Laura Siddall is triathlon’s most nomadic pro, but her mobile lifestyle might just be the key to her recent success including her second place finish at Challenge Roth. Trizone caught up with Siddall to chat San Francisco, risk aversion and the qualification for Kona she’s already locked in.
“I’d always done athletics and played netball at a junior level, but the emphasis was always on corporate life and education,” said Siddall. “When I started triathlon, I found I was naturally quite strong on the bike for whatever reason. I just loved it,” Siddall chatted happily, her genuine passion emanating from her words. “It all developed from there. We just found a good formula and built that strength on the bike, then played to my strength when racing,” said Siddall.
Laura Siddall entered triathlon slightly later in life than some other athletes, but her passion for the sport has overcome any deficit this may have created. “I was training at Bondi Fit with Spot Anderson, and it was my social circle and just a great environment. Every session was fun, and I just loved it.” remembers Siddall.
Corporate life vs. triathlon
Working hard at both her day job, and her new found sport of triathlon in Sydney, Siddall was spreading her energy thin. “I wasn’t enjoying my corporate job,” Siddall told Trizone, “there’s only so far you can succeed in the corporate world, or the sporting world, while you’re trying to do both. When I was sitting at my desk everyday, more and more of my thoughts were about my next training session or my next race,” said Siddall.
To choose work or sport?
Like every triathlete, Siddall had reached the turning point where she had to decide to pursue her sporting career, or let it fall by the wayside. “It was a now or never decision,” remember Siddall, “I wasn’t getting any younger since I had started triathlon at a slightly older age. I didn’t want to look back in ten or twenty years and think ‘what if?’” Siddall told Trizone.
Siddall’s tone turned strong and defiant at this point, and the power of the decision she’d faced all those years ago had bubbled back to the surface. Enviably logical and self reflective, Siddall is clear about the key elements of the huge decision she faced. “There were a few things holding me back,” Siddall told Trizone. “I’m sometimes a bit risk averse and I didn’t feel like I knew enough to be a pro.” Racing at Olympic distance wasn’t for her, and she knew it. “It wasn’t the right distance for me, but I knew there were other options out there.”
Starting the sport slightly later than some other athletes, plus having a slower swim, Siddall was hesitant to commit to the sport full time. “All these things in my mind delayed my progress a bit until I moved up to 70.3. Then I won the age group race that qualified me for worlds in Las Vegas. I was the fastest female amateur,” Siddall said casually, “then I made that step up to half distance racing,” said Siddall, “and started to think that perhaps things were possible!”
While Spot had helped Siddall become one of the top age groupers, she knew she wanted more. “I looked into Matt Dixon’s and his approach and style appealed to me. I also knew that if I was going to go Pro, I needed to commit full time. The Sydney environment wasn’t going to be right for that, I knew I needed to train with other better pros, and under Matt, who had so much experience at that next level.”
First pro race at Noosa cements Siddall’s love of the sport
Laura Siddall secured her pro tickets after becoming the world’s fastest amateur female. Of all the places to start a pro career, Noosa has to be the most motivational, buzzing and fun races around. “It was my first pro race, and Kim Coogan’s (nee Jaenke) too. We’d both been age groupers and won our age group in 70.3 World Champs that year,” said Siddall.
“It was so daunting, we were racing against the speedy short distance athletes. I knew my swim was never going to cut it, but since it was non drafting it evened things out on the bike a bit,” remembered Siddall.
While plenty of athletes would choke under the pressure, Siddall kept her cool by diffusing her own expectations and just enjoying Noosa’s infamous fun vibe. “It’s a great race, and a fantastic atmosphere. Going in with no pressure on the back of the 70.3 world championships in Vegas was perfect. I knew it was an amazing opportunity for me to go in and stand on the start line with some incredible women and race against them. It was so great,” remembered Siddall.
Siddall is happy without a home base
While most people on her old corporate career path are constantly worrying about setting up a home at her age, Siddall couldn’t be more different, and her racing is benefitting from it. “I don’t have a home base anymore as such,” Siddall told Trizone. “I first started with Matt Dixon in San Francisco as I needed to be training in front of him, but in the two years I was in the USA, something wasn’t quite right,” remembered Siddall.
After spending seven years in Sydney, Siddall missed the pace and weather of the southern hemisphere, so she headed back down, this time to New Zealand. “I spent time in Christchurch in New Zealand where Paul Buick works. He’s works closely with Matt, particularly around our cycling” said Siddall. In summer, Laura Siddall worked hard on her cycling fitness in Christchurch’s monstrous hills, but in winter the city was too far from the action. “I didn’t want to be in NZ during winter as it’s too cold, and races are all going on in the USA and Europe.”
Girona hooks another pro
After racing in Europe, Siddall looked for a somewhere to train in the Northern Hemisphere, searching from Morzine to Vittoria, and she found Girona. “Jan Frodeno thinks it’s alright, and I had the idea of training there from a friend in NZ. I just made the decision and booked it, and I’m so glad. There are tons of triathletes and cyclists, and it’s so easy to get around,” Siddall said eagerly.
After finishing in second place in 09:21:53 at Ironman New Zealand earlier this year, then with winning Ironman Australia, Siddall already has a Kona ticket locked in, giving her the chance to focus on the European Challenge series. “Fortunately it worked out, and my main goal for this year is just having lots of fun doing the races I want to do. And a second goal to go to Kona, which I’ve now got the points for!”
Chatting to Siddall, you can’t help but think she’s got it all figured out. With her measured tone and enthusiastic yet thoughtful comments, it’s no wonder she’s been able to keep her cool and get the results she’s aimed for. We’re betting she gets the results she wants in Kona too, but we’ll have to wait and see.