James McAulay is the Co-founder & CEO of Encore, an online tool for finding and booking musicians for live events. He explains why he's decided to race three triathlons in support of Help Musicians this year.
In 2019, I’ll be competing in three triathlons - the first three of my life! - to raise money for the important work being done by Help Musicians. Very simply, a triathlon consists of swimming, cycling and then running, without any breaks. I’ve been a keen runner since I was a teenager and have been cycling seriously (as in, wearing Lycra) for the last five years.
I’ve done a few duathlons before (running and cycling) but I knew that my swimming was weak, so I procrastinated about doing a triathlon for a few years. Until this year I’d never swam further than about 300m in a pool and never in open water. My first experience in open water was on a freezing day in April when I attempted the ponds at Hampstead Heath. I only lasted for about five minutes before I had to get out, shivering for the next few hours.
Thanks to the patience of my local triathlon club and my own stubbornness, I’ve managed to improve my swimming and in May this year I competed in my first ever triathlon. I managed to come 10th out of 74 competitors and it was one of the most enjoyable races of my life – from that point I knew I was hooked. I then went on to compete in the Olympic Distance race at the London Triathlon, and up next will be the Woburn Abbey Half Ironman in September, which is roughly double the length of an Olympic race (1.9km swim, 90km cycling and 21.1km running). I’m sure I’ll get to the end, but I think it’s going to be painful! The weeks of intense training in the lead-up to this race have been some of the most exhausting of my life, and the race is going to push me physically and mentally to a place I’ve never been to before, but I’m looking forward to the challenge and to learning more about myself in the process.
I’m so proud to be supporting the fantastic work being done by Help Musicians and am committed to raising hundreds of pounds throughout this year as I compete in progressively harder races. My parents met in an orchestra and I studied at music school, so I’ve been surrounded by musicians my whole life and care deeply about their wellbeing. Musicians face myriad risks and challenges that don’t exist in other professions and the safety net provided by Help Musicians can be a lifesaver.
I’m particularly inspired by the mental health helpline, Music Minds Matter, that Help Musicians launched. We all struggle with our mental health from time to time whilst being a freelancer can add extra pressure and difficulty, so it’s brilliant that support is out there at any time of day or night for people working in music and in need of a listening ear. I also think that the Musicians’ Hearing Health Scheme is fantastic and am constantly telling musicians about it.
I myself and the company I started, Encore, are huge supporters of Help Musicians UK, and I hope that as well as raising funds this year, I can raise awareness of the outstanding work being done every day to support musicians, who I fundamentally believe make the world a better place to live in.
You can donate to James' fundraising page here. If you want to get involved and fundraise for us in a challenge event, we still have spaces available in races this year. Get in touch with our fundraising team to find out more at [email protected]Back