Cringleford Ironman competitor joe skipper is at the top of his game, with a fantastic year of results behind him despite a big injury. But that’s not enough, now he wants the British record!
How did you get into Ironman?
I got into Ironman whilst at university in Manchester. It was back in 2010 and at the time I was just cycling and fancied a new challenge. The Ironman always appealed to me as it just seemed like such a crazy challenge swimming 2.4 miles, cycling 112 miles, and running a marathon.
I competed in half Ironman races throughout 2011 and my first Ironman in 2012 at challenge Barcelona, where I came fifth overall and recorded the seventh fastest time ever by a British athlete.
What’s been the highlight of your Ironman Career so far?
I’ve had lots of big highlights over the last year as it really has been a massive breakthrough period. The following results really stick out.
I came second at the North American Championships in Texas where I led the race until late in the marathon against some of the best athletes in the world. I also managed to get third place in the World Long Distance Championships in Sweden. It was a great experience to represent my country at a world championships and to come away with a medal.
More recently, I took second place in Ironman New Zealand in March. This was a huge result for me as I managed to record a time of eight hours nine minutes, which was the third fastest time ever by a British athlete over the distance.
Nine weeks before the race I had a big crash on my bike while out training which resulted in me breaking my collarbone. At the time this race was in doubt and I didn’t actually think I would make it to the start line, so to be able to do a good performance really was a massive highlight and it showed me that anything is possible if you really want it to be!
What’s coming up Next?
I am targeting Challenge Roth in Germany on July 17, where I aim to break the British record and become the first British athlete to go under eight hours.
Next up is Challenge Fuerteventura on April 23, then I’ll race challenge Salou on May 29, Staffordshire 70.3 on June 12, and Challenge Galway on June 26.
As well as these races I’ll also be doing local running and cycling races to tune up.
What’s your biggest motivation?
My biggest motivation is to break the British Ironman record in July, which I am sure I can do if I can keep my training consistent and get onto the start line fit and healthy.
Looking further ahead I want to win the world championships in Kona, it’s where Ironman all began and I want to stand on the top step of the podium!
Any Low Points?
The lowest points for me have been financial ones when I have really struggled to keep afloat and have had to be bailed out by my parents.
At times I have definitely questioned whether to keep going or to stop and get a “proper job”. I think a lot of people go through this stage as it gets to a point where you’re on the fringes of making it, but not quite there.
I think it comes down to a few things, what support you have in place and whether or not you believe in yourself. Luckily for me my parents always encouraged me and never doubted me and I believed in myself as well. I always knew I could compete with the best in the world.
The other low point was breaking my collarbone at the end of December as it didn’t look good at first and there was the possibility of me missing most of the season due to surgery. When I saw the doctor two weeks post surgery he said he had never seen anyone recover so quickly from an injury of that extent, and he would have been pleased with the amount of mobility I had three months post surgery, let alone two weeks after the crash!
Do you train around Cringleford and, if so, where?
I do a lot of my training around Cringleford. For swimming I swim at the UEA a lot. For my cycle training I will ride further a field as I wouldn’t fancy riding laps of Cringleford for 60-100 miles. Sometimes I ride to the north Norfolk coast; that’s probably my favourite place to ride to, with a coffee stop at Byfords in Holt.
I do a lot of running around Cringleford. My steady runs will generally be around the university grounds as it’s off road so better for your joints and it makes it harder work, plus the scenery is stunning.
For harder sessions I do them either at Eaton Park, or I have a little loop which is 2.1 miles which I use. It starts at the car park at the end of Colney Lane/Roundhouse Way, you then head down Roundhouse Way, up Dragonfly Lane, then towards the A11 where you run along the slip road and back up Colney Lane, finishing at the ballads at the start of the car park.
My best time round the loop is 10 minutes 10 seconds if you fancy giving it a go!
How did it feel to be on the cover of 220 Triathlon Magazine last year?
It was great to be on the front cover of 220 as it was a magazine I used to read as a child. Seeing all the top athletes in the magazine used to really inspire me to want to do well, so to be able to get the opportunity was great and shows that I am being recognised for my consistent good results.
Any advice for those thinking of getting into Triathlons?
Definitely get stuck in and give it a go, there’s a great atmosphere at all the events with everyone being friendly and encouraging!
In Norwich there’s a triathlon club called Tri Anglia which is a good club to get in contact with if you are interested.
Visit Joe’s website at www.joeskipper.co.uk. You can also find him on Twitter and Facebook.
Picture: 220 Triathlon/Remy Whiting