Western Australian triathletes descend on Ironman Cairns with some big goals

Former Australian rowing superstar Ben Cureton has made the move to triathlon

We caught up with some of the triathlon crew from Western Australia who have made their way to the other side of the country with varying goals. Johan Borg is one of the youngest Ironman pros around. At 24 he has already done four Ironman races and is looking forward to once again testing himself against his idols.

Andrew (Andy) Tyack comes to Cairns after placing 2nd in his age group at Busselton 2011. He missed out on a Kona spot and after work got in the road of training this year he is here to enjoy himself and take what he can.

Ben Cureton is a name known to many after being at the top of his class in Australian Rowing for many years. With a silver medal in the lightweight men’s fours at the Athens Olympic Games and a gold at the 2011 World Championship Ben knows how to race perform at the top of a sport.

This is Andy Tyack’s second Ironman. As mentioned his first was in Busso 2011 where he came second in his age group and 28th overall. “I dreamed of going to Kona but there was only one spot and I was edged out by Nick Baldwin. I raced the Hawaii 70.3 in 2012, fell in love with Kona, saw Lance race and want to go back.”

Tyack’s goal was to get a spot this year at Cairns. “Work has taken a toll on my training so Cairns is going to be a bit tougher. I have no expectations.” Also a house purchase with girlfriend and fellow triathlete Lisa has added to the load.

Andy Tyack and Johan Borg at Cairns 2013

Andy Tyack and Johan Borg at Cairns 2013

Tyack played hockey until 2009. “I started triathlon in 2007. In 2009 I joined the Eclipse Fitness team. 2011 was a great year with lots of good results, 2012 I raced the Hawaii 70.3 and Las Vegas. I went through a mini triathlon ‘depression’ before Hawaii and Vegas last year but snapped out of it and had a great race for 4th in the Auckland 70.3 this year in the 18-24 age group.”

Andy is trained by the impressive Bill Scanlan. Since swimming in a wetsuit one size too small at the Super Sprint long course triathlon in Falls Creek last year Scanlan has never been the same since and has moved his main focus to training with some great results.

Kate Bevilaqua trains Lisa (Andy’s girlfriend) and with the Bevilaqua/Crawfords living around the corner they do a lot of training with Kate and Guy.

Andy is doing Mandurah 70.3 next and the Challenge Melbourne. After that it is a different challenge with the Great Wall of China Marathon.

At 24 Johan Borg is one of the youngest in the pro Ironman field. We interviewed Borg earlier this year on Trizone. “My aim for this Sunday is a top 10 finish but I am hungry for aa top 5. I would like to do a sub 8:40 and have been training for this. The course is slower at Cairns than Busselton so I am realistic.” Staying with main pack in the swim is the first challenge to overcome for Borg. “I have been working on swimming extensively and I am going well in the pool but it is not transferring to open water. There is a bit of a shark thing in WA open water swimming so we are all a bit nervous.”

Borg ran in a team three times at Ironman Western Aust doing it fully.

At Busselton last year Borg ran a 3:03. “I am aiming for sub 3:00 this weekend. I have been doing more fire trail runs in the hills around Perth. Also more longer runs up to 3 hours. I haven’t had niggles in the last year which has made the consistency in my running mush better.”

At Busselton Johan entered T2 with Jason Shortis but lost some ground in the run early on. “I would like to stay with Jason on the run in Cairns. He dropped me early in Cairns but I then hung on and the gap stayed more or less the same for the rest of the run.”

With University the amount of races that Borg can do at a high level means that Kona is not a focus at this stage. “I have plenty of time to do all of that. I am in no hurry.”

Johan swims with Eclipse and writes his own program’s with input from Stuart Durham of Eclipse Fitness.

Next up for Johan is the Sunshine Coast and Mandurah 70.3s. Maybe Ironman New Zealand in 2014.

The WA triathlon community has a great culture it seems. Everyone seems to know everyone. There are some great triathlon clubs and training groups. A great running culture seems to be centred around The Running Centre in Perth. We keep hearing about Raf Baugh and the team from the centre.

There is also a very successful Junior Tristar program which is expanding and is proving to be a great breeding ground for the young kids of the future. It offers a good pathway in to the sport.

The triathlon community in WA and the sport in general is something that is impressing former Australian rowing superstar Ben Cureton. With an Olympic silver medal and a world championship title the one thing that amazes Ben the most if how professional the age groupers are. He never saw this in the sport of rowing.

Former Australian rowing superstar Ben Cureton has made the move to triathlon

Former Australian rowing superstar Ben Cureton has made the move to triathlon

After Beijing Cureton did a couple of triathlons with rowing partner Todd Skipworth. He qualified for Kona in 2008 and raced in 2009.

There was surgery after the 2012 games to remove a piece of a disk out of his back. “I struggled to get through to the games in 2012 and at one stage was unsure about whether I would make it. I toughed it out and addressed the problem after.”

“I wanted to do a few triathlons after the games with Busselton 70.3 and a few Olympic Distance races around Perth in my sights. I will race this weekend and depending on how things go I may take out a pro license.”

Cureton works as a fireman and finds he can train for triathlon while doing this job. “Rowing was a full time commitment with backing from Rowing Australia. There was no option to work and perform as a professional.”

For Cureton the recent Busselton 70.3 was a target speed race. “My aim was to run under 1:20 and finish under 4hrs. I did this. My focus is now on Ironman. I am not a great swimmer (we’d like to be not a great 50-51min IM swimmer) and my bike is my strength.”

Rowing is an intense sport with a huge amount of strength and endurance. It is flat out for six minutes but the strength and endurance they build and generate translates over to cycling extremely well.

“I was a lightweight rower which means I had to be under 70kgs. We did a lot of running to condition and strip weight.”

Attitude developed through racing at the elite level in rowing has set up Ben for keeping relaxed at triathlon. “I find that with triathlon there is so much more time to think about what you are doing during a race. With rowing you have a short time to perform at your peak and not get anything wrong. I think this has given me a more relaxed approach.”

The Athens Olympics was a career highlight for Cureton. The Silver medal in the fours was something special. “It is hard to separate the world championship we won in 2011 from the silver medal at Athens. Winning a world championship was something special. Being a part of the Olympic team is a huge thing as well.”

Cureton trains a lot with Rachael Smith who we interviewed recently after her race at Busselton. “I love the great social aspect to triathlon. As an elite rower there was never an opportunity to row with other club members. With triathlon I can swim, ride and run with many different people of all levels.”

There are dreams of going to Europe to train and race. “My girlfriend Julie is from France. She is enjoying seeing Australia via my triathlons so is very supportive of what I am doing. We may move overseas at some stage to where Julie is from.”

Ben is also involved with Raf’s Baugh’s Free Racing Team. They put teams in to triathlons, adventure racing etc. “I may do some mountain bike racing in the future. I am looking forward to that!”

Ben’s goal on Sunday is to be the first age grouper and to finish top ten overall. A sub 8:40 is is also part of the plan.



Karl Hayes

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.