Please give us a rundown on who you are and what you do?
I’m an Endurance Athlete, Surfer and Fireman. I love to challenge and push myself both mentally and physically with training so I accidentally got into the sport of off-road/ Xterra triathlon a couple of years ago, this also recently lead me to a late entry in the 2021 Coast to Coast (C2C), a 243km 1-day Multisport race which just took place at the start of February.
What does a typical (in season) day look like for you?
If i’m working a day shift my alarm goes off at 4:30am to either swim or take my dog for a run before I head to work for a 7am start. At each Fire Station there is a gym so i'm lucky enough to get an hour or more to work on some strength and conditioning. I have been known to take my wind trainer bike to work and get a cheeky bike workout in on my lunch break.
During the Coast to Coast build up my days off would consist of up to 3 sessions a day of around 5-6 hours in duration varying from Bike, Run, Bike or Run, Kayak, Bike all fuelled by coffee and large quantities of good food. To finish off the day i’ll jump in the ice bath to calm the mind, help reduce the sore muscles and inflammation before bed.
How do you keep health a priority while being so busy?
Health is key, without good health I wouldn’t be able to do half the things I do now. I break down my health into 3 areas, physical, mental and fuelling/digestive. If one of these is lacking and not well balanced I can’t expect to perform in training, racing or being a good human. Working full time in such a demanding job and trying to train like a professional athlete I know every little bit of recovery helps.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received that has helped you become the epic person you are today?
I can’t really remember anything specific, but my Mum has always believed in me and backed me with anything I’ve set out to do.Three quotes that have always stuck in my head when I’ve been doubting myself or had my back against the wall are:
Never take criticism from someone who you wouldn’t take advise from.
Its not the size of the dog in the fight its the size of the fight in the dog.
Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.
How important is it to have an epic support team to help with C2C?
Its crucial. Without the support team that I had I would not have finished the Coast to Coast race that day. Its almost a team event in a way and I was just the person doing each leg of the race.
I had 5 people come and support me for the race. Tomas Battersby and Dave Wood were official crew and they were the only ones able to help in the transition areas. My brother Antony was my Bike mechanic and Campervan driver. My girlfriend Juliet was in-charge of my pre determined Nutrition and Hydration plan and Mum was in-charge of everyone!
You sustained an injury while competing in C2C, how did you find the determination and strength to not call it a day?
Yeah, unfortunately I rolled my ankle about 5-6km into the off-trail mountain run stage then about 1km later I tripped and fell heavily on the rocks. I was pretty my unable to run freely or fully weight-bear for the remaining 25km up and over Arthurs pass.
I love to run and this was going to be my strongest leg of the event. It was a pretty tough 3hours before I got to the next transition. The thought of pulling out when I got there was constantly on my mind.
I said before the event that I was looking forward to the pain, suffering and dark places that I go to over the 243km, but this definitely wasn’t what I had in mind.
For the past 2 years with Dave Wood from Woodys Movement Workshop I’ve been training my mind and body to be comfortable in uncomfortable situations. We have been doing this with Breath Training, Ironsand Training, Ice Baths and Saunas. If I hadn’t have done all that I wouldn’t have finished the race. It gave me the ability to be calm under pressure and not be overwhelmed by the adverse situation that I was facing.
I had to remind myself constantly of the reason why I was there and who I was there with. I took a few minutes at the run to bike transition to assess and treat my injuries before pushing on.
You learnt to Kayak for this event, were you nervous about the river leg of the event? Haha
Yep that's true. I borrowed all of the equipment I needed from a couple of good blokes. My first ever time paddling in a river with rapids was to sit my grade2 certification was in October 2020 (a mandatory prerequisite for the coast to coast). I made the decision to travel down to Christchurch in January for 2 days to paddle Waimakriri river just so I wasn’t going into it blind.
So to answer the question yes I was nervous. I was going to be alone for 4.5-5 hours, injured, and fatigued in an extremely isolated and potentially dangerous environment that I wasn’t comfortable in. Fortunately for me I have been training exactly that and have the tools to remain calm and not waste unnecessary energy.
What is you main take away from the event that will fuel you for next year
If you don’t win you learn. I know I need to work on paddling technique and speed if I want to go close to 4 hours for the kayak leg. I know I need to train specifically over Goats pass for the Mountain run learning the fastest lines and how to run efficiently over rocks and boulders.
I know I can be competitive if luck is on my side, I remain injury free and have a good day.
What advice would you give any readers who want to follow in your footsteps?
Get out there and give it a go. Ask yourself questions about your body and mind. Learn from other people with experience. Leave excuses behind and commit fully.
What’s your favourite way to have any of our MBB products?
What’s your proudest moment so far?
No particular moment stands out, but I’d have to say I’m proud of the person I have become, the relationships I have with the important people in my life, how I conduct myself as a person and what I have achieved to date. I’m far from being perfect and have a lot to work on but that excites me about the future. The unknown potential of the man I will become.
What about your hardest moment, and how you dealt with it?
In 2019 I qualified for the Xterra (off-road Triathlon) World Champs in Maui. I had a great race finishing 1st in my age group and 3rd Amateur athlete overall. Naturally I was stoked with this result and was on a massive high. Within 20min of finishing I had an official come up to me and tell me that I could potentially be disqualified or receive a time penalty for wearing a “swimskin” that contained neoprene. Having only done a few of these events in the past I was completely unaware of the rules regarding what you are allowed to wear with the warm water swim. An hour later I learnt I would receive a 10min time penalty which they added to my swim time sending me a long way down the finishing order and costing me the tile of World Champ in my age group.
Initially I didn’t deal with it very well and unfortunately for my Mother who travelled to Hawaii to sport me I wasn’t a nice person to be around. For me at the time finishing 1st in my age group quantified how much I had put into the previous year. It was hard to accept that months of hard work and sacrifice would go unrecognised.
I had to take a step back and look at what I had achieved on a greater scale, I went into that event with zero expectations of how I would go in terms of a result. The only thing I wanted to achieve during that race was to test my limits both physically and mentally by pushing myself as hard as I could. I believe I did that and that can’t be quantified by a time or placing next to your name.
I love to compete and win, but you can do both those things within your comfort zone.
Finally, what’s your fav adventure spot in New Zealand?
That has to be Piha and Wanaka. Both for completely different reasons, but as equally amazing.
*Disclaimer I am not sponsored by Mitchells Nutrition. I pay for my products like everyone else. I reached out to Rob a year after I started taking them to say thanks, how good I’ve been feeling and how I have benefited from taking Bone Broth and Collagen.
Keep up to date with Jamie on IG @jamiepiggins