Club Coaches


Meet the Current Coaches

Mark Zirbser

Head Coach

  •  Coaching qualifications:  BTF Level2 and 50% of the way through BTF High Performing Coach Programme  

  • Why triathlon / multisport: I get bored too quickly with a single discipline sport and simply love the mental and physical challenge of ultra distance multi-sport 

    When started competing 1988  

    Palmares (competition results): 

    I have done well over 100 triathlons, although I have never done a pool-based triathlonMy favourite is long course and this season will be my 20th Ironman distance raceI also love ultra running and have enjoyed great challenges such as Western States 100 miler and Dragon’s Back in Wales.  I may not be fast, but I do have a huge wealth of learning from interesting challenges ranging from heat stroke to hypothermia and even arriving at races with missing parts of my bikeI once used a rock from the beach and some electrical tape to keep my seat in place at Ironman Portugal.   

    Favorite discipline to compete in: I love all three 

    Why coaching: My favourite thing about coaching is helping people overcome the challenges to achieve  their dreams and optimal performanceHowever,  that doesn’t just mean fast Ironman triathletes chasing Hawaii.   Some of my favourite coaching moments have been teaching someone how to ride a bike in a carpark who eventually competed at age group nationals in duathlon and supporting someone who was so scared of the open water they were in tears for the first couple of swims but managed to go on and do an Ironman. 

    Favourite discipline to coach: Running 

    Top coaching tip: Recovery is a training session – not laziness!    Find the right balance of intensity and recovery – triathletes tend to go too hard or too easy and not factor in recovery properly 

    Other hobbies: Food and cooking – I have taken cooking classes in four different countries 

    Desert Island disc: A Mindfulness Meditation Soundtrack so that I could simply just be in the moment. 

    Something I always pack when competing: More of a packing tip – I always take my pedals,  shoes and helmet with me as cabin baggage – if everything  else doesn’t I arrive I always figure I could borrow a bike and get on with it 😊

Shirley Wilkinson

  •  Occupation: Ground Operations Manager at Farnborough Airport. 

    Coaching qualifications: BTF Triathlon Level 2, Indoor Cycling Instructor, Strength and Conditioning and currently completing Level 2 Diploma course.  

    Why triathlon / multisport: I wanted to try something different. Having played Netball all my life it was taking its toll on my knees and ankles. Running filled a gap for a while but I got bored with pavement pounding. I’d always been a good swimmer and had been coerced into trying a Sprint triathlon by a group of commuters on my regular train journey. I like the variety of training and camaraderie of triathlon and am constantly inspired by our club athletes and the variety of events we enter and travel to.  

    When started competing: 2015 – Henley on Thames using a mountain bike! 

    Palmares (competition results):  

    AJ Bell Leeds World Triathlon Championship Series 2022 (Sunday) 1st in Age Group 

    Northumberland Festival of Sport 2022 – 4th in Age Group (Qualified for Team GB) 

    Windsor Sprint Tri 2018 – 9th in Age Group 

    Favorite discipline to compete in: I chop and change depending on how my training is going but finishing is right up there 😊  

    Why coaching: I had already been Club Secretary since 2018 and loved being part of the Club. When the club needed more coaches I volunteered to help the club primarily but as injuries become more frequent and lasting, it made sense. I was also heavily involved in the RAF Netball team for a few years so knew I would enjoy coaching. 

    Favourite discipline to coach: Swimming, a deceptively technical sport where tiny little tweaks can make such an improvement. 

    Top coaching tip: Listen to your body a rest day means REST. Also remember nutrition and sleep also play a part in your performance.  

    Other hobbies: Taking part in Body Balance classes, Cooking, travelling, reading crime novels 

    Desert Island disc: John Mayer – Belief 

    Something I always pack when competing: Single hole punch for the race numbers. Talcum powder for inside cycle shoes and something warm to put on after racing.  

David Pinkney

  •  Occupation:  Retired 

    Coaching qualifications:  Level 2 

    Why triathlon / multisport: Much more of a challenge 

    When started competing:  2014 

    Favourite discipline to compete in: Swim 

    Why coaching: To give something back    

    Favourite discipline to coach: Swimming 

    Top coaching tip: Train the mind as well as the body 

    Other hobbies: Languages, travel, skiing, yoga, motor sport, writing software, cooking, mountain biking 

    Desert Island disc: White Room – Cream 

    Something I always pack when competing: Energy gels and chocolate  

Haydn Jones

  •  Occupation: Retired, used to work in publishing 

    Coaching Qualifications: Level 2 Triathlon. ASA Teaching Aquatics Level 1. 

    Why triathlon: I enjoyed multi sports at school: biathlon, triathlon and tetrathlon that were shorter versions of modern pentathlon. I then took up golf for 20 years, but by chance fell back into swimming in my late 30’s. I then started to compete in Masters swim events. A golfing colleague suggested I have a go at the Windsor triathlon in 2006 and so it began. I joined FTC soon after and regularly competed in club, national and qualifier events, although I would now say I am more of a dabbler on the competing side and certainly nothing longer than Standard distance. 

    When started competing: 2006 

    Palmares: GB Age Grouper Qualifier for World Champs (2008 Sprint), 2010 (Standard). 

    Favourite Discipline to compete in: swimming 

    Why coaching: I enjoy seeing people improve 

    Favourite discipline to coach: swimming. 

    Top coaching tip: don’t drop that elbow to get the best swim catch. 

    Other hobbies: golf, conservation volunteering, kayaking and reading. 

    Desert Island disc: Blue Monday, New Order 

    Something I always pack when competing: toe covers for your bike shoes – cold toes on an early morning bike section are painful! BTF race card too.

Hendrik De Villiers

  •  Occupation:  Triathlon Coach and Social Care Worker 

  • Coaching qualifications: BTF Level 2, LTS (Learn to Swim) Indoor Cycling Instructor. 

    Why triathlon / multisport: Getting bored at one. Very good cross training and when you injured for one, you can probably still do one of the others. Bonus is the beautiful and interesting places you might see around the world and making friends all over. 

    When started competing1999 

    Competition results: 

    • South African Common Wealth Games and Olympic Team member. 

    • 5 x National and Continental Champion 

    • World Triathlon (ITU) World Cups (1st 2007 and 3rd 2008) and multiple top 10’s. 

    • London Triathlon Champion 2006. 

    • 70.3 – Top 10 Pro 

    My former athletes’ results: Olympic Distance, World Championship Gold and Bronze, 70.3, and full Ironman All-World Athlete top 5% – some racing pro today and excelling. 

    Favorite discipline to compete in: Sprint or Olympic. 

    Why coaching: Giving back to the sport I got so much out of. Being experienced and enjoying it helps, so is leading a healthy life, very beneficial. I generally find the sports crowd more friendly and happier and better to be around. 

    Favourite discipline to coach: I like the variation, but probably open water swimming, hands-on in the water. Joining in on a coffee ride just as good. 

    Top coaching tip: Go on fun and feeling before you get serious and bogged up in the tech stuff. Don’t be too much of a macho and suffer in silence – get a niggle sorted before it becomes an injury – be sensible. 

    Other hobbies: Golf, Gardening Cooking 

    Desert Island disc 

    Something I always pack when competing: Basic race essentials in hand luggage when traveling. Bike tool and basic spare parts and a foot pump. walet and ID, hydration and snacks. 

Jonathan Porter

  •  Occupation:  Senior Economic Adviser / Head of Behavioural Economics at OFCOM. 
  • Coaching qualifications: BTF Level 2 Diploma. 

    Why triathlon / multisport: Looking for a different challenge – and got talked into giving it a go by a neighbour (Sophie Gasson – you have a lot to be responsible for!). 

    When started competing:  About 10-12yrs ago – started by giving Crondall Tri a go. 

    Favorite discipline to compete in: Running – it means that a triathlon is nearly over 

    Why coaching: Started off helping out with the Youth section because my children were training and I had to be there. But then got interested in coaching – and here we are.  

    Favourite discipline to coach: Swimming. Often athletes joining the club are not that confident swimmers or haven’t swum for a long time. It’s rewarding to see them grow in confidence and relatively minor suggestions can make a big difference. 

    Top coaching tip: “Perfect Practice makes Perfect”. That is, you need to switch on and think about what you’re doing when you are practicing to make sure you’re doing it correctly.    

    Other hobbies: cricket (watching and playing), travelling.  

    Desert Island disc: “Walking on Sunshine” – Katerina and the Waves. 

    Something I always pack when competing: my lucky race belt.