Meet Heather Neill: From Vet School to Pro Triathlete

Meet Heather Neill: From Vet School to Pro Triathlete

Introducing a new Purpose professional triathlete to our line up - Heather Neill. Heather is a proud Kiwi living in Napier, New Zealand, nestled within the stunning Hawke's Bay region on the eastern coast of the North Island.

Currently, she's gearing up for her next race, the Taupo 70.3 in December 2023. It's a "local" race for her, and she keeps returning to it in pursuit of that perfect race – a quest for redemption.

Heather also recently made waves in the triathlon world with a remarkable performance at the 70.3 Ironman Langkawi, Malaysia in October this year. Competing in the demanding professional category which was her second time racing in PRO category.

Heather fell in love with Purpose after seeing our product at the expo, and wore it for the first time in this race - clearly with no discomfort issues as she secured an impressive 8th place finish with a timing of 4:59:05.

Purpose too fell in love with Heather’s enthusiasm, determination and strength and we welcomed her to our pro line up in 2024.  

How Heather Began Her Triathlon Journey

Heather’s tryst with triathlons began during her final years at Veterinary School in 2018/2019. A chance encounter with an advertisement for a "have a go" triathlon ignited the spark. Surprisingly, she not only survived but thrived. The thrill was undeniable, leading her to continue her journey into the triathlon world.

In just a short period of time, she has crossed the finish line in around fifteen half Ironman distance races, along with a few sprints and standard distance races. Though she's yet to conquer a full Ironman, she's run two marathons and numerous half-marathon events.

When asked what was her favorite race so far she replied that Tauranga's half event in New Zealand holds a special place in her heart. It was her maiden half Ironman distance race, and she's returned every year since. The event's allure lies in its fun atmosphere and speedy course that allows her to keep improving her times.

Ultimately, triathlons won her over with their inclusivity, welcoming participants of all ages, shapes, sizes, abilities, and backgrounds. The challenge of mastering three distinct disciplines, especially without prior experience, piqued her interest and triathlon's supportive community and the willingness to share knowledge makes it incredibly welcoming.

The swim takes the crown as her least favorite discipline. Its demand for precise technique makes it a daunting task. On windy days, she finds solace in running, while cycling becomes her preference during periods of injury. The beauty of triathlons is that you can always shift your focus.

Race Day Memories and Rituals

Heather’s most cherished moments include completing her first half Ironman, a significant personal accomplishment. Another highlight was securing second place in her age group at her first long-distance World Championships in Pontevedra, Spain.

In contrast, her not-so-great memories involve a race where her aerobars broke and another where she almost missed the start due to a mistaken alarm!

Her race day essentials include a hearty breakfast of oats, a thorough gear check, donning her Purpose Tri suit, and sometimes getting into the groove with motivating music. Nervousness is still a familiar companion, but she says it's all part of the game.

Balancing Work, Triathlon, Family and Life

Her juggling act is made possible thanks to her supportive partner. They make the most of their time together, and she says she is fortunate not to have children yet as it simplifies the equation.

Staying connected with family members through digital means helps bridge the geographical gaps. As a full-time companion animal veterinary surgeon, her work takes up most of her daytime hours, occasionally requiring after-hours emergency coverage, which can temporarily affect her training.

Staying Motivated and Advice to Newbie Triathletes 

Triathlons serve as her sanity amidst the rigors of her day job. The anticipation of returning home after a challenging day to embark on a run or a vigorous Zwift session on her indoor trainer is invigorating.

Training is her daily highlight, and the only workouts she regrets are the ones she skips. Training with like-minded individuals and listening to her body are her secrets to staying motivated.

She advises newbies that you don't need to be a pro from the start; you just need to start. Triathlon involves a fair share of gear, but you don't need the fanciest equipment to begin.

A positive attitude and a smile are your most crucial assets. Everyone has to start somewhere, and the important people in your life will be proud of your efforts, regardless of the outcome.

The only workouts she regrets are the ones she skips. Training with like-minded individuals and listening to her body are her secrets to staying motivated.

She advises newbies that you don't need to be a pro from the start; you just need to start. Triathlon involves a fair share of gear, but you don't need the fanciest equipment to begin.

A positive attitude and a smile are your most crucial assets. Everyone has to start somewhere, and the important people in your life will be proud of your efforts, regardless of the outcome.

Fun Facts about Heather

  • Triathlon idols: If Heather could form a relay team with any triathlete in the world, she'd choose Lucy Charles-Barclay for her incredible swimming prowess after her recent Ironman World Championship performance.With Anne Haug's running skills as part of the team, it would leave her in charge of the cycling. She also holds immense respect for Daniela Ryf and Jan Frodeno.
  • Cartoon idol: Heather may not identify with any classic cartoon character, but she does identify with "Donkey" from the Shrek movies. Full of energy, loyal, cheerful, an affinity for waffles, and a penchant for spontaneous songs – she sees a bit of herself in Donkey.
  • Dream Locale: New Zealand has her heart, but if she were to explore a warmer place, it wouldn't be Australia due to its critters that have a habit of nibbling on folks. So, she'll stick with the beauty of Aotearoa.
  • Beyond Triathlon: She ticked off "run a marathon" from her bucket list when she was just 20. Now, she aims to explore more, travel, and make connections. She dreams of exploring the diverse landscapes and cultures of countries like Canada and Japan. Her goals revolve around spreading happiness, supporting and educating others, and encouraging them to chase their dreams.

Follow Heather's journey at Team Purpose 

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published

Special instructions for seller
Liquid error (snippets/cart-drawer line 228): product form must be given a product

What are you looking for?


Try:  Tri Suit  Running Singlet  T-shirt  Cycling Jersey  Visor  Long sleeve  Shorts