Heather's Personal Journey to completing the Snowman

Published: 19.06.2022

We are often contacted by athletes who really want to share their stories of how and why they have taken up Triathlon. To Heather the challenge of completing our Snowman triathlon means so much, below she tells us her personal story in the hope to help fundraise and raise awareness of the National Association for People Abused in Childhood.

(***Trigger warning***)

It was the spring of my 5th birthday when it happened. My brain took the trauma and buried it deep, protecting me, blocking the memories. My subconscious mind and 5-year-old self built a protection system: look and dress like a boy, stop brushing your teeth, withdraw, hide, make yourself strong. It worked until I became a teenager and the hormones kicked in, lost and confused, with no memory of what had happened, I turned to drugs. Heroin took the pain away, crack made me feel powerful. For years I battled on with life, I kicked the drugs but the depression never went away.

In my early 30’s the depression got so bad I couldn’t work anymore; I left the French Alps where I was living and found shelter with my brother. He gave me a roof, a flexible job and a stable foundation. I have no idea where I would be if he hadn’t been there. I found a therapist that I connected with and so began a long and difficult road.

Fast forward 10 years and I am free from depression. I may not be able to call myself a ‘thriver’, but I am proud to be a ‘survivor’. My teeth are ruined from the lack of care, I still have flashbacks in certain situations, and some days I just have to hide myself away from the world to focus on the small, wounded child inside me who is screaming for help.

I’m one of the lucky ones, I am here. Along the road to healing I had free counselling from an organisation called Seren, this organisation no longer exists, they ran out of funding, and people like me will never be able to get that support. No one should find themselves in that situation, so I am raising money for the National Association for People Abused in Childhood (NAPAC).

I’d never done a triathlon before. I did cross-country and athletics as a child, competed as a mountain biker in my 30’s, and used to enjoy swimming. A friend did the Snowman Legend triathlon in 2021 and that was when I realised that this was the right challenge for me to try. Eryri has always been close to my heart, we came here every summer from when I was 5 till I was 9. In therapy I would draw my ‘safe place’ and it was only when I moved here in 2021 that I realised I had been drawing Nant Gwynant where we used to stay. He couldn’t reach me if I was here.

To prepare I have been training all over Eryri (and further afield), I completed the Sandman Sprint distance and then the Slateman Standard just last weekend, but I still have no idea if I will be able to complete the Legend distance. I cannot describe how much this challenge means to me, I’ll probably start sobbing when I cross the line, maybe I’m hoping it’ll bring some sort of closure.

If you feel like donating, please feel free to visit my Just Giving page: