Meet the member – Darren Cranston

Well Darren, how’s the form? How’s everything going for you?

Just sitting in the garden in close to 30 degrees having come back from doing the big lakes cycle (around Blessington). So, all good. Just wish I had this week off work!

Tell us about how you got interested in Triathlon and how you came to join Pulse?

I used to be a competitive swimmer for Ards (up North). I enjoyed the competition but when I finished University, I had to get a job and realised quickly the job and the commitment required to stay competitive were not compatible. So, in a casual chat with someone in the new job they suggested I should try a triathlon as I would be good at the swim bit of it. And it went from there………………

Tell us about your first race?

So, following on from the above chat I entered a sprint race in Antrim. It was in a pool; I had a mountain bike and a pair of runners. I had just retired from swimming so confident in the swim. I never ran and had done a few 20 k bikes in preparation.

So, I seeded myself at the top of the lane – took some convincing the others that I would do my predicted time. Think I lapped everyone twice and had a massive lead after the swim. Pretty sure half the field passed me by the turnaround of the bike as I rode my 5-year-old mountain bike up the road!! It was horrible on the bike and then the run was agony. I got lots of ‘good swim’ as people went by, but I suspect in their heads they were saying ‘it’s not a swim race’. Anyhow – I liked the vibe of the whole thing and decided I would give it a go. That was 2002 – so a long time ago!!

What’s your favourite race/distance to race?

I raced short course with Olympic being my favourite until 2011 when I did my first Ironman. Since then, it has been long course with the odd shorter one thrown in. The buzz of the Ironman in terms of build-up, race week, race morning and then during the race is just special. Everyone should try one!!

To pick an Irish race I’d probably say Kilkee – just an epic weekend and haven’t been there in years. From a long course perspective – The bike course in Roth (it’s like you are in the Tour de France on the Solar hill) and then the run course in Copenhagen was a great atmosphere.

What’s your favourite Pulse memory so far?

I’m a relatively new member having joined 2 years ago (and with lock-down it feels like still have a lot of memories to make). My first pulse sessions were a new experience – running up the hellfire club with head torches. That was cool. The end of sea-son BBQ that year was great as I only make limited training sessions so good to meet people. Hopefully when we are out of all the Covid stuff there will be a bit more socializing.

What’s the best thing about being in a Triathlon club?

I think it’s a must. I was involved in Phoenix Tri Club before. It was really a training group of about 10-15 of us who set it up and just did long course. People emigrating and having kids made the numbers dwindle and none of us really wanted to run it properly and recruit members etc, so we folded it when we got down to the last 2 of us still competing.

I had a couple of years pretty much training on my own which is tough so decided to look to join a club again just to keep me motivated to train and to have people to train with. I think being in a club really makes the sport and maximises the enjoyment – especially when the races come around you can don your club gear (new gear is great by the way!).

When you’re not swimming or pedalling or running, what keeps you busy?

It’s pretty much football all the way (and the reason I can only make random sessions). I coach my daughters U19 team and my sons U16 team in Peamount Utd. Of course, they don’t train on the same night, so I coach Monday-Thursday evenings (thank goodness I live 2 mins from the facility!). Then with matches Saturday and Sunday it’s a busy week. This year the girls are moving to Monday night matches so looks like I’m getting one day of my weekend back.

Outside of Triathlon, what’s your favourite sporting memory or achievement? (Doesn’t have to be your own!)

I’d have to say it is from the swimming. I took a good gap in the swimming (from about age 13-17) and took me a couple of years of really hard work to be competitive again. Probably the highlight was captaining the swimming club and then our 4 x 200 m Freestyle relay team breaking a long-standing Ulster Record to win the final of the Ulster Championships.

Obviously, Kona is the dream for a lot of members, but are there any other bucket list, once-in-a-lifetime type races you’d love to experience?

It would have to be Kona – but I think the only way I’m experiencing that race is by going to watch it. I’ve started a little fund that I set up a standing order into each month and have told my wife I’m taking her to Hawaii for our 20th Wedding anniversary 😊

What’s the next Triathlon goal you’d like to tick off?

The one I have been chasing (unsuccessfully) is a sub 10 in the Ironman. I think it’s still in there somewhere – just need a 17-minute pb. Easier said than done tho!!

What’s your favourite book/movie/tv show? What do you like about them?

Top Gun – haven’t watched it in a while but I do have it on DVD and when I cleared them all out recently it was one of the only ones I kept. Does everyone not think that being a fighter pilot and singing to girls in bars is the life!!

What are the go-to tunes/podcasts for a training session?

If it’s a session to be in the zone for – Swedish House Mafia album ‘Until Now’. Good mix in there.

Pre-pandemic to pass time in the car IMTalk podcast is pretty good.

Who inspires you, be it in sports or in regular life?

I think it is people in general who just don’t give up and are so motivated to achieve their dreams. When you go to an Ironman race if you go back to the finish line at midnight you will see lots of examples of this.

One example was in Barcelona a few years ago we went down to the finish line and there was one guy left to finish. We were about 1 km from the finish, and he was bent over at 90 degrees. He would run at this angle for about 30 seconds and would force himself to stand up straight. As soon as he started running again, he was back bent over. We followed and cheered him to the finish and picked up people along the way who were willing him on. He missed the cut off, but they kept the race open to let him finish and he had a sizable crowd cheering him on down the finish chute with fireworks and music. You would have thought he was the winner the way the crowd was cheering. Gives you goose bumps.

Anything is possible!

What one nugget of advice would you give to a new member starting out on their Triathlon journey?

I think just ask as many questions as you can – triathletes are helpful and only delighted to talk endlessly about our sport. I’d also say get in with a group at similar levels and that way you will push each other on and I always find when you are meeting people to train you are less likely to skip a session.

Finally, can you tell us an interesting fact or story we don’t know about you?

I worked in the Energy Regulator in Belfast as my first job. I attended a cross border away day with the Irish regulator and met my now wife (took the cross-border relations bit very seriously!). It was a bit of a whirlwind. We met in February and got engaged in Miami in July and were married in September the year after. That’s how I came to live in Dublin in 2002 and still here and loving it (and her!!).

Pulse Triathlon Club: swimming, cycling, running and socialising since 2003

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