Hailing from Great Britain (by way of a six-year stint in Australia and currently residing in California), Laura Siddall is new to the SOAS Racing professional roster–and we’re absolutely thrilled to have her on board! Always athletic, Laura cut her triathlon teeth as an age grouper while living in Australia and soon found success. She moved up to the pro ranks after being the overall female amateur winner at the Ironman 70.3 World Championship in 2013, leaving her full-time job as a mechanical engineer and relocating to San Francisco in 2014 to train with renowned coach Matt Dixon and his purplepatch squad. Laura’s professional Ironman debut came later that year in Arizona, where she scored an impressive eighth place and laid the groundwork for a promising career. Next up, Laura will head to New Zealand to tackle the tough-as-nails Challenge Wanaka iron-distance on February 22nd. “It's meant to be absolutely stunning, so I’m pretty excited to visit and race in that part of the world,” says Laura. “After that I'll settle back in the U.S. for the majority of the year, but I’m not sure what races are on the cards yet–apart from Matt wanting me to race a lot!”
We had a chance to “take 5” with Laura in the midst of her Wanaka build to get to know this talented Brit just a tad bit better. Five questions was all it took to quickly understand that she’s a fun (and funny) lady with an unwavering passion for all things swim, bike and run.
SOAS isn’t the first uniform you’ve worn. In fact, you served a year as an officer in the British Army–proving, without a shadow of a doubt, your total badassery! Can you tell us what role you served in the army and what that entailed, or is that double secret squirrel confidential intel?
Laura: Yes, if I tell you I'll have to kill you! Ha ha! I was a Second Lieutenant with the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME). We were attached to a Royal Artillery Regiment, with High Velocity Missile weapons (basically big missiles that fire land to air, to take out enemy aircraft). My actual job wasn't all that snazzy as I was in charge of the Mechanical Workshop HQ, and a team of men and women, ensuring all the Artillery vehicles were maintained and in working order. But I had a great bunch of guys to work with and met some really fantastic people. It also involved a lot of sport, adventure training, socializing and a lot of fun!
You relocated to San Francisco in summer 2014. What are a few of your favorite Bay Area training spots, and how does your deep-seated fear of sharks figure into open water training in the chilly NorCal waters?
Laura: My fear of sharks is so much that I haven't ventured into the open water here! Actually it's more that it's flippin’ cold and not quite the gorgeous ocean of Bondi Beach! However I love being by the water and the coast and the San Fran Bay is truly stunning. So many fab training spots. In fact I just came back from what I think was my best run–certainly in terms of location. I just followed the coast from the Golden Gate Bridge to Lands End and the Cliff House and back. It was simply amazing views all the way. I also love running in Golden Gate Park and I know I've only scratched the surface of the number of paths and trails to run there. Cycling wise, again we’re so lucky that we are spoilt for choice with some really great rides. I love riding over Highway 1 from Mill Valley to Stinson Beach, or back. Again the road follows the coast so it's just awesome looking out over the ocean and it is a really solid gradient to work on.
What’s one of the weirdest things you’ve ever done in the name of triathlon?
Laura: OK, I'm sure there are a lot of weird things! Driving in the car in my wetsuit perhaps (pre and post swim), or pulling an all-nighter before Melbourne Ironman as we drove the length of the marathon course, chalking the road and putting up signs literally every few miles of the course (a marathon is a flippin’ long way!), but probably–and again it was as spectator/cheer squad member at Ironman Melbourne that same year– that I was dressed as a zebra (on no sleep as well, after the above mentioned all-nighter), cheering friends all the way, start to finish. I was cycling up and down the run course, which I imagine could have been a pretty surreal experience for some of the athletes at that stage in the race, seeing a zebra on a bike!
How would your best friends describe you?
Laura: Loyal, determined, persistent, considerate, genuine and hard working. (I'm also adding in hilariously funny and smart–ha ha!)
What’s an embarrassing fact about yourself that you’re willing to share with the entire world, right here, right now?
Laura: I took part in the Spencer Tunick nude photograph on the steps of the Sydney Opera House. [Google it, people!] It's definitely not something I'd normally do, but for some reason it seemed like a good idea at the time. It was certainly very surreal, standing naked with a few thousand other people!
Be sure to follow Laura as she trains and races around the world, via her website (laurasiddall.com) and on Twitter @lmsiddall. Watch for her on the racecourse and on the podium; aside from the occasional zebra suit, she’ll be proudly sporting SOAS!