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Rebecca Hoschke on juggling two careers and her passion for the sport

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With a third at Ironman Western Australia in December 2012 off the back of a solid run Rebecca Hoschke would be wrong to not aim for something similar at Ironman Melbourne this weekend. We caught up with her on the week before one of her biggest races of 2013. Hoschke won the Huskisson Long Course in 2012, Cairns half in 2011, 5th Ironman Cairns 2012, 1st at the Port Douglas half iron distance triathlon amongst many other great results.

A select group of pros get the lions share of the media so it is always good to have a chat to some of the athletes who quite often fly under the radar. Hoschke has such a passion for the sport and a great attitude that never waivers. We caught up with her during the week to find out a bit more about what drives her and how she made her way in to the sport.

TriZone: Tell us about your 3rd at Ironman Western Australia.

Rebecca Hoschke: Ironman Cairns June 2012 (5th) was a break through race – there was a lot I took away from this experience to further develop my potential.  I felt this result was another step forward towards putting the pieces of the puzzle together and race Ironman at a level I knew I was capable of.  I had a solid period of racing over Autumn 2012 followed by a specific 6 week IM prep leading into IMWA – my mind and body felt in great shape and I had a good feeling I was going to improve my result from Cairns.  My goal for IMWA was to remain connected with myself- to race smart, hard and with passion – a zone that I love and pushes my absolute limits.  To finish on the podium (3rd) and only a few minutes away from Bek (Rebecca Keat) and Britta (Martin) was a huge achievement for me – a result which exceeded my expectations and one I’m really proud of.

TriZone: When did you start racing triathlons and what got you started?

Rebecca on the way to running herself in to 3rd at IMWA 2012

Rebecca on the way to running herself in to 3rd at IMWA 2012

Rebecca Hoschke: After a 4 month backpacking trip around South America (2003/04) I needed to re-ground myself back in Sydney with my passion of running and signed up to Sydney marathon 2004!   I met a whole heap of triathletes in my running squad (Barry Golding Running Academy, Manly) and was instantly challenged by the sport.  Within a short matter of time, a new goal was created – Ironman Australia (have always been someone who jumps into the deep end of life!).  My first triathlon was Forster Half Ironman 2005 as a qualifier to my first Ironman experience – Ironman Australia 2006.  Grant Giles has been my coach and mentor from the beginning of my triathlon journey and has been instrumental to my progression in the sport and the athlete I have become today.

TZ: Who were your early influencers?

Bec: Two of my biggest inspirations right from the start included fellow triathletes and good friends Travis Bottomley and Patricia Cretin (Warringah Triathlon Club (Northern Beaches), Sydney).  Mel Ashton, Belinda Granger, Macca, Crowie and PJ are my local Aussie IM heros!  Nic Ward and her positive and supportive words of encouragement to have a go at stepping up from age group to open – which felt daunting at the time!  Pushing myself outside my comfort zone was a significant turning point, which opened new opportunity and challenge towards my progression as a professional triathlete.  I’m also a die-hard Chrissie Wellington fan, as close friends know well J (we share the same birthday, age and middle name which I thought was pretty cool).

I grew up on a rural property, northern NSW (little place called Kentucky) and went to school and University (UNE) in Armidale.  I have a BA of Urban and Regional Planning.  I’ve been working in Local Government, Sydney for 14+ years and currently work part time as an executive assessment officer (town planning/development assessment) for Ku-ring-gai Council who are incredibly supportive towards my working/triathlon lifestyle.

TZ: How has it been juggling a career and training full time for Iron distance races? Especially when you know you are going up against full time professional athletes?

Bec: Juggling a town planning career and pursing a passion in endurance sport is incredibly challenging – but probably reflects my personality – all or nothing, loves a challenge and to live life to the fullest!  I have an incredibly supportive husband who shares a common love in sport and the outdoors and have an amazing family, group of friends and a team of sporting specialists and practitioners behind me.  The most important thing is to make it work for me and get as much out of every experience and challenge as possible and enjoy the ride which comes with it J rather than focus or compare to others (situations which are outside my control).

With my improvements in the sport over time and change in sport/career goals, I find myself often re-assessing my lifestyle balance to stay fit, healthy and happy in all aspects of my life.  In 2011, I went part time at Council (4 days a week), which was a positive step forward towards managing the demands of the sport and my career as a town planner.  With my recent result at IMWA I have needed to re-assess my lifestyle balance again and make further adjustments to give myself the opportunity and space to continue developing my potential in the sport.   Living in Sydney doesn’t allow me to go full time professional, but I feel I’m very lucky to have a supportive work place, which is flexible towards my lifestyle and passion in life.

TZ: How do you get the most out of your training time?

Bec: Time management is critical in terms of organising training around my lifestyle.  Every training session and training block has a purpose – I’ve been working under the guidance of Grant Giles, Aeromax since 2006 and find his training philosophy works really well for me and program design is tailored well to my lifestyle.

TZ: What are your favourite training sessions?

Bec: I have always LOVED running for as long as I can remember!  Cheap and its free! Its my space and I love being outdoors, my favourite would be aerobic endurance run sessions with back end effort around the northern beaches.

TZ: What are your most memorable triathlon moments?

Bec: 1. Finishing my first Ironman 2006!  It was a pretty horrendous day (a lot of toilet stops!!!) and you never forget your first one!

2. Ironman Australia 2011 and seeing my husband, parents and close friends at the finish line and qualifying for Hawaii World Ironman Championships.

3. Finishing IMWA 2012 in 3rd place as a professional triathlete – a result I’m really proud of, reflecting how far I have come over the years – racing at a level and achieving results I never dreamed were possible when first starting the sport.

TZ: Why do you do Iron distance triathlons?

Bec: I love the mental and physical challenge which comes with the Ironman experience.  I see it very much as an individual sport, I’m my biggest competitor and I love personal challenge.  I also love the community spirit and atmosphere which comes with Ironman. it’s a special and unique experience, a personal journey which has had a huge influence on the person I am today.

TZ: Do you have a race strategy that you can tell us a bit about?

To race with a smile and go for it! 🙂 Trust your fitness, take risks, race by feel and without limits!  For me that is racing to my ultimate potential.  I have no fear in blowing up because you learn so much from every experience, how far you can push yourself to working out areas in your training which need improvement.  Gotta have a crack rather than look back wondering!

TZ: You have two more 70.3 Ironman events scheduled for this year plus your favourite race, Challenge Roth. What are your goals for these races?

Bec: I absolutely LOVE Challenge Roth (the best Ironman race on this planet!) but I may race IM Frankfurt as I like new challenges and racing events I haven’t raced before.  My goal for every race is to get as much out of every experience, continue working on areas that need improvement and test the work put in, through a racing environment.

I love racing and racing often – I’ve chosen high profile races (regional championships) this year to throw myself in the deep end and race amongst pro girls who are my inspiration and motivation in the sport to continue pushing my own personal potential.  You always walk away learning something from every experience and I love taking up any opportunity I can to get amongst it.

TZ: What are your long term plans?

Bec: As a professional triathlete my ultimate goal is to continue to improve my potential in the sport and have fun doing it – I’m addicted to good health, personal challenge and exercise with a smile J! I’ve recently obtained my Level 1 Coaching Certificate and once I feel I’ve achieved my own personal aspirations racing as a professional athlete I hope to continue being part of this sport and give back through mentoring and coaching and supporting the triathlon community where I can.  I’m also looking forward to having a family one day 🙂

With a third at Ironman Western Australia in December 2012 off the back of a solid run Skinfit sponsored athlete Rebecca Hoschke would be wrong to not aim for something similar at Ironman Melbourne this weekend. We caught up with her on the week before one of her biggest races of 2013.

Tell us about your 3rd at Ironman Western Australia.

Ironman Cairns June 2012 (5th) was a break through race – there was a lot I took away from this experience to further develop my potential.  I felt this result was another step forward towards putting the pieces of the puzzle together and race Ironman at a level I knew I was capable of.  I had a solid period of racing over Autumn 2012 followed by a specific 6 week IM prep leading into IMWA – my mind and body felt in great shape and I had a good feeling I was going to improve my result from Cairns.  My goal for IMWA was to remain connected with myself- to race smart, hard and with passion – a zone that I love and pushes my absolute limits.  To finish on the podium (3rd) and only a few minutes away from Bek (Rebecca Keat) and Britta (Martin) was a huge achievement for me – a result which exceeded my expectations and one I’m really proud of.

When did you start racing triathlons and what got you started?

After a 4 month backpacking trip around South America (2003/04) I needed to re-ground myself back in Sydney with my passion of running and signed up to Sydney marathon 2004!   I met a whole heap of triathletes in my running squad (Barry Golding Running Academy, Manly) and was instantly challenged by the sport.  Within a short matter of time, a new goal was created – Ironman Australia (have always been someone who jumps into the deep end of life!).  My first triathlon was Forster Half Ironman 2005 as a qualifier to my first Ironman experience – Ironman Australia 2006.  Grant Giles has been my coach and mentor from the beginning of my triathlon journey and has been instrumental to my progression in the sport and the athlete I have become today.

Who were your early influencers?

Two of my biggest inspirations right from the start included fellow triathletes and good friends Travis Bottomley and Patricia Cretin (Warringah Triathlon Club (Northern Beaches), Sydney).  Mel Ashton, Belinda Granger, Macca, Crowie and PJ are my local Aussie IM heros!  Nic Ward and her positive and supportive words of encouragement to have a go at stepping up from age group to open – which felt daunting at the time!  Pushing myself outside my comfort zone was a significant turning point, which opened new opportunity and challenge towards my progression as a professional triathlete.  I’m also a die-hard Chrissie Wellington fan, as close friends know well J (we share the same birthday, age and middle name which I thought was pretty cool).

I grew up on a rural property, northern NSW (little place called Kentucky) and went to school and University (UNE) in Armidale.  I have a BA of Urban and Regional Planning.  I’ve been working in Local Government, Sydney for 14+ years and currently work part time as an executive assessment officer (town planning/development assessment) for Ku-ring-gai Council who are incredibly supportive towards my working/triathlon lifestyle.

How has it been juggling a career and training full time for Iron distance races? Especially when you know you are going up against full time professionals?

Juggling a town planning career and pursing a passion in endurance sport is incredibly challenging – but probably reflects my personality – all or nothing, loves a challenge and to live life to the fullest!  I have an incredibly supportive husband who shares a common love in sport and the outdoors and have an amazing family, group of friends and a team of sporting specialists and practitioners behind me.  The most important thing is to make it work for me and get as much out of every experience and challenge as possible and enjoy the ride which comes with it J rather than focus or compare to others (situations which are outside my control).

With my improvements in the sport over time and change in sport/career goals, I find myself often re-assessing my lifestyle balance to stay fit, healthy and happy in all aspects of my life.  In 2011, I went part time at Council (4 days a week), which was a positive step forward towards managing the demands of the sport and my career as a town planner.  With my recent result at IMWA I have needed to re-assess my lifestyle balance again and make further adjustments to give myself the opportunity and space to continue developing my potential in the sport.   Living in Sydney doesn’t allow me to go full time professional, but I feel I’m very lucky to have a supportive work place, which is flexible towards my lifestyle and passion in life.

How do you get the most out of your training time?

Time management is critical in terms of organising training around my lifestyle.  Every training session and training block has a purpose – I’ve been working under the guidance of Grant Giles, Aeromax since 2006 and find his training philosophy works really well for me and program design is tailored well to my lifestyle.

What are your favourite training sessions?

I have always LOVED running for as long as I can remember!  Cheap and its free! Its my space and I love being outdoors, my favourite would be aerobic endurance run sessions with back end effort around the northern beaches.

What are your most memorable triathlon moments?

1. Finishing my first Ironman 2006!  It was a pretty horrendous day (a lot of toilet stops!!!) and you never forget your first one!  2. Ironman Australia 2011 and seeing my husband, parents and close friends at the finish line and qualifying for Hawaii World Ironman Championships.  3. Finishing IMWA 2012 in 3rd place as a professional triathlete – a result I’m really proud of, reflecting how far I have come over the years – racing at a level and achieving results I never dreamed were possible when first starting the sport.

Why do you do Iron distance triathlons?

I love the mental and physical challenge which comes with the Ironman experience.  I see it very much as an individual sport, I’m my biggest competitor and I love personal challenge.  I also love the community spirit and atmosphere which comes with Ironman. it’s a special and unique experience, a personal journey which has had a huge influence on the person I am today.

Do you have a race strategy that you can tell us a bit about?

To race with a smile and go for it! J Trust your fitness, take risks, race by feel and without limits!  For me that is racing to my ultimate potential.  I have no fear in blowing up because you learn so much from every experience, how far you can push yourself to working out areas in your training which need improvement.  Gotta have a crack rather than look back wondering!

You have two more 70.3 Ironman events scheduled for this year plus your favourite race, Challenge Roth. What are your goals for these races?

I absolutely LOVE Challenge Roth (the best Ironman race on this planet!) but I may race IM Frankfurt as I like new challenges and racing events I haven’t raced before.  My goal for every race is to get as much out of every experience, continue working on areas that need improvement and test the work put in, through a racing environment.

I love racing and racing often – I’ve chosen high profile races (regional championships) this year to throw myself in the deep end and race amongst pro girls who are my inspiration and motivation in the sport to continue pushing my own personal potential.  You always walk away learning something from every experience and I love taking up any opportunity I can to get amongst it.

What are your long term plans?

As a professional triathlete my ultimate goal is to continue to improve my potential in the sport and have fun doing it – I’m addicted to good health, personal challenge and exercise with a smile J! I’ve recently obtained my Level 1 Coaching Certificate and once I feel I’ve achieved my own personal aspirations racing as a professional athlete I hope to continue being part of this sport and give back through mentoring and coaching and supporting the triathlon community where I can.  I’m also looking forward to having a family one day 🙂

 

Karl is a keen age group triathlete who races more than he trains. Good life balance! Karl works in the media industry in Australia and is passionate about the sport of triathlon.

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News & Racing

Challenge Roma – The First Big European Challenge Event In 2018

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On April 15, 2018, will be Challenge Roma’s second edition. After its debut in 2017, the Italian capital will be again protagonist of great international triathlon in a new location, the Rome Marina “Porto Turistico di Roma”, with new distances: 1.9 km swimming, 90 km bike, 21 km running. A middle distance like Challenge’s primary races, Challenge Roma will be the first European race of the year too. A chance for triathletes from all over the world to test their athletic preparation, in a very fast and beautiful path, in Roman Spring beginning.

Porto Turistico di Roma will also be home of the Expo Village, which will host numerous side activities for the entire weekend starting from Friday. The involvement of schools and local institutions, and then go on Saturday with the Sprint triathlon, the paratriathlon super sprint, valid as the second stage of the Italian Championship, before the Challenge Roma race on Sunday morning.

Challenge Roma Location

For the second edition of Challenge Roma, a new location was selected: the Porto Turistico di Roma. In fact, Rome extends its borders to the coasts of the Tyrrhenian sea, and its marina is a central point for many activities, thanks to the excellent sea-water quality. Completely renovated, the Marina is close to the Leonardo Da Vinci Fiumicino Airport, and offers a lot of public services including restaurants, shops, children spaces and a long, romantic walk through piers and boats.

Protagonists

What will kick off at the Challenge Roma will be a high-level parterre. Attracted by the charm of the capital and by the calendar that places the race as the first test of the 2018 season in Europe, lots of pro’s are keen to join Challenge Roma second edition and the fair weather of spring.

Among others, the Slovenian Jaroslav Kovacic, 34, the British Will Clarke, 33, the German Andreas Dreitz, 34 years winner of Cervia (Italy) full distance. But they will not be the only ones. Also, the Germans Alexander Schilling, 30, and Michael Goehner, 38, the Spaniards Inaki Baldellou, 29, and Pablo Dapena Gonzalez, 30, the Russian Georgii Kaurov, 25, and the young British George Goodwin, 22 years.

Among the women, all eyes will be on the Italian medium-distance champion Marta Bernardi, 28 years old and the new name of the international triathlon. Two skilled athletes will challenge her: the Dutch Yvonne Van Vlerken, 39, and Britain’s Caroline Livesey, 38 years old, and Sofie Goos, 28 years old from Belgium. In addition to them also the Hungarian Gabriella Zelinka, 27, the young Russian Mariia Bibicheva, just 21 years old, the Czech Simona Krivankova, 35, the two Belgian Sofie Goos and Karen Steurs, respectively 37 and 38 years, and the Croatian Sonja Skevin, 23 years old.

Paratriathlon, 2nd Stage Italian Championship

The long weekend of the Challenge Roma will host Saturday, April 2 at 2 pm the 2nd stage of the Italian Paratriathlon championship on the Super Sprint distance (0.4 km of swimming, 10 km of bike, 2.5 km of running). At the start over 40 athletes for a parterre of the highest level led by the Rio 2016 Olympic bronze Giovanni Achenza in addition to Italian champion pts5 Gianfilippo Mirabile and multi-champion champion Veronica Plebani.

Challenge Roma Sprint

Saturday, April 14 will be staged, starting at 10.30, also a race Sprint distance (750 m swimming, 20 km cycling and 5 km running) open to all members of the Italian and International Triathlon Federation. The route will develop almost entirely within the Port of Rome, with the exception of the cycling village that will “stretch” on the seafront in a 5 km circuit to be repeated 4 times. The stretch is completely flat.

Time Schedule

It all starts on Friday, April 13, from 10 am with the Duathlon School promotional event, dedicated to schools: children will compete in the area inside the Marina.

From 2 pm, the afternoon will be dedicated to the public with the opening of the Triathlon Expo, where brands and technical equipment dedicated to the discipline will be exhibited. Saturday, April 14th we start with Challenge Sprint triathlon at 10.30 a.m., followed by Paratriathlon Super Sprint at 2 p.m., valid as the second stage of the Italian Championship series and then finish at 4 p.m. with the Challenge Duathlon Kids dedicated to kids and youngsters of Lazio’s triathlon schools. Also, in the afternoon, starting at 4.30 p.m., Challenge Roma briefing (Ita and Eng) in view of the main event of the following day.

Sunday, April 15 will be the day of the Challenge Roma, which starts at 13.15 am. From 5.15 it is expected the leading athletes arrival who will be rewarded immediately with the Flower Ceremony, a characteristic symbol of CHALLENGEFAMILY.

The long triathlon weekend will close up in the evening with the Award Ceremony and live music “farewell party” starting at 9 pm.

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Gear & Tech

Review: SunGod PaceBreaker sunglasses – Look Cool While Dropping Watt Bombs

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SunGod sunglasses are a relatively new player to the market, a successful, UK based, crowd-funded business who’s appeal is focused on the ability to customise the glasses online at an affordable price.

SunGod was founded in 2013 and developed from a frustration that to get quality lenses that would be able to withstand a sports/adventure lifestyle.

They launched their first product, SunGod Classic, as their first complete custom online build, with polycarbonate polarised lenses and TR90 memory polymer frames. This campaign exploded, with SunGods being shipped to 93 countries and making 10x the initial funding target and becoming the largest crowdfunded project of its kind in the UK.

Simple to use interface, customise away.

Jumping on to the website is simple enough, and you get to choose from a variety of frames and styles. The Classics and Renegades focus more on traditional streetwear, extreme sports etc., while the Revolts are focused on snow sports. All of the range bears the funky looking Limited editions, are fully customizable.  As triathletes wouldn’t be seen dead wearing non-race specific gear, we’re going to focus the review on the PaceBreakers – wraparounds focused on riding and running (swimming not tested!)

What design do you ask?

I was lucky enough to get to design a pair of sunglasses via the simple to understand interface. Simple enough in fact that my five-year-old daughter created my first pair below.

From idea….

To reality…!

Going through the interface, you get to choose the frame colour, lens type (4KO Polarised or not – more on that later), icons on the side and ear sock colour (the tips of your glasses). If your creativity is failing you, you can also choose from a set series of best sellers.

The whole process takes around 30 seconds of effort with 20 minutes of procrastination around the right colours to match with your complexion and handbag.

My second pair was a much more straightforward affair focusing on the traditional grey look.

Got to have grey in Melbourne.

The glasses ship from the UK and for me, turned up in 3 days, a surprising and welcome change.

What’s in the box?

SunGod indeed go above and beyond with the packaging and its contents

Funky looking box

As you would expect you get a box with the sunglasses included, but you also get a spare nose clip, a case which also doubles as a cleaning rag and a truckload of stickers to stick around the place. Its quite a few freebies given the low cost of the product.

Quite the haul

4KO pace lens with triple scratch resistance

SunGod claims that the polarised lens is both triple scratch resistant and will enhance both visibility and field of view in both low light and bright conditions. We obviously couldn’t test them in a lab with serious equipment, but we took the glasses out on a treacherous, wet and windy early morning Melbourne ride around the Dandenong mountains in peak hour traffic.

Compared to my Jawbreakers I certainly felt that their visibility in early morning sun up (6am) conditions was improved.  The lens also survived being bounced along the road at high speed when I forgot to put them back on during a decent, with no scratches if I may add.  So science aside, these sunglasses certainly did the job during a challenging day out.

What differentiates SunGod from the competition

SunGod has a few key differentiated points.

Firstly is the price. For around $110 – $130 dollars you get a solid pair of high-performance sunglasses with features to match and outperform glasses twice their price.

The glasses come with a lifetime warranty so if they break they will replace them free of charge. A lofty claim that I haven’t tested but certainly a welcome one – which some of the major players struggle to offer.

The glasses are made from adventure proof flexible rubber which allows the frames to be flexed, and as above bounced along the road, without damage. Which as a clumsy guy is a great feature.

Overall

Simply put, SunGod makes a great pair of sunglasses, both comfortable and high performing, you cannot beat them for value. The customisation feature is excellent and has got my triathlon team all lining up to get the team colours shipped over. I didn’t have anything negative to say about them, to the point where I’m replacing my tried and trusted jawbreakers with these for both racing and training.

Here is a link to the PaceBreakers

  • Price
  • Features
  • Durability
  • Overall

Summary

Simply a great set of sunglasses and are packed with features and value.

Pros
- Well priced
- Great feature set
- Customisable

Cons
- Carbon (Triathlete staple) look frame appears out of stock
- Were clutching at straws to find anything wrong aren't we!

5.0
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News & Racing

Challenge Family Introduces A World Ranking For Pro-athletes

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Challenge has decided to expand the successful European Money Ranking in 2018 to a so-called Challenge World Ranking. This means that professional Athletes can earn points not only in European races but also in races outside of Europe. The earned points count up in a final ranking at the end of the season with a total bonus prize purse of $165.000.

With this World Ranking, Challenge rewards the pro-athletes racing the series and results in having the best professionals racing head-to-head in the Challenge races. “We strongly believe that the professional Athletes are the ambassadors of our wonderful sport. We have seen strong racing and amazing winners in the European Ranking the last two years. We are happy to extend this to a worldwide ranking first time in 2018 ” says Zibi Szlufcik, CEO of Challenge.

The first races to be added to the ranking in the 2018 season are Challenge Taiwan, Challenge Sangil (Mexico), Challenge Aasia-Pacific Championship (Taiwan) and Challenge Daytona (USA). All European races remain part of the ranking.

The total prize purse $165.000 for the worldwide ranking will pay 5 deep for both male and female athletes. The overall winners will take home $30.000. Second place will earn $20.000, third and fourth place $15.000 and $12.000 consecutively and fifth place winner will pocket $5.000. In the event of a tie, the prize money will be averaged between the two athletes and corresponding places.

The points system that leads to the final ranking will remain the same as last year’s European ranking. This is based on points earned by the athlete’s six best Challenge race results of the season, of which no more than two can be long distance races, which earn double points. The Championship is also included in the World Ranking, with more points to collect then regular middle distance races.

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Laura Siddall Looks To Go Back To Back at Ironman Australia

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The 2018 season has kicked off with a bang for Laura Siddall breaking through to pick up the Ironman New Zealand title in March, and she is looking to continue her winning form when she heads to Port Macquarie (6 May) to defend her Ironman Australia crown.

Siddall, who represented England as a junior in 400m hurdles and netball, began her love affair with triathlon while she was working in Australia on a two-year contract with Shell Oil and she was soon on a rampage loading her trophy case full of age-group championships across the globe over all distances.

Siddall eventually made the leap the pro ranks and continued her love affair with Port Macquarie that started with her first half distance triathlon at Ironman 70.3 Port Macquarie back in October 2009.

“Ironman Australia will be my last race in the Southern Hemisphere before I migrate north for the European summer. It is an important race for me, as I won last year, so want to come back and show my support for the event and the people of Port Macquarie.”

“It is also important to me because the race has so much history and was very much part of my early days in the sport. It is pretty much a local race where I started triathlon, so many friends will be participating and competing as well, over both the full and 70.3 distances.”

“While Ironman Australia may be an early season race for many, it will be my fourth race of 2018 and second Ironman, having won Ironman New Zealand in March. Expectations as always to continue the build in my training and race performance globally as an athlete.”

“Ironman Australia is very much part of that development and learning. It’s always about transferring the training into the race and executing a performance that I can be proud of and pushes myself to the limits. If I focus on that, then hopefully I am somewhere in the right place at the end of the day.”

“Ironman Australia is one of the historic races around the world. It truly comes alive with the amazing support in Port Macquarie. The course is tough and gritty but has wonderful crowd encouragement.  With the likes of Matthew Flinders Hill on the bike, the tri club alley on the run, it really does make the races pretty special and a brilliant atmosphere,” Laura said.

This year is the 40th anniversary year of the birth of Ironman and Laura is thankful for the huge influence the sport has been on her life as an athlete.

“It is awesome to see the sport grow over the past few years, not just the 40 years. If I think back to when I was growing up in the UK, I didn’t have a clue about triathlon. It was only when I was in Australia, where the sport was, at that time so much bigger, that I discovered it. But now, almost 10years later, I see how big the sport is in the UK, thanks to the likes of Chrissie Wellington but also the Brownlee brothers.”

“In the early years of my time in the sport, my friends and family wouldn’t have heard of triathlon, yet now I have all sorts of people contacting me saying they’ve signed up for a race or event and are training for a triathlon. It’s fantastic.”

“I started the sport as a complete beginner, and I’m now a professional and grateful for the opportunity to follow something I love, and to live my passion day to day. I travel the world training and racing and I know I’m incredibly privileged to do this. It is a lifestyle and has a wonderful community. I’ve met so many amazing people around the world, and heard so many incredible stories. It has given me some fantastic experiences and ‘pinch myself’ moments that I could never have believed or dreamed of,” she said.

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Australia Takes Gold in Commonwealth Games Mixed Relay Triathlon, Gentle Celebrates Big Comeback

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The Australian mixed relay team win gold at the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast. Photo: Triathlon Australia/Delly Carr

The Australian team won on its own turf in Saturday’s Gold Coast Commonwealth Games mixed team relay triathlon. The team included Ashleigh Gentle, Matthew Hauser, Jake Birtwhistle, and Gillian Backhouse. Birtwhistle secured the victory in 01:17:36, 52 seconds ahead of England’s team and 01:52 ahead of the bronze winners of New Zealand.

For Birtwhistle, the mixed relay marked a Commonwealth Games podium streak after he nearly closed a wide gap behind South Africa’s Henri Schoeman, in the run leg of Thursday’s men’s triathlon, and won a silver. For Gentle, it was a major comeback story after she missed the Thursday podium by two positions.

Ashleigh Gentle Excels in Relay

Gentle, the third member on the course, made up for a 15-second deficit in the 250m swim leg by handing Birtwhistle a 39-second lead during the 1.5km run, easing his sprint to victory.

Gentle didn’t have it easy. She struggled with Thursday’s silver winner, Jessica Learmonth of Britain, during the entire 7km bike leg, which they completed together. Learmonth had a slight mishap while dismounting her bike, giving Gentle an opportunity to sprint ahead of her in the run before handing the final run stretch to her teammate.

A Tough Week for the Brownlee Brothers

Birtwhistle commanded a solid, and growing lead, over two-time Olympic champion, Alistair Brownlee of England. Brownlee had a rough week after realizing he did not give a prior calf injury enough time to recover. His brother, Jonny, was also recovering from a leg injury.

Who Australia was Up Against

England had a truly all-star team. Other than the Brownlee brothers and Learmonth, the team also included Vicky Holland. In the individual triathlon race, Learmonth and Holland claimed silver and bronze behind Bermuda’s Flora Duffy, who finished in 00:56:50, 43 seconds ahead of Learmonth.

The New Zealand quartet had Tayler Reid, Nicole van der Kaay, Andrew Hewitt, and Ryan Sissons. Sissons, a last minute replacement for Tony Dodds, claimed fifth in the individual triathlon. Dodds finished in 16th. Pundits had high expectations for Hewitt this year, but she finished 13thin the individual race.

 

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XTERRA New Zealand returns to Rotorua for 16th year this Saturday

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Sam Osborne and Jacqui Allen are back to defend their elite titles at the 16th annual XTERRA New Zealand Championship race at Lake Tikitapu in Rotorua on Saturday.

For Osborne, a Rotorua native and the reigning XTERRA Asia-Pacific Tour Champion, it marks the start of another ambitious season of XTERRA racing.

“I’m feeling good & ready,” said Osborne, who won five majors and finished second in the European Tour rankings last year.  “I’ve had a very consistent block of training with no interruptions, and that can only be a good thing.”

Osborne will need to come out of the gates sharp if he is to defend the hometown crown in front of a raucous crowd sure to be filled with his family and friends. The field is stacked with Kiwi greats and Aussie star Ben Allen who has 18 career wins of his own, including two in Rotorua (2012 and 2013).

“Yeah, I’ve seen Benny’s made the trip over earlier than normal, so he’s clearly giving the race and the course a great deal of respect,” said Osborne.  “There’s plenty of big mountain bikers in the field to be concerned about as well. We’re racing at one of the best bike parks in the world and with the swim only being 1km here, it puts a lot of those guys right in the mix. Watch out for Hayden (Wilde) too.  He is coming off a decent racing block with ITU, so you know he’ll be sharp, and he’s not someone you take lightly on the start list.”

Of note, the bike course has seen some significant changes this year, and the new arena is a good one says Osborne.

“The new course is great.  Organizer Frank Clarke has done a good job to get it to flow so well. Rotorua is like a playground of trails so to have a course that links up some of the best cross-country trails we have means it’ll be one of the best bike courses in the world. The talk around the course is its a bit flatter than before but there is a lot of power climbing on loose gravel in there which is incredibly leg sapping. And re-introducing Split Enz was a great move, it’s a trail that has got a lot of free speed if you invest in working the bike down it.  It’s pretty physical to ride it fast but that’s the sort of stuff the mountain bikers can strut their stuff on.”

Wilde, a two-time 15-19 division XTERRA World Champion, finished three minutes behind Osborne in second-place last year and says he’s excited to ditch the road for the dirt this weekend.

“Can’t wait to get back on the trails where it all started and compete at XTERRA again,” said Wilde. “For me, this will be my only XTERRA this year as from May to August I’ll be in Europe racing WTS and World Cups to get as much experience and racing in as possible. I am finding the road stuff fast and exciting, but I miss XTERRA.  Nothing compares to the off-road XTERRA feel and that’s where my triathlon career started so I just love it and can’t wait to race this weekend.”

Keep an eye out for Wilde, as his goal is the 2020 games and the pursuit of the Olympic dream, “but a return to Maui someday is in the cards for sure, I love that place,” he said.

The seemingly endless string of super strong Kiwi XTERRA racers carries on with the likes of Lewis Ryan, the youngest of the Rotorua crew at just 19-years of age.  Ryan won the overall XTERRA Pan Am Championship amateur title two years ago and will make his elite debut on Saturday.

“Lining up with the big boys from here on out,” said the ever-cheerful Ryan.  “Definitely an awesome opportunity and something I’m super stoked to commit too. Making it even more special is that I’m able to pin on my first pro number at home here in Rotorua, so my excitement levels are peaking!”

Ryan said he grew up watching the “old guard” XTERRA pros and feels honoured to toe the line with the legends.

“I’ve been pre-riding the course the last couple days with Ben and Jacqui Allen and it’s brought back a whole load of memories,” he explained. “I grew up watching Ben have some epic battles here and as a kid who knew nothing about triathlon and was just at XTERRA Rotorua to support my Dad, these guys like Ben made the sport look so attractive.  It’ll be special to line up beside one of the good guys of the sport who I’ve idolized since day one.”

As for who he thinks the favourites should be, Ryan says “it’s Sam, Hayden, Ben and Olly Shaw. Olly (also from Rotorua) is always a player here, and they’re all phenomenal athletes.  In terms of the actual race, everyone knows it’s going to be a fast swim. Ben and Sam have proven themselves as some of the best fish in the sea. Going out onto the new bike course, the race dynamic will be a little bit different to previous years and I think it’ll make for an exciting showdown. There’s going to be plenty of opportunities to put moves in over different sections of the course. There’s no obvious make or break sector so I think we’re just going to have to wait and see what happens. For myself, I’ve got certain sections of trail that seem to have a nice flow about them which should make for some good fun come Saturday. My actual goals are completely different to previous races, as I’m really going into it totally relaxed. It’ll be my first time lining up as a pro, so I just want to enjoy the moment and embrace the atmosphere.”

Other elite men on the line include XTERRA veteran Alex Roberts from Taupo and Rodney Bell from Australia.

In the women’s race, Jacqui Slack from Great Britain will be gunning for her third Rotorua crown (she also won in 2012).

“It’s awesome to be back here in Rotorua,” said Slack, who also won XTERRA Tahiti and finished 2nd on the XTERRA Asia-Pacific Tour last year.  “The weather is being kind and the trails are dry and fast. I’m feeling great and training has been going well so I’m ready to kick off the Asia-Pacific Tour. As always, there will be some solid competition from the Kiwi ladies making sure it’s a close race along with our Aussie lass Penny Slater.”

Of note amongst those Kiwi, ladies is Hannah Wells, who was second to Slack here last year, and Kristy Jennings, the reigning 35-39 XTERRA World Champion who will be making her debut in the elite field on Saturday should injuries she suffered in a bike crash last week subside.

“I’m going to ride the mountain bike course to see how I feel and will make the call then,” said Jennings, who also has XTERRA Danao, Tahiti, and Albay on her docket this season.  “It’s a 50/50 chance of racing right now which is super disappointing, but we’ll see.”

Other female elites on the line include Aussie Leela Hancox, who finished fourth at the XTERRA Asia-Pacific Championship race in Malaysia last year, and Laura Mira from Brazil, who was fourth in the XTERRA Pan Am Pro Series last season.

XTERRA New Zealand is the first of four races on the 2018 XTERRA Asia-Pacific Tour, which heads to the Philippines for the one-day Asia-Pacific Championship race in Danao on April 22, follows with XTERRA Tahiti in Moorea on May 11, and wraps up in Albay (Philippines) on June 17.

XTERRA NEW ZEALAND ALL-TIME ELITE WINNERS
Year Men Women
2003 Sam Mallard Evelyn Willamson
2004 Hamish Carter Sonia Foote
2005 Hamish Carter Sonia Foote
2006 Hamish Carter Gina Ferguson
2007 Tim Wilding Gina Ferguson
2008 Terenzo Bozzone Sonia Foote
2009 Richard Ussher Nicola Leary
2010 Scott Thorne Nicola Leary
2011 Richard Ussher Karen Hanlen
2012 Ben Allen Jacqui Slack
2013 Ben Allen Renata Bucher
2014 Conrad Stoltz Barbara Riveros
2015 Braden Currie Suzie Snyder
2016 Braden Currie Lizzie Orchard
2017 Sam Osborne Jacquie Allen

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