In the news - Nathan Atkinson

8th October 2010 at 01:00

Nathan is headteacher at Allerton Bywater Primary in West Yorkshire and was one of just 20 athletes who competed in the Eurostar Tri-City-Athlon, the first ever triathlon event across three cities in one day (info@eurostartricityathlon). He swam 1.5km in the Bassin de la Vilette in Paris, cycled 40km on the roads of Brussels and ran 10km in Regent's Park, London. And after all that? He was back in school the next morning and attended a training course straight after.

No rest for the wicked?

"Well, I went back into school to show my colleagues that I was still alive and to prove I wasn't skiving. When I went to the course it was really embarrassing, I walked in and everyone started clapping. It was a headteacher training day - they kept talking about the aspects of challenges and kept coming back to it."

How did you become one of the 20?

"My dad saw the advert in the paper. You had to submit 200 words and a photo to a website, and then people voted. I had the whole school involved, as you were only allowed one vote per person. I even had the local authority advisers on it. The top 50 then had to write to a judging panel including James Cracknell, the double Olympic gold medallist. My last words were: 'It will certainly be an education.'"

And was it?

"It was very tiring but it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I have never done anything so physically demanding before and I overcame a huge mental barrier as I really feared doing the open-water swim."

Is swimming not your thing, then?

"No, I joined a swimming class for the competition and was in the bottom group. I now know what it's like for kids when they learn something new - tough. I graduated as a sports scientist and worked as a fitness instructor, then got married and grew fat on the good life. But I got refocused and last year I did the London Marathon."

Did you rub shoulders with any athletes?

"(Triathletes) the Brownlee brothers were there - they are from Leeds so I had some good banter with them. (400m runner) Iwan Thomas was there, too - the last time I saw him was overtaking him 13 miles into the London Marathon so I gave him some stick about that. The night before we had a briefing from Lord Coe, who added prestige to the event. He spoke a lot about the Olympics."

Tempted by London 2012?

"Oh no, but my grandma got very confused and thought I was actually competing in the Olympics, bless her. That won't be happening."

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar,, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today