Meet the member – Bert Depla
When did you join Pulse?
I joined Pulse in 2017. My good friend Dave Brennan was a member. After my first 2 races in 2016 I knew I needed to sort out my swimming. I was talking about taking up classes when he said the club had them as well. Seemed to make sense.
Had you any experience of Triathlon before joining the club?
Belgium has a great pedigree in Triathlon. Luc Van Lierde (twice winner of Kona) is from Brugge my hometown. The sport itself has always been there.
How and why did you get started in Triathlon?
In 2014 I had to make a switch as I was overweight, and my cholesterol was sky high. As most people I started running. As I progressed from 5 to 10K’s I looked at other things to do. After looking into it I set it as a goal to do a triathlon. A sprint at the time looked well doable.
When Dave suggested to do it, I went hell why not.
Tell us about your first race
Harbourman County Wicklow 2016 Sprint distance.
Dave, Ali & I travelled down to Wicklow. Bikes in the back of Ali’s van. I didn’t know what to expect to be honest.
I still get race nerves at this stage so that it wouldn’t have been any different then.
Don’t really remember much of transition all a bit of a haze. We walked up to the swim entrance and I saw the family standing there. I was happy to see them.
One of the marshals said if you aren’t a good swimmer go to the back. I was (and still am) not a good swimmer so I moved right to the back. Not a good idea I realize now. What I saw behind all the goggles was pure fear and it got me as well.
In Harbourman you get counted in and you jump into the water. A wave hit me in the face, and I was completely disorientated. I stopped swimming looked around. I saw people running out of the water. One guy swam to the wall and climbed on the ladder. Another guy looked at me and said what are we going to do now? I just replied well I am going to keep going as I have the family out there. And off I went. I was all over the place. I do a few strokes and I had to stop and take a breath. I looked around and it was carnage. One guy was hanging on the lifeboat wouldn’t move anymore. Another guy has just pulled over a kayak. I just started to laugh and went I am not this bad. Stress fell off me and off I went.
It still wasn’t pretty after that. I was swimming the wrong way, I had kayak coming next to me going are you sure are alright. The first guys doing the Olympic distance even caught me.
When I finally made it out of the water, I was so relieved that I made it. But I was in bits and I still had to do bike and the run.
On the bike I had some time to recover from the swim and the 2nd part it really went well. Too well it seems as I went to hard.
When I started to run my whole body hurt so I stopped took a deep breath and went ok just jog it out. Just finish this thing and then you never have to do this for the rest of your life.
It took me 01:49:39 to finish it. I swore then to never do it again in my life. One month later I did DCT.
What’s your favourite race/distance to race?
I don’t really mind being honest. I have done Sprint, Standard & Middle so far and I think they all have their charm.
I am not fast, but Sprint is just all out. Just go as fast as you can. To use the words of Matt Bird balls out.
Standard & middle are lot more measured. More things to keep in mind like nutrition and hydration.
I do enjoy training for the middle Distance. It suits well with work/life balance.
What’s your favourite Pulse memory so far?
I will pick 2 provinces 2018.
I think as a club we scooped up every included in the club award. The weather was lovely, and we were all sitting along having the chat & the craic.
It was a really good atmosphere.
What’s the best thing about being in a Triathlon club?
There is the practical side. The possibility to train with fellow members. We sure missed the track sessions this year. Also, on race day there is a group of people you can fall back on if you need help with anything. And don’t forget the support of the club on race day.
And there is the social side. We all enjoy the tea & cakes most on the Monday evening OW swims.
When you’re not swimming or pedalling or running, what keeps you busy?
I am a family man. Married with 3 kids it is a busy household. There is a lot of daddy taxi around the place to all different activities.
I also try to give a dig out where I can in the kid’s activities being running or football. Last couple of years I gave the Pulse finance team a helping hand with the race accounts.
Living abroad I do try to travel home a couple of times a year as well. When there I tried to see Club Brugge game or even better tried to get a European away game. I love to travel so this is a nice combination of the two.
To pay the bills I work as Indirect Taxes Manager for PTC (US software company).
Outside of Triathlon, what’s your favourite sporting memory or achievement?
As a schoolkid I always compete in a lot of sports, but I was never really that successful. I was part of the school football, basketball and cross-country running teams. We had good teams, but we never really got very far in tournaments. Even in college we had a decent football team for two years, but we never got passed the quarters.
In 6th year I was the only kid in the top 10 cross country cup that wasn’t part of an athletic club. I received what looked like a bathroom tile & a bathroom towel for being in the top 10.
What’s the bucket list, once in a lifetime race, you’d love to experience?
There is a lot of things I still want to do. There is so many good races in Ireland that I haven’t done. Lost Sheep definitely on the list here. Same with some of the Hardman races. Valentia Island race looks stunning.
Definitely would like to go abroad for a race as well. I know Brugge has Standard Distance. There was once a pledge made after too many pints in the Bleeding Horse by a few Pulsers (class of 2017 you know who you are) to go over to Brugge. That would be almighty craic.
What’s the next Triathlon goal you’d like to tick off?
I will just try to do my 2020 plan in 2021.
Carlow, Sheephaven, Hell of the West & Tyrone and then the Dublin marathon.
Fingers crossed that will go ahead this year.
Finally, what one nugget of advice would you give to a new member starting out on their Triathlon journey?
Let me quote Baz Luhrmann here:
Wear sunscreen. If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be it.