Jacqui Allen | From Fire-Fighter to World Class Professional Triathlete
A former fire-fighter, Jacqui Allen turned her passion for triathlon in to a full-time career. Finding early success in Xterra, she has been a frequent occupant of the winner’s podium for many years, and having been crowned British Elite and Off-Road Triathlon Champion, Jacqui is the embodiment of following your dreams to make them a reality.
Five years ago I made a decision that would change my life completely, demonstrating how determined I was, to chase my dream.
I was brought up in Stoke-on-Trent, England and from the age of 14 I worked on Saturdays in my Dad’s greengrocers trying to earn money so I could one day do something with my life. As soon as I finished school I took up an apprenticeship and became a lifeguard. This lead to success working in the leisure industry and it was here I met some very inspirational people and found the path for my new journey.
At the age of 24 I was settled for life, little did I know I had the potential to achieve more.
In 2006 I secured a full time position as a Fire-Fighter and at the age of 24 I was settled for life, little did I know I had the potential to achieve more.
At the age of 21 I had taken up triathlon (quite late some would say). I was lucky to find a great coach to push me to my limits which lead to qualifying for the triathlon age group world championships in Switzerland. I finished an emotional 11th but I wanted better and more; I was so inspired by the girls that stood on the podium. I continued to train hard whilst working full-time as a Fire-Fighter, and some super results enabled me to partake in some professional races against the world best athletes. In 2010 the fire service agreed to give me a sabbatical and fully supported my quest to train for the London Olympics for a further 2 years.
Inspired and supported purely by my own drive, my own savings and a very special man who believed in my potential and gave me the opportunity to be professional, my training schedule stepped up. Being age 26 I didn’t qualify for any funding from my own sport federation and money soon ran short. I was at breaking point. Ready to give up my dream and return to full time work as a firefighter. My turning point was that in that same year I entered an Xterra event – a triathlon but with all it’s disciplines “off road.” It was the European championships in Sardinia, Italy where I took 6th place behind World Champion Mel Macquaid. I couldn’t believe it, I was good at this sport (even with limited mountain bike training) and I made a little money from the trip! The success gave me a much needed boost.
I was at breaking point. Ready to give up my dream and return to full time work as a firefighter.
In the same year I met my husband Ben Allen, also a triathlete. We set a mini plan to race in the Xterra World Tour which meant asking the fire service for another year off. They were super supportive and gave me a further and final 6 months until I was to return to work.
In 2012 I had a blinder of a year winning my first Xterra World Tour race and finishing on the podium several times at world tour races. I became British Elite Triathlon Champion and off road Triathlon Champion. But the hardest decision of my life was ahead of me – do I make triathlon my life or do I take a step back to the fire service and be very satisfied and comfortable in a well paid job that I enjoyed?…
Well, who said life was easy? If being a pro athlete was easy then everyone would do it. I left the Fire Service to pursue my dream to become a World Champion. In 2013 I finished 5th in the World Championships and have since rocked up 11 Xterra World Cup titles and currently stand 2nd in the world at cross triathlon. Wow – it’s been a journey of extreme highs and lows! Living out of a suitcase, always searching for the best places to swim, bike and run – it’s a whirlwind! And I’m still striving to be a better athlete, my dream goes on!
Every year I continue to learn about myself and about the athlete within; finding new strategies and coping methods to deal with the life of a professional athlete.
My life has not just been about the racing, it’s been about the journey. Every year I continue to learn about myself and about the athlete within; finding new strategies and coping methods to deal with the life of a professional athlete. Racing to me is not always about the fastest swim, biker or runner, it’s about the mental strength, the journey and how you learn to become a better person and athlete.
2017 was my best year to date and it’s easy to choose a season highlight. I finally accomplished a career best and got that illusive medal at the Elite ITU World Cross Triathlon Championships after five years of racing this event, in fact I got 2 World medals in the same championship because I came away with a bronze in the Elite Aquathlon.
I’ve always been the consistent athlete who consistently performs well, now I’m the more mature athlete that carefully selects her races and pulls it off on the day.
I love my lifestyle, and what I love most of all is inspiring others to take on new challenges and follow their dreams. We now have an established coaching business, as a result I am now coaching 20 athletes from Australia, UK, Singapore and the USA. I’m finding this super rewarding as I can share my knowledge gained over the last 10 years to others just starting out in the sport.
When I look back on my 2017 race season I would describe Jacqui Allen as the athlete that now peaks for her chosen races and delivers the goods at the major events. I’ve always been the consistent athlete who always performs well, now the more mature athlete that carefully selects her races and pulls it off on the day.
My goals for 2018 are to inspire people, especially women to challenge themselves and be part of a healthy, active lifestyle through swimming, cycling and running. To continue to race at the highest level in Triathlon & Cross Triathlon and give my all to succeed in achieving the dream World Championships Title. To continue to lead & coach our group of athletes to achieve their personal goals and reach their potential.
THIS ARTICLE WRITTEN BY Nicola Mackay – Nutritionist, Adv Dip Nut