30 Aug, 2013

Chowing the Challenge

Chowing the Challenge

There’s nothing like a new challenge to get Clive Chowles going: “It’s nice to try something you don’t know about,” he says. “For example, I knew nothing about canoeing and got into a boat and was wobbling around. I remember completing a 2km leg without falling out and an expert told me I would never be ready to compete in the Duzi in a few months, but I got there!”


With a runner-up finish in the World Duathlon Championships in 1997 and a win in 1999, Clive went on to win the Powerman in 2001, grabbed an 11th placing in Ironman South Africa in 2005, finished the Duzi Canoe Marathon and completed the ABSA Cape Epic. And he achieved all that while working full-time in the sport retail market, first with New Balance for 12 years, then helping Inov-8 to put their first range together for SA, and more recently by relaunching the Brooks running footwear and apparel brand in South Africa through his SBR (SwimBikeRun) Agency, which he runs with his wife Michelle.


“We wanted to find an alternative running brand where there was a huge demand in the country,” he explains, “and we wanted Brooks so much that I flew out to Germany a few times to meet with HQ.” Clive is very proud of what they have already achieved, and is committed to the brand. “Brooks is a brand for runners by runners,” he explains. “It’s not only for the elite runner who’ll win Comrades, but for the guy who is starting out. In the next few years, I hope Brooks will dominate in speciality running stores and retain the ‘run happy’ experience the brand brings.”



“I never take a rest day,” says Clive, “my family and work depict my rest. Sometimes you miss a session with a meeting running late, but I have a structure I try and stick to.” This structure is training every day, from 15km morning runs at 4:30am to 3km swim sessions and three-hour bike rides. Weekends are dedicated to events or five-hour long rides while he fits in a three-hour run on Sundays. And with his first ever Comrades Marathon coming up, the more training the merrier.


Having grown up with a running background, Clive made various SA schools athletics and cross-country teams as well as provincial spots at club level. After his stint in the army, he came back with a new interest in duathlon, and after his world championship win, Clive decided to take his training and competing more seriously, including entering several international races. “It was always great to target a few races elsewhere, especially during South Africa’s winter season. I’ve also enjoyed a few Ironman competitions over the years… I targeted just under nine hours at Ironman Austria and with 8km to go I remember running into a spectator and getting cramp, then missing out with a 9:02. It was still amazing though!”



After his three-hour morning ride, Clive is welcomed home by Michelle and his two-year-old daughter Hannah. “I can’t wait to get back from a ride and see them. Hannah is also at gym and events with her bike, and I want to imprint that active lifestyle from an early age. It’s also great working together with Michelle, and we have very defined roles: I do sales and liaise with the company in Germany, while she does the marketing and operations side.”


For Clive and his team, there is an active culture in the company, and even Michelle is now training for her first 5km while Clive aspires to a silver medal at this year’s Comrades. “I’m not intimidated by the distance and length of time, but it’s physically harder than Ironman,” he says. “But at the start line, we’re all fit and ready – it’s who’ll stick it out mentally in the end.” Clive would also like to go back to Ironman South Africa next year and says he will push for other goals as well. “One can always make time to train and compete. You can have all the money in the world, but without your health, you have nothing. Time will be available if you really want it.”