Meet Thanyapura’s Newest Tri Couple: Ritchie Nicholls and Eimear Mullan

AsiaTRI had the opportunity to interview Ritchie Nicholls and Eimear Mullan via email.  The couple are Thanyapura Pro Triathlon Team’s newest members.   They just moved to Phuket last December 2016.

AsiaTRI:  You are Thanyapura Triathlon Team’s newest members, how does it benefits you, in terms of getting that edge,in getting access to a world-class facility, in training as well as the important part of recovering from all the day’s hard work?

Ritchie: We feel very lucky and grateful to have the opportunity to be a part of the Thanyapura Professional Triathlon team and it came at a perfect time for us. The world class facilities make training  and recovering so much easier.  We join in many of the group training sessions and classes which really keeps us motivated every day. It means that we can train hard and recover properly.

AsiaTRI:  How did you start in the sport? 

Ritchie; I started doing Triathlon at 14 years old. I went to the local swim club once a week and one of my friends from swimming took part in a kids triathlon race so I went along with him. I started training more seriously at 16 when I moved away from home to train with the Scottish national team. I worked hard on my swim at that stage and had some success at junior and U23 races including winning the European U23 Championships and coming 4th place at the World Championships. 

In 2013 I started doing half and full ironman races and found this suited me much better. I won a few 70.3s that year including the European Championships in Germany.

 Eimear: I had a late start in triathlon, I was 25 when I did my first triathlon.  When I was younger I competed in a sport called Tetrathlon (swim, run, shoot, horse ride) which is similar to modern pentathlon but without fencing. The distances were very short and the events were contested over 2-3 days.  It wasn’t until I was studying to become a teacher and one day overheard someone talking about selling a bike that I started triathlon. I bought the bike and eventually started cycling, then decided I would try a triathlon. I started with sprint races and worked my way up to 70.3 and eventually ironman racing. I raced age group for a couple of years then around 2011-2012 after some strong races  I decided to enter some races as a professional. I had a great year in 2012 and in 2013 went full time when I joined Team TBB and Brett Sutton and my professional career progressed from there.

AsiaTRI:  You both dealt with injuries, and some lingered for a long time, how hard it is to be patient and slowly and gradually getting to form?

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Eimear I have been struggling with an injury for almost 2 seasons and it as definitely been the hardest part of being a professional athlete. During that time I have been extremely close to giving up and going back to teaching but I somehow managed to have the motivation to keep going and to trust that it would get better eventually. After a very long time completely off training I started easing back in to it when I came to Thanyapura. I was very unfit and I had to build up from absolutely nothing. It’s been great to see some fitness slowly returning and I am starting to feel like an athlete again. It has really helped to be able to join the coaches and group sessions at Thanyapura.  After not running at all for well over a year it’s a very slow and careful process for me to get back to running. It’s a work in progress but hopefully I will be back to running fast and racing soon.

Ritchie: Early in my triathlon career I had two stress fractures, one in each foot. Since then I have been very lucky with regards to injury and I am hoping to find some of the form I had when I started racing long in 2013 at the Asian races this year.

 AsiaTRI:  Where is your home countries? Now that you are based in Thanyapura, in Phuket, Thailand, how is the adjustment, from the culture, weather, the cuisine?

Eimear is from  Ireland. Ritchie is from Scotland.

Eimear: I started doing triathlons I spent some time travelling in Thailand so I had an idea of what to expect. Since arriving we have both managed to adjust very well and absolutely love everything about Thailand. The weather is amazing and the food is brilliant and we are enjoying learning about Thai culture and to speak a little bit of the language. 

Ritchie: this is my first time in Thailand and I really didn’t know what to expect. I have really embraced the opportunity to be here and I love everything about Thailand. I am looking forward to going to some other Asian countries when I am here.


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AsiaTRI:  Can you share with us the dynamics of being a couple and professional triathletes at the same time?

Eimear does the cooking and Ritchie does the laundry 😉

We do a lot of our training together and we both enjoy joining the group sessions at Thanyapura. It’s nice to have someone there to train with especially on the longer aerobic sessions and it’s great to have each other when we aren’t feeling like so good or motivation is low.

AsiaTRI:  Can you give tips for the average age-grouper on how to ease into the start of the season?

Eimear; set some goals at the start of the season and work towards achieving them through some consistent and enjoyable training.  

Ritchie I think it is important to build up your training slowly so that you can be consistent and be in your best form when you get to your important races.

We are now coaching athletes online and are enjoying helping people to achieve their goals and find it very rewarding. 

AsiaTRI:  As new members of the Thanyapura Triathlon Team, what are your expectations in the team, as well as your goals for the 2017 season?

Eimear. My goal is to get back to racing at a good level in 70.3 and Ironman races. As part of the thanyapura pro team I plan to do most of my racing in Asia so I can represent the team well.

Ritchie. My main goal is to podium and hopefully win a few 70.3 races this year. I would love to race the World 70.3 Championships this year and would also like to hit one or two Ironman races this year as I feel I’ve not managed to race well at this distance yet. I plan to race in Asia for most of the season which is very exciting as I love to race in new races and see new places.

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