What happens when a former Spice Girl does battle with an Olympic cyclist? Thanks to Melanie Chisholm, we are about to find out. She’s teaming up with Victoria Pendleton and the charity Human Race to take part in this year’s Shock Absorber Women Only Triathlon.
Human Race lend support to a series of disability, cancer, mental health and children’s charities. For Mel C (to give the singer-songwriter and actress her Spice Girls title), the opportunity to get involved was a no-brainer, not least because she has become something of an amateur triathlete over recent years.
“I have been doing triathlons since 2011 as it was always something that I fancied having a go at,” she says, “and I was approached by Virgin Active and when they asked me to do it for them I said yes. And once you’ve said yes, you have to do it then, don’t you?! So I did some training, some outdoor swimming as I’d never done that, but I’d been in a bike and did some running. I did and absolutely loved it, I fell in love with it. So then I was hooked, starting doing some proper specific training for it.”
With the charity’s good work an obvious pull, Melanie also quips that the chance to compete against Victoria Pendleton was too good to miss. “Of course! With Victoria involved, how could you say no? What an honour to be alongside such a brilliant Olympian”.
And charity driven it may be, but we can sense a little competition creeping between the two of them…
“I know what she’s like! She’s meant to be running, but I know she is going to be grabbing hold of that bike and saying ‘let me ride!’”
The venture into the world of triathlon is the latest move in a life full of exercise and activity for Chisholm, who lives up to her nickname.
“Well I am Sporty Spice, you might have heard! I’ve always been active, even as a kid I’ve always been athletic, at school I was into gymnastics, I was on the athletics team, I always danced so I’ve always been fit. I got introduced to the gym probably around the early 1990’s when I started to a bit of running, a bit of yoga, a bit of martial arts, those types of things.
“I’m just one of those freaks that loves exercise, thank God as well! I’m happy for that. Competing is a good thing for me, it gives me a goal. Running in the gym can be monotonous if it is for no reason”.
Chisholm recently celebrated the big 4-0 (fans of the Spice Girls might feel old right now) but it hasn’t deterred her thirst for activity.
“Since I turned 40 everything has gone wrong!” she jests. “No, when I was competing last year I felt the fittest I have ever felt. I felt great. But my body is older, so it is harder getting up in the mornings and I do tire a bit more easily and it takes longer to recover. And you’re a bit more susceptible to injuries. That’s what I’ve found”.
She has also found that giving birth to a daughter Scarlet in 2009 has changed her outlook on life.
“Yes it has. I am more relaxed since I become a mum. I don’t get so worried about what other people are saying about me or things out of my control because they don’t matter anymore. It has been very good for my well-being. And it has made me want to be a good role model for Scarlet so she can grow up with good self-esteem and look at her mum and see an honest person.”
Anna from Wilmslow, Cheshire
“A couple of things made me want get involved. I have just came out of long term relationship and moved from London back home to Cheshire, so I decided to start a fresh, get out and about more and stop being so lazy. So I thought I had all this countryside, cycling is perfect for me to do. I wanted a new challenge and Cycletta is up the road in Tatton so it seemed perfect.
But the main reason is that the campaign is very close to me as I lost my mum to cancer four years ago. She had breast cancer, it was the second time she had had it, but it was too much for her this time.
We didn’t know about Macmillan until the last few months. She suffered for over 12 months and we didn’t know. I cared for her myself, which was very difficult. But they stepped in at the end and they were fantastic. We only had their help for a few weeks but they did so much for me and my dad that I really wish I’d have known about them sooner. So I have wanted to help them and raise awareness in any way that I can.”
Melanie is ambassador for the Shock Absorber Women Only Triathlon on 13 July. To find out more or to enter go to www.humanrace.co.uk/triathlon