Out of exile – by Alex Hobley
Alex Hobley writes from England on on how he got involved with WITC, triathlon and coming back for the Club Challenge event in September. We hope to see you again soon Alex!!
On 22nd September, 2013 I was back in Warsaw for the WITC Club Challenge event. I had been eagerly waiting for this race for a while, although my involvement with the club goes back much further. How I first found out about WITC still remains a mystery to me. I first heard of it, I think, through Facebook and received a number of messages about a group meeting to go on Saturday morning bike rides in the spring of 2011.
I didn’t think much of it until one day when I was showing my parents around Warsaw I saw a bunch of sweaty guys in lycra cycling at pace through Powisle and realised that those Facebook messages weren’t based on a fictitious group of athletes but that actually something exciting was forming in Warsaw. Earlier that year I had rekindled my passion for running by taking part in the March 2011 Warsaw half marathon with a few friends. Between the age of 10-17 I was obsessed with running and would travel all-round the UK competing with my club. After a few years of frustrating injuries, aged 18, I decided to hang up my running shoes. The injuries were really getting me down, I had become sick of athletics club politics and was spending far too much time on my physio’s table. With a heavy heart I put to bed all my crazy ambitions of being a top runner and filled that hole in my life with a variety of other interests for a good number of years. My friends and I took part in the Warsaw half that year just to give us a reason to stay fit that winter. After running a surprisingly fast time off not much training I was pleased that I finished the race injury-free and my running ambitions started to come back again.
My friend and I then thought we’d step it up a gear and do the Warsaw marathon that autumn. Then in steps WITC. By this point there were a steady number of WITC runners meeting each Saturday morning for long runs. It was exactly what I needed – people to do long runs with and a good social vibe making the training actually good fun. So that summer I did a number of long runs with the club running distances I had never done before and had a good laugh in the process. On marathon day however I was to learn a hard lesson – don’t underestimate marathon training and don’t you fool your body (haha!) I didn’t train properly for it; too many holidays and not enough running. After cruising through the first 20km I suddenly could feel this pain building up the in the tendons behind my left knee. The next few hours were some of my most humbling ever as I literally hobbled to the finish line with a leg that wouldn’t bend at the knee. Ask Alan Parsons for a demonstration of how I looked – it’s pretty funny. The next 7 months were a wipe out again as I couldn’t do any kind of strenuous activity on my left leg.
My best memories with the club are all about summer 2012. Ken Globerman thought everyone needed a good laugh at the club swimming coaching sessions so he got me down to show everyone how not to swim. The Zalew cup was another hilarious highlight – as Tristan’s camera skills managed to capture – with me clutching onto an inflatable buoy midrace as I caught my breath. I learnt the importance that day of warming up before doing a swimming race. Jokes aside the club literally inspired and prepared me to take up triathlon as a sport – something I’d never done before.
My time in Warsaw came to a close at the end of the summer as I was moving back to the UK. It was really sad to leave the club behind with its well-organised training sessions and wonderful club members who are a pleasure to be around. Having spent a lot of time within sports clubs I always think it’s so important to have the right mix of good quality training mixed with a thriving social scene where athletes actually want to spend time with each other. The time and energy put into something is all the more worth it when you are doing it around great like-minded people. As with most things I think it’s often not about the end result but the actual process you go through to get there. The social element to WITC, for me, is what sets it apart from other athletics groups and makes it unique.
Once I returned to the UK my training was very up and down. Injuries returned, my motivation waned as I was focused on finding a job and settling back here. Thankfully things sorted themselves out and I completed a half-ironman at the beginning of the summer which I was delighted about. Again it was another milestone reached that would never have happened without being involved with WITC.
It was a fantastic feeling getting back on the start line with WITC last week at the club challenge with ERGO. We were all disappointed to not win but glad we gave it our all. I am definitely looking forward to doing another event in the future and I expect the club to keep continually growing.
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