adore Alistair Brownlee. He has so much guts and you can see it in his facial expression when he is racing. A person like that is what I call a real athlete. It was great to see him at the London Olympics and it was good planning by the course planners allowing the spectators to see the athletes more than once or twice as they lapped the course.

Which London based athletes do you most respect?
All of them. It’s not easy or cheap being an athlete and unfortunately it’s never safe riding a bike close to London with so much traffic.

If a fellow Londoner wanted to try your sport, how would you advise them to get started?Definitely join a triathlon or cycling club. Training with other people motivates you more and it is also a great way to meet like-minded people. There are so many clubs in London it’s not hard to find one within a mile radius. Being in a triathlon club also allows you to meet people who want to practise open water swimming which is a necessity for competing; open water swimming is very different to pool swimming.

Any sponsors/supporters/coaches/clubs you’d like to thank?
I would like to thank Simon Lamb from Six Seconds High, my sports masseur, he is really knowledgeable and I never feel rushed when having an appointment with him. I’m very grateful that he is there to try and keep me injury free. I would also like to thank Will Usher for his continuous encouragement with my training, thanks to him I am certainly getting stronger, so much so that I can see my muscles growing! And lastly, Il Sasso Cycling who provide cycling holidays in Italy. Jon Bateman, the owner, is a really great guy and he keeps me motivated on a daily basis.


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