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Fri 23rd Aug 2019
Introducing... Catherine Faux
Posted by: John Levison
Posted on: Wednesday 6th March 2013

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Having only done her first triathlon in 2009, Catherine Faux has managed to make quite an impact on the Age Group racing scene of late.

After winning The Outlaw Triathlon in 2011, Faux has since won the European and World Long Distance Age Group Championships, finished seventh overall at Ironman South Africa, won The Vitruvian and then finished 2012 with second place in the F25-29 Age Group at Kona.

Having entered The Outlaw "with the intention of getting iron-distance out of my system", that is an exceptionally impressive CV to have built up in a short space of time.More impressive is that Catherine has done this while undertaking her medical studies, working as a medical assistant for Team Sky and the British Cycling Team and without the benefit of an elite background in any of the triathlon disciplines.

Meet the "uncomplicated" redhead, Catherine Faux...

Firstly, what a great year you had in 2012 with so many highlights – how do you look back now, a few months on, and assess your racing and results last year?

It's weird, you never really stand back and look at how far you've come but I've certainly enjoyed it – a lot of firsts. Some first places, my first time changing a tyre in a race, my first DNF, my first Kona, my first year of taking it all a bit more seriously and working with a coach. I'm generally pleased with what I've achieved, but happily at this point in my career I can see huge gains waiting to be made and it requires patience (which I seem to lack), not to get frustrated that I can't have them all now!

Catherine FauxCan you tell us a bit about how you got into the sport? Unless I've missed it, I can't see a previous career as an elite swimmer / cyclist / runner that got you to this level so quickly?

Happily in triathlon you don't need to be the very best of the best at each discipline to be the best at combining them. When I was younger I was never outstanding at any one sport though I would compete in pretty much everything at school level – classic attention-deficit athlete in the making. I did a couple of years of club swimming from 13 but had missed the boat having started too old and was always swimming with people half my size. My path to triathlon started in my second year of Uni, thanks to a good amount of serendipity and fuelled by well-meant warnings that I will never have time for such nonsense in the future.

Looking back, we have a few – relatively modest – results of yours in our database going back three or four years. Was there a point at which you particularly got the 'bug' so to speak, and thought “I really want to have a go at this seriously”?

I loved my first triathlon – a sprint in 2009 – but at that point you never think you may be any good (I wasn't!), though I do remember having an inkling that this new sport may hold my attention for some time. Training for my first marathon in 2010, and then doing a 70.3 (Edinburgh and Antwerp respectively), massively increased my previously-average fitness, and I decided I quite liked the longer stuff. Ironically I entered Outlaw whilst in an exam-dazed state one Christmas with the intention of getting iron-distance out of my system, but triathlon tends to grab you. It was my favourite race for lots of reasons and this was probably the point of no return.

Catherine FauxWinning The Outlaw in 2011 at your first attempt at the distance was perhaps the first time your name was 'known'. Was that a key point for you – as later that year you were first Age Grouper overall at the ETU Long Distance European Champs too?

The European champs in Finland were a useful follow-up to Outlaw – despite finishing Outlaw with a 70 minute lead I still felt like it was all a strange, happy accident, or had happened to somebody else. It would be impossible to miss any laps while leading a race but I seriously questioned it – it just didn't feel as hard as I had expected. My preparation for Finland was totally sub optimal since I was volunteering on a church camp the weeks before so I couldn't even go on a jog – so I didn't really have high expectations of myself. I think the nice, flat course played to my strengths though, and my result confirmed that I could be consistently competitive – and Outlaw wasn't just a fluke!

Tell us about your Kona experience last year. It's not uncommon for first-time athletes there to suffer, but you had a great race –first GB Age Grouper overall – and took second in the F25-29 Age Group. How tough was the event? You were less than three minutes away from top spot in your age group too.

It didn't disappoint in terms of toughness. I hate hot weather and I have a lot to learn about my body and how it performs in different conditions, since I just don't have the race experience behind me that some people do (this was my third iron-distance, and my first warm-weather race). Everyone is trying to dispense advice (you meet true Kona and Ironman veterans who've notched up countless finishes), but no amount can really prepare you, and I just headed out with the intention of starting at the gun and going to the finish line. Best not to overcomplicate things! I was pretty kind on myself, reasoning that it was my first year, and I did not want to be crawling down the red carpet – though with hindsight you always wish you pushed harder (and that I had closed the two minutes to the girl ahead). I suffered the worst sunburn I have ever had (there's a reason redheads are generally found more in northern latitudes!), and the ache of the next day legs that you learn to enjoy as an athlete were perhaps a little more intense than I would choose. But if an Ironman doesn't make your legs ache I'm not sure what would. It didn't take long for me to decide that I want another go at Kona.

Catherine Faux

Over the last couple of years you have won the European and World Long Distance Champs – and been first Age Grouper overall in both – and taken second in Kona. What is next – are/would you consider racing in the Pro ranks, or does going for that top spot in Kona first appeal? Any particular races on the 2013 season plan?

Racing professionally definitely appeals, but at the moment I'm generally finishing mid-Pro field. If I was a 'proper' Pro I want to be a regular on the podium, so I have a way to go yet. I'm also mindful that taking something you love and making it your job can change your relationship with it. I don't rule anything out, but happily I don't need to rush in deciding either.

My race plan is unfortunately limited by when I can escape Uni, both in the short term with vacations and long-term, when I finally graduate! I plan to race Ironman Nice and ITU World Long Distance Championships in France, both in June. Everything else is still pretty fluid!

Catherine Faux

What is the 'day job' so to speak for you – and how/where do you fit your triathlon life around that?

I'm a medical student, which sounds like I should have loads of time but unfortunately it's not the case! During 2012 I took a leave of absence to spend a year doing the enviable job of being a medical assistant for Team Sky and the British Cycling Team which made things easier with getting time off to race but still tricky, training-wise. But being a medical student definitely has a positive effect on training, since the frustration of being cooped up in the hospital combined with appreciation of my health when you meet others less fortunate means training is always a welcome escape. My studies certainly aren't helped though, since adventuring in the Peaks is always far more appealing than getting stuck into a book. I'll graduate in 2014 but then the real work starts when becoming a junior doctor.

Catherine FauxTriathlon is a time consuming and expensive past time – have your results enabled you to secure any sponsorship(s) to help with your swim / bike / run life?

NouriSH me now (, a small company based in Sheffield, take care of my recovery needs by sponsoring me with their delicious natural recovery drinks. I started using them the day of Outlaw and I still look forward to glugging them down after training or racing – they are infinitely better than anything else I've tried.

For the 2012 season I was supported by Team GI Tri Bridgtown which I am no longer part of but I hope that the relationship with Mike at Bridgtown Cycles will continue.

I'm very excited to say that I have been invited to join Team Freespeed Virgin Active ( for the coming season – I'm buzzing and I'm really looking forward to getting stuck in.

Before I had any decent results to my name (in early 2011, when people laughed at my aspirations to do an Iron-distance), Bicicleta in Sheffield ( helped me with a bike which set things in motion and for which I will always be grateful.

Catherine FauxWhat about your training environment – do you have a coach? Train with a club / regular group etc – and what are your strengths & weaknesses as an athlete?

I'm coached by Judith Brand, and would love to train with a group – being naturally competitive I feel this would benefit me enormously – but it is logistically difficult with a timetable that is never the same one week to the next, and being a long distance-type there are few people who want to do the same sort of stuff! I have some great biking friends with good banter and an appreciation for my cakes, and who can easily drop me (which is always useful).

I think I'm pretty even in each discipline, although at a push it seems my bike is stronger compared to others when racing. Still being relatively new to the sport, and cycling especially (the one I started most recently), I lack bike handling skills and my run form leaves much to be desired… but I see these as gains waiting to be unlocked.

Finally, to give the Tri247 readers an insight into you… how do you think your friends would describe you?!

Asking people this is pretty revealing. No reply was untrue, but some more silly (“singing and cakes”) than others (“buoyant, uncomplicated, generous”) – I assume 'buoyant' was meant in the happy sense, though I am reasonably floaty in water!

You can find out more about Catherine via, and follow her on Twiiter @catherinefaux

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