From a Red Sofa to Norseman - Norseman

From a Red Sofa to Norseman

BBC Presenter Louise Minchin gave up competitive sport at age 15 because she didn’t like the way she looked. Thirty years later, she’s raced in several Triathlon World Championships and has done two extreme triathlons. Here’s how triathlon changed her life.

Published: 27.Apr.2020

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Our guest in this episode will brighten up your day, motivate you to train, and will have you reminiscing on all of your wonderful memories of adventures, challenges, and races!

You may know her from the UK’s most-watched morning TV program, Breakfast on BBC One, or perhaps you’ve seen her achieve super-tough challenges for charity.

Our incredible guest today is non other than the brilliant Louise Minchin!

In this short episode you’ll learn four key things:

  • Louise’s return journey into sports, from the BBC Breakfast sofa to Team GB Triathlon
  • Why Louise took on Patagonman and Norseman
  • Louise’s epic Norseman experience
  • How Louise is helping break the barriers between women and sport

Adelaide: Hello Louise Minchin! It is so wonderful to have you on Norseman Radio!

Louise: How lovely to see you Adelaide, it brings back good memories because the last time I saw you, I had just finished Norseman and that was honestly one of the most exciting moments of my whole life. So it’s lovely to see you again!

Adelaide: Thank you and I’m so excited to relive the Norseman experience with you from the confines of our home!

Louise: Absolutely, you join me in my kitchen. I’ve got the teenagers here in the kitchen who are just making their breakfast. We’ve got one dog lying down, so hopefully it’ll be quiet but yeah, we’re in our own homes, because obviously we have to be.

Adelaide: Yes, especially over Easter and I’m jealous your daughters are having hot cross buns!

Louise: I know somebody’s hot cross buns, I might have to have one in a minute as they smell so delicious!

Adelaide: I think they’re one of the best things about Easter, that and chocolate!

Louise: I know, I’m looking forward to them too! I have got a supply of Easter eggs, which I bought because obviously we’ve been locked down in the UK for three weeks on Monday and I think kind of early on I realised that Easter could be a problem. So we’ve got our eggs in early and I’ve hidden them somewhere, so most people don’t know where they are!

Adelaide: Amazing, that was so smart! Okay, so let’s dive straight in, would you please tell us who you are and what you do in the world today?

Louise: Okay, so I am Louise Minchin, if you are listening from the UK, you probably know me as one of the presenters of BBC Breakfast, which I’ve been presenting, for gosh, I think it’s coming up to the eighth anniversary of me presenting it. I can’t believe how time has flown actually.

So yeah, BBC Breakfast is the most watched morning television programme in the UK. It’s usually on from 6 until 9:15 a.m. But obviously, there have been so many changes. We are still on from 6 till 9 a.m. every day and I normally work Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. And obviously that continues, because I am, I mean, I’ve never thought of this before now, but I’m a key worker, because somebody needs to tell everybody what’s going on. And that’s my job. So I continue to go to work while most people are working from home, which seems sort of an extraordinary position to be in.

I feel lucky that I can continue doing my job, but it is strange to sort of do the opposite of what you’re telling everybody, to stay at home. But obviously I can’t stay at home three days a week, but I do the rest of the time.

Adelaide: It is a weird world we’re now living in.

Louise:  It is really, you know, I think everybody has their own difficulties. And obviously, some people are extremely badly affected with people that they love who’ve got this horrific disease.

If you told me when we when I met you at Norseman, that nine months later, we’d be in a position where the cinemas and pubs are closed, you can’t go and have a haircut, you have to queue to go to the supermarket, we would have to stay home to save lives, I genuinely would not have believed you. I would not have believed that was possible or necessary in our lifetime, but it is, that’s our reality. We need to just get through it in the best way that we possibly can.

Louise & BBC Breakfasts report from Norseman 2019

Adelaide: I’m totally with you, especially when you’re in that kind of amazing landscape as well, it seems unimaginable that something awful like this could happen.

Louise:  It’s very interesting, because I’m doing a podcast that we’ll talk about as well, where I’m talking about exercise and sport and how good it is for you, and particularly with women, and I’m loving doing that, because it gives me an excuse to go back to those beautiful memories that I have in my life and Norseman is in the top three of those memories that I’ve had of doing extreme sport. It really kind of shook me up, shook up my soul in a brilliant way.

I just can’t believe how different things are now, but having those memories like Norseman, as literally part of my DNA, you can go back and think about these incredible things that you’ve done in your life and be grateful for them. And now, one day, hopefully we’ll be able to do them again, but I’m so grateful that I did Norseman last year, I feel incredibly privileged to have done it.

Adelaide: We’re going to talk about Norseman very soon, but first, I’d love to know, how did you start your journey into triathlon?

Louise: I was about 44 and I had two kids, and obviously I’ve still got them, and I did a bit of sport. So I kind of went to the gym maybe twice a week, probably did a spin class, trying to keep fit, and I used to cycle to work and this is what’s really funny when we come to talk about Norseman. I used to cycle to work, I thought it was quite far – it was 6 miles!

And this is the shame of it, I would basically only do the journey one way, so I’d like cycle to work and then take my bike on the train back or take the train to work and put my bike on and cycle home! I mean, just honestly looking back, it seems extraordinary! So I was a sort of a very, very part time exerciser.

And then I moved up here and I say up here, because we live in the NorthWest and BBC Breakfast comes out of Salford, which is right near Manchester and we did a Christmas challenge, the presenters raced against each other on bikes in the velodrome in Manchester.

I had never even sat on a racing bike. So you know, got on the bike and they have no brakes and it’s a fixed wheel, so when you stop, your feet still whiz round and you’re on this extraordinary sloping velodrome on the track.

I literally did the first round and screamed because it was terrifying.

I did the second one and was like, ‘Oh, you know what, this is kind of fun.’

Did the third one and I was like, ‘Yeah, I’m in!’

And then we did the race and it was so great.

So not only had I never sat on a racing bike, they wanted us to race in front of 4,000 people. I’m a bit nervous talking about it now, and on race night, I was racing with my co-presenter called Charlie Stayt against the other two presenters, one of whom was called Bill Turnbull.

Bill said early on in that day, ‘Well, there’s one thing that’s not going to happen to me. I’m not going to be beaten by a girl.’

When I set off, I obviously had quite a few things that were going on in my mind, but that was kind of at the top. I set off with this determination and I’d just kind of forgotten that I had it. So I set off and I beat him by half a second.

On that finishing line, I had this massive buzz of adrenaline and excitement and a sense of achievement and all the rest of it, and I got off that bike and was like, ‘Wow, I forgot how much I love competitive sport.’ because I gave it up when I was 15. I was a good swimmer and I gave it up, because I didn’t like my massive shoulders.

So I literally had given up sport.

I’ve got two gorgeous teenage girls and I gave up at their age, something which I loved. I was passionate about it and literally 30 years later, I hadn’t done anything. I just got off that bike going, ‘Wow. Oh my gosh, I forgot how much I love to race. I’m gonna buy myself a bike.’

I bought myself a bike and my husband was like, ‘You’re never gonna ride that bike.’ He couldn’t believe I spent the money, as I bought the Lycra, the shoes and the cleats, the whole and much to his surprise, got on the bike, loved the bike and then long story cut quite quite short, a friend of mine said to me, ‘I’ve seen you cycling and I’ve seen you running, why don’t you try a triathlon?’

At that point, I was like, What do I know about triathlon? And there’s a couple of brothers who are pretty good at it called the Brownlees, and I think it involves running, swimming and cycling, but please note, I’ve got them in the wrong order because I didn’t know what order you did them!

I did my first triathlon in 2013 and again, just loved it, loved the training, loved the exhilaration.

I had a panic attack in the swim, which I thought that was my best sport, but I was basically in and that’s it.

Yeah, so that was 2013 and I’m still doing them now, but I’ve kind of taken a bit more extreme from a sprint triathlon!

Adelaide: How did you go from a sprint triathlon to Norseman?

Louise: There were a few leaps in it.

The first leap was when I did that first sprint triathlon. I didn’t realise that you got judged against your age group. So I think I came about seventh or something in my age group. And I was like, well, that’s cool. I did a few more and then started coming like maybe fourth in my age group. And then I’d seen all these people wearing the tri suits with their name and GBR, and I worked out that you could go to the World Championships and European Championships, if you qualified in your age group. I just thought, ‘That looks amazing!’.

So I didn’t tell anybody for a while that I was going to try and qualify in my age group for a World Championships, and honestly, when I told my coach, she was just like, Do you realise what you’ve got to do?

I knew I had a lot to do, because the only thing I could possibly qualify in at that point was swimming. I worked really, really hard and qualified to go to the World Championships in Chicago

in 2015, which was super cool!

I did quite a few actually, which sounds ridiculous. Looking back, I think I’ve done five World Championships now. They were Olympic distances and what I do now, because I’m really not very good at the running, I do this thing called Aquabike and some people don’t think it’s a real sport, but I think it is. So I do the swim and the bike without the run. I’ve actually have qualified again for the World Championships, which are meant to be in September and who knows if that’ll happen.

So I did the World Championships and I really, really loved it. But then I was coming up to 50 and I thought, ‘Well, you know, I’ve done quite a lot of this triathlon and I’ve really enjoyed it, but maybe I’ll do something a bit different. Then I saw a little tweet going Patagonman.

And that was that, because way back, when I left University, I’d lived in Patagonia in Chile for six months, working as a translator for what’s called Raleigh International, in this tiny little place in like the deepest, darkest Patagonia.

So I looked up this tweet and would you believe it, but this extreme triathlon was happening in the tiny town that I had spent six months! This is a message and again, I didn’t tell anybody that I’d applied for the lottery to win a place. Four weeks later, I got a place, so then had to tell everybody, that I was going to do an extreme triathlon!

Again, I hadn’t quite realised what it entailed and not only that, but it was sort of 6,000 miles away, but I was so excited. The longest triathlon I’d done was an Olympic distance and that’s a 1,500 metre swim, 40km bike and 10 km run, and Xtri is a 3.8km swim, 180km bike and then your run marathon, and there’s lots of elevation on the bike, and there’s the small thing about jumping off the ferry in the dark into a Chilean fjord, which wasn’t just Chilean, it was very, very chilly, in which orcas swim in quite a lot too!

The other thing about Patagonman is that it is in December and in the UK, most triathlons happen between May and September, and nobody’s training until December!

It was really, really exciting, a huge adventure and I had to train really hard, but one of the things I had to do was train for the cold water.

I’ve got like a blow up hot tub at home, which I filled with water and from November till December, I didn’t heat it. I’d just get in, no wetsuit or anything, and I think it down to eight degrees, and I’d just sit in there for as many minutes as I possibly could, because that was one of the things that worried me the most was, acclimatising to the really cold water, because that’s a big game changer.

It genuinely worked too! . Oh my gosh, it just takes me back, because it was very nerve wracking getting on that ferry in the dark. I think there was about 250 of us doing Patagonman and the one thing I knew is that I don’t want to get cold, I don’t want to get cold, I don’t want to get cold.

There were all these brave people being sprayed with water and I was like, I’m not going to do that. I left it right to the end to get in. I was such a fool. So I think I was one of the last 20 people to get in and I literally jumped in and I resurfaced to hear them going, three, two, one and it looked like the start was 200m away! It wasn’t 200m away, but the people in front of me at the start of the race looked so far away! So I wasn’t even at the start when the start started. It was fine and I had an incredible swim. I think what happened was, because they all started, I could clearly see where the current was and I could see where they were going, so I just basically took a straight route!

Adelaide: That sounds amazing! Just out of curiosity, have you come across the Wim Hof Method?

Louise: I keep being told to look it up, but I haven’t yet, even though people swear by it! And actually, just to mention something, one of my other pet subjects as well, I’ve talked quite a lot about menopause on breakfast and menopausal women absolutely swear by cold water. I’m not saying I don’t like it, but I’ve not found that it cures that to be honest with you!

Adelaide: So you did Patagonman…

Louise:  Patagonman was epic and awesome and really incredibly hard, the marathon was beautiful and completely isolated, climbing over these hills with glacial lakes. It was epic, but very, very hard.

Adelaide: And on Patagonman, you also have a support team with you?

Louise: Yeah, Patagonman is a bit like Noreseman, which I know we’re going to come to, you have your support team and you’re only allowed one supporter and that was my amazing husband. He was in charge of looking after me.

On the route, I think there was one place where we had an official stop on the bike, where they could give us water and just check the bike.

On the run, they had aid stations at 10km and 20km and that was it. All the rest of the time, my support David, my husband, would have to look after me.

But it was quite complicated, because there was only certain places on the bike he could stop and get to me. When I came out of the swim, he could help me and then he could help me about 45km on the bike. There was an official stop at 90km and then there was another stop at 135km.

It was very trying, because I was on my own for many hours and particularly on the run as well. 10km over that kind of territory with nothing was beautiful and it wasn’t even him at 10km, it was just two people standing there with some water and nutrition. Honestly, it shook me up in a brilliant way. It was an amazing thing to do.

It’s an absolute wish list race. It’s a long way and the logistics are complicated, but the scenery was just mind blowing, literally mind blowing.

Louise: The Chileans were incredible too. I sort of got adopted because I didn’t have David my husband, but along this road there was this Chilean family, who’s son was just slightly behind me. So they were stopping every 10km and and by the end of the of the 180km bike ride, they were cheering me and honestly I missed them on 110km, and on the next one I was like, ‘Where have you been? I’ve missed you so much!’

And then they waited for me on the run. So your support is allowed to meet you at 30Km on the run and they waited an hour and a half to see me!

So you get adopted by people, it was beautiful, so beautiful.

Adelaide: It just sounds fantastic! So once you’d done this incredible race that is Patagonman, which is one of Norseman’s sister races, is that when you decided to do Norseman?

Louise: The reason I do this is to be out in incredible environments. I live near Wales and I did loads of my training in the hills of Wales and also cycling through Wales and all the rest of it and I’ve got incredible open water here as well.

So for me it becomes more about the sport and less about racing and more about the kind of immersive experience in a beautiful world and it makes me feel tiny and insignificant, but also really proud that my two little legs can get me however many miles it is in one day.

So I came back and was buzzing, but literally buzzing for about two and a half months. I’d wake up in the morning and go, am I still buzzing? Oh yeah, so I am myself!’

Patagonman just had this huge long term kind of brilliant impact on my enthusiasm and happiness levels.

But Norseman is the jewel in the crown of the Xtri and it’s a legendary race. I just thought I would really love it if I could do Norseman. At that point, I was just seeing if I could get a place and I did!

I did Patagonman in December and Norseman was in August, so there wasn’t really a kind of downtime between the two. Having done Patagonman, I had a pretty good idea of what the challenge was. However, we just loved Norway so much.

We were incredibly lucky, because when we arrived there Norway was in the middle of a heatwave and it was so beautiful. Eidfjord was just deliciously beautiful and because it was so hot there, were all these waterfalls just coming off these beautiful mountain sides and we just absolutely fell in love with it, we really, really did.

What I’ve learned to do is enjoy these things more, rather than ride race go home. We went out quite a few days beforehand, just to kind of take in it and just absolutely stunning, stunning place that part of the world is so beautiful.

There were also these tunnels that we had no idea about! We were driving there and just going through these endless tunnels and then of course, you realise that on Norseman you’re not going to be going through the tunnels, you can go over them!

There was so much I loved about it, and it’s one of my top 10 moments in my life. So you get on that ferry and you’ve seen all the pictures of the ferry and it is as terrifying as it looks.

I love Norseman’s new catch line ‘This is not for you.

I remember looking at it a few months beforehand going, ‘Oh gosh, maybe they’re right. Maybe it isn’t.’

So the ferry ride is really scary. You go out in the dark and all the rest of it and then you sort of turn around and there’s all these different people. Everybody takes it in a different way, they’re the people who are kind of silent and macho. And then there’s me and Lucy Gossage! Luckily both of us are affected in the same, I mean mine is definitely nerves, I think hers is more excitement actually, but we get sort of jittery and chatty and all the rest of it and everybody else is like looking at us like these women are absolutely mad. Yes, is the answer!

I learned my lesson and I didn’t get in last. I think I got in just after Lucy. The swim is just so beautiful, you’re swimming alongside the coastline and it’s a long way in the dark and you look up and you see the whites of the mountains,  the top of the glaciers and all the rest of it.

I was swimming alongside someone and I didn’t know who it was, I knew it was a woman and we were swimming, literally stroke for stroke together, and this sounds a bit silly, but you get all these really macho men who at the beginning go off really hard and then they get really tired, and then she and I were just overtaking people slowly together, overtaking, overtaking and I remember there was this moment where we turn around the corner and I could see the bonfire and honestly it was one of the my most incredible moments of my life, it sends goosebumps down my arms right now thinking about it.

Just thinking ‘oh my gosh, that’s so beautiful, and I can see the bonfire so that means I’m going to make it’. But I was trying to tell her, because she plainly couldn’t see it, but you can’t communicate in the water!

And then of course you have the bike! I really, really loved the swim and then the bike. I think the first hill, I mean, it’s massive, isn’t it? I don’t know how far it is in distance, but basically, it took me two and a half hours. You’re pretty much climbing from the swim and there’s this wonderful bit where you go on this old road, and it’s really, really steep and by that point, all the really mature men, who I’ve overtaken in the swim, who are clearly much stronger than me, come faster and overtake me!

The bike was incredible.

There was a bit of a confusion, because my support, who were my husband and my dad, missed the first place that we were going to meet, because it took them a long time to get through the tunnels. That was a bit devastating, because you’re thinking at this point, at two and a half hours I need some more food, and I’m a little bit cold, because you’re on the top of the plane and the mist had come down, and it was quite scary and like how I miss them, if they miss me, am I ever going to see them again?

Luckily I did eventually meet them and they gave me some more clothes, mostly coffee I think! But your support is so much part of it. Without them you literally can’t do it, but it’s also psychologically getting to that point, because we were quite disciplined about meeting and it was just absolutely wonderful to see them. Brilliant.

I really love the idea that you have to work as a team. My husband is thankfully  incredibly organised when it comes to it. I literally arrived and he had everything lined up. We made masses of sandwiches, and he’s like, what kind of sandwich do you want or do you want a Snickers bar? It’s brilliant was so lovely, lovely.

Adelaide: What was your absolute highlight?

Louise:  I think my highlight of Norseman was seeing the bonfire, because the bonfire is part of the Norseman legend and seeing that and going it’s all going to be okay.

I wasn’t in my wildest dreams going to make it to the top of the mountain, as I am just not strong enough on the bike to make up the kind of time I needed to be there. So I knew way back in the run, that I wasn’t going to be one of the ones going to the top of the mountain.

And then you get the the cut-off point where you turn left and they go, ‘Oh, no, you can’t go to the mountain’, but I knew that, so I wasn’t at all disappointed.

There are these incredible athletes who are doing that. So we go left and by that time, I’ve done Zombie Hill, which is very aptly named.

I don’t think anybody, maybe three or four athletes run up it, but after the cut-off point and you’ve turned left, you go to the car park outside the hotel, and I’m underselling it here on purpose, because in my head, and don’t get me wrong everybody it is utterly brilliant, but in my head this is the walk of shame. You have to literally finish the marathon by going 11 times around it.

But it was utterly brilliant! Dag, the race manager, met me there and there’s all these other wonderful people who are part of the Norseman family. Dag walked with me round a lap, my husband walked round all the laps, and there was this amazing atmosphere and everybody is chatting to you, and you can hear the music going off every time another person goes over the finishing line, and I know that my friends were all watching at home on the app or whatever it was, thinking I was having a terrible time, but I wasn’t, I was having a terrible time!

I think at that stage, you’ve nearly completed an absolutely epic challenge and the atmosphere Norseman creates is really wonderful and really supportive. So in some ways, that was also a highlight and there’s these brilliant pictures of me, because David, my husband, met me nearly three quarters of the way up Zombie Hill and he walked with me and obviously he’s had an exhausting day, because he’s had to be juggling everything and driving all these miles, and there are these pictures of me striding along, looking really strong and he looks like he’s done a 12Km walk and that makes me laugh!

Louise, David and Norseman founder Hårek Stranheim.

And it was amazing to get almost to the end of an awesome distance and it was very challenging because of the heat!

I also remember the hills just going on and on and on, and there’s like three epic hills at the end and I remember getting to the top of that hill and I had my BBC camera crew with me and they were so worried about me, because they knew that it was massive. It’s right towards the end of the ride and grown men were apparently getting off their bikes and crying at the top of this hill, and they knew that and they’re like, ‘Oh my gosh, she’s going to be in bits and I came up, I think I was delirious, as I got off the hill and I was laughing my head off. Mostly because I’d done it!

I was going very, very slowly, but I hadn’t got off my bike and I had not been defeated by it. I knew that it was the last hill and so they thought I was just absolutely mad, I was just laughing my head off.

But the temperature at the start of the run was crazy. It was not something I’d trained for, because I was going to Norway, why would you train for excessive heat?! I became quite ill quite quickly at about 12km on the run, but luckily, I managed to sort of recover from it and just keep going. So I forgot all about that. That was really tough actually.

Adelaide: And talking about the toughness and the mentality of it, because you break mentally before you break physically, was there a low point for you in Norseman?

Louise: Apart from that moment when I was broken, I won’t tell you what went on, I was fine. I never had a low moment. I genuinely and it’s really extraordinary, because it’s not often that happens, but I genuinely loved every single minute of that race, every minute.

It was tough, but I think because I done Patagonman and because I was so looking forward to Norseman, and I wasn’t trying to get to the top of the mountain, for me, it was about managing to finish and managing to finish with a smile on my face.

I genuinely I just loved it so much.

I can’t even begin to explain how much I loved every single second of it.

And it’s now sustaining me in our times COVID-19 where I can’t go swimming and all the others things I love to do.

But those memories of that day, one of the things that makes me think it’s all going to be okay, one day we’ll be able to do that kind of thing again.

Adelaide: That’s so special and really great to hear that you had such a wonderful time on the course as well.

Louise: Honestly, I’ve talked about the Norseman family and they could not have been more encouraging, more supportive, and more generous with their time and energy. They’re brilliant, wonderful people.

Adelaide: Thank you so much, the Norseman family is something really special!

Moving on from Norseman and connecting with what you said earlier about when you were 15, you decided to stop swimming, because now you’re involved in this really amazing project, which we touched upon at the very, very beginning, called Her Spirit.

Louise: The idea behind Her Spirit is to pass on the message that sport is an incredible thing. For me, it’s a form of medicine. It makes me physically feel better. I mean, so much better. I’m so much stronger and have more energy than I did before I started this journey.

Both physically and mentally, it’s made me much, much stronger and much happier. Every single bike ride, every single run, every single swim, makes me feel better. So for me, it’s about trying to encourage women, like my 15 year old self, who thinks it’s not for me, I don’t like the way it makes me feel, I’m embarrassed by the way it makes me look, I don’t want to do it, It’s too much hard work, it’s intimidating, all that stuff.

I want to help break down as many barriers as we possibly can to pass on the gift of sport, as it’s genuinely been a gift for me in the later stages of my life, which has changed my life and changed me in not just a physical ways, but also my resilience.

Six years ago, there’s no way I would have got through Norseman. I would not have had the mental resilience. I could not have done that.

So with Her Spirit, what we’re trying to do is pass on that message and they’ve got a brilliant community.

At the moment, Sport England have given some funding, so it’s currently free to join for anybody. Then what we’re doing as well is we’re logging our minutes of training and for every 500 minutes that are logged, they’re going to give the app for free when it’s no longer free to the women who can’t afford it.

We were talking to somebody today called Reverend Kate Bartley, who’s a vicar and has just done an incredible triathlon for Sport Relief. Reverend Kate says she used to be really embarrassed about going out, she’d never run in front of anybody.

Again, it’s about breaking down those barriers, saying, it doesn’t matter what you look like, it’s the fact that you’re doing it, that’s what’s really important and it’s the way it makes you feel, not anybody else. I’m very passionate about it.

In the podcasts I get to talk about sport, which is great and hopefully it reaches out to people and gives whoever it is a message that it’s all okay, go and try it.

Adelaide: That’s really wonderful and at Norseman, we really want to get more women racing!

Louise: I know that was one of the reasons I was allowed to do it, wasn’t it?! And we broke the website when it was filmed on BBC Breakfast!

But I think if we can get the message out and I know for example, which is so rewarding, there’s a couple of people who went to Patagonman because they’ve seen me do it.

So women particularly, I just think if we can try and get that message out, that it’s not intimidating, it’s not just for 40 year old men who are super strong, you know, anybody can do it.

You don’t need to be at the top of the mountain or first or 41st.

There’s a huge amount of pride to be taken in just doing these things and stretching yourself and challenging yourself and doing stuff that you don’t think you can do.

Adelaide: Do you think intimidation is one of the main barriers for women entering things like endurance events and challenges?

Louise: Yeah, I do, even myself, when I turned up at my first qualifier and it’s not like people are doing it to you, people aren’t intending to be intimidating, because they’re really not, they’re just doing their thing.

But I do remember sort of turning up and it was like being at your first day of school and going to a new school and everybody knew the rules and you didn’t know the rules, you don’t know how to hang up your bike or whatever it is.

But when we did a podcast last year called the Tripod, which was again, we took three people including Joe Wiley from BBC Radio One from doing no triathlon to their first, rather than to just break it down a bit and answer questions and all the rest, so they understand everything, that’s one thing.

Another thing is that a lot of people feel a lot of intimidation and a lot of concern about the way they look and I realised that’s my problem.

It’s not that people are doing it to me, I just don’t know what you to do, it’s about being familiar with stuff as well.

I tell people to go out with a friend, as there’s safety in numbers isn’t there, you go out and do a little run.

I’ve been at the stage when I couldn’t run and I was just running one minute, walking one minute.

It is all the small steps, every small step makes the big you know, to the end of the race and the big picture. So start small and go with someone, that would be my message.

And listen to people who are debunking the myths, hopefully our podcast Her Spirit might debunk some of the myths around sport, hopefully,

Adelaide: I’m sure it does, it sounds great: healthy, happy lifestyle through sport.

Louise: That’s what it’s about, feeling strong.

It’s not about speaking somebody days. It’s not how you look, it’s how you feel.

The thing that I’ve discovered about doing sport, is that it makes me feel better all day.

It’s not just during that particular time that I’ve done the swim or the run.

There was a moment for example, I went recently to Namibia for Sport Relief as well to raise money, and the conditions were beyond tough. It was 45 degrees in the shade. We had no shade. We’re doing a bike ride on the first day and I just remember being on that bike ride and I’ve spent many hours training for Norseman and Patagonman, and only three weeks before I did it was I told I was going to do it.

I just thought, you know what, all those things that I’ve done in the past, this is the day it’s counted. And you don’t necessarily know the day it’s going to count. It sounds a bit strange, but it’s not necessarily race day, there might be another day where all the stuff that you’ve done to build resilience and build strength really counts. You don’t know that it matters until that moment. That sounds a bit sort of philosophical, doesn’t it? But I genuine had a moment I was like, Oh, now I understand what I’ve been training for.

Adelaide: Unfortunately, we’re coming to the end of Norseman Radio, I could talk to you forever, it’s been a real pleasure to speak to you.

Before we go on to the Lightning Round, is, is there anything else that you’d like to add in terms of the context that we’ve spoken about today?

Louise: What I’m really looking forward to, now that we’re in this strange experience around the world where we have to stay at home, is the moment when I can do another run or a race or whatever it is, when were released from this, it is going to be such an incredible thing. So the future is there. We don’t know when it is, but we will be able to do it again.

Adelaide: I’m very much looking for that moment, too. So, the Lightning Round!

How would you describe Norseman in one word?

Louise: Epic.

Adelaide: Which three people would you love to see race Norseman?

Louise: Judge Robert Rinder and my eldest daughter.

Adelaide: Thank you so much, it’s been truly wonderful to have you on Norseman Radio!

Louise: Oh, thanks, Adelaide and love to everybody in the Norseman family. I hope to see them all again, somewhere sometime. I might just come and watch next time!


About Adelaide Goodeve

Adelaide is a member of the Norseman media team and a professional mindset coach. Find out more about Adelaide here.

About Louise Minchin

Louise Minchin is a hugely respected, and well-known journalist, broadcaster and TV presenter. She currently presents Breakfast on BBC One, the UK’s most watched morning TV programme, with over six and a half million viewers a day.  Louise is also a guest presenter on many other shows, and when she’s not working she’s training for an extreme challenge or world championship race!

If you’d like to connect with Louise, then you’ll find her on


About Norseman Radio

If you’d like to listen to interesting and intriguing stories around the Norseman Xtreme Triathlon and fully immerse yourself in the experience, then Norseman Radio is for you.

This podcast is not just for those who’d like to jump off the car ferry into Eidfjord and run up Zombie Hill.

You can find Norseman Radio on:

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