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BBC Breakfast presenter Louise Minchin on her long-held love of North Cornwall, and how becoming a triathlete, competing at national level, has changed her life. Interview Alex Reece
North Cornwall is my favourite part of the British Isles coast – from Porthcothan all the way up to Bedruthan – that whole stretch of incredibly dramatic, beautiful coastline.
I grew up in Berkshire but we used to go to Cornwall for family holidays from when I was about five. Some of my first memories are down there – eating tuna sandwiches with sand in them on the beach. I must have started bodysurfing when I was about 10 and I remember being tumbled in the washing machine of the waves. I just loved it. In those days we used to have wooden boards and no wetsuits.
We still go there, but now we’ve got wetsuits and all the gear, and my children bodysurf. The wonderful thing about it is, every single year, the waves are the same and the coast is the same. I notice changes after a big storm, but it’s not been overdeveloped. It’s still as fantastic as it always was, in my view.
When I’m training for a triathlon, I run along the coastline, which is challenging. I do swim in the sea, and obviously I take immense care. I know a lot of the lifeguards, as I always chat to them when I go to the beach. I did some swim training with them on Harlyn Beach a couple of years ago before my first World Championship, as they do surf rescue training in the early mornings. I joined them a couple of times, which was an incredible experience.
If somebody had told me five years ago that I could represent my country in a sport, I'd have told them that was absolutely ridiculous. It’s changed me in lots of different ways. I hardly did any sport beforehand so first of all, physically, I’m really strong. And also every swim, every run, every bike ride has made me a little happier.
I’m going to be 50 in September 2018 and I’m going to do an Iron Man in Patagonia. Just dare to do something that’s out of your comfort zone and see how you feel afterwards.
Louise Minchin's Dare to Tri: My Journey from the BBC Breakfast Sofa to GB Team Triathlete (£12.99, Bloomsbury Sport) is out now.