Mooloolaba has a long history of unveiling triathlon’s newest talent and this weekend’s Ironman 70.3 Sunshine Coast on Sunday 10 September is continuing that long standing tradition. Local athletes Annelise Jefferies, Katey Gibb and Brisbane’s Laura Dennis all count 70.3 Sunshine Coast as a “home race” and this weekend they will be putting their local knowledge to good use.
Annelise Jefferies had watched the previous two Ironman 70.3 Sunshine Coast races from the side lines but this year she is very keen to get among the action on her home turf.
“It is a real bonus for me having a home race because familiarity is the major advantage. I swim in the bay every week and have been riding much of the course and getting to know all the hills and running on the Esplanade. I know the course very well.”
“I am fairly new to 70.3, debuting at Ironman 70.3 Phuket in November last year, so this will only be my fourth 70.3 race. The last two years I have watched the 70.3 Sunshine Coast, so this is my first time competing over this distance in Mooloolaba. So far I have had two out of three shockers from rookie errors of nutrition and pacing, so hopefully I have ironed those out and it will go a bit smoother.”
“For me I think the key to this weekend’s race is to bring a similar attitude along that I had in March when I won the Mooloolaba Triathlon. I was well prepared, I felt confident and I just let it all unfold on the day, so that will be what I will be trying to do. It is all about not forcing it, letting it flow, having a relaxing few days in the lead up, getting the mental state right and not thinking about anyone else in the race. It is just a learning curve for me at the moment, so it is about putting my processes together and if that puts me in a podium position that is wonderful. If not I hope for a good solid performance,” she said.
Katey Gibb took up triathlon in 2008 to keep fit and meet new people, but she soon fell in love with it, representing Australia as an age grouper at the 2010 ITU World Championships. In 2011, she made her Ironman 70.3 debut in Busselton, before turning pro in 2014. The former Sandgroper now calls the Sunshine Coast home and she is looking forward to having another crack at the stunning World Championship course in Mooloolaba.
“I recently went back to full time work after having had the year off work to focus on training but leading in I have had a good block of consistent training. The last time I raced was in May at IRONMAN 70.3 Busselton, so I’m keen to get back on the start line. Doing Sunshine Coast 70.3 was an easy choice for me as it is a home race. I tend to do races that I think I’ll enjoy and are in nice locations. So Sunny Coast really fits this perfectly.”
“The last time I raced on the course was as part of the 2016 Ironman 70.3 World Championships. It was my first world champs of this distance and the first time I had raced against such a stacked field. I loved every minute of it. It is a great course, it is a nice mix of fast and flat on the bike, with some hills towards the end. The run is somewhat similar with the double run up Alexandra Headland, which can burn the legs a bit towards the end. But you also can’t beat the beautiful views on every bit of the course,” Katey said.
Laura Dennis was into surf-lifesaving as a nipper and heavily involved in school sport but it wasn’t until age 16 that she discovered triathlon after her physio suggested she take up bike riding to help in her recovery from an ITB injury. Originally a short course athlete, these days Laura is enjoying the combination of studying law and pursuing her long course dreams.
“I have previously raced on the Sunshine Coast in the Mooloolaba ITU Continental Cups and Oceania races. It’s always such a great atmosphere up the coast and I’m really looking forward to racing this event. I love the ocean and beach lifestyle, it will also be really nice to have some of my family and close friends supporting on the day, only a two hour drive from home.”
“Mid-year I had a stress fracture in my tibia which meant two weeks in a moon boot and no running for a month, so I raced Ironman 70.3 Bintan in August with no run training. The race went well, I led the swim for the first time which I was surprised with and happy to see some swim/bike improvements. Unfortunately the run form wasn’t so great, so I was happy to finish fourth.”
“This is only my third shot at long distance racing after my change from ITU Olympic distance. The next 12 months I am doing my long course apprenticeship and Sunshine Coast is a great opportunity to test a few things I’ve been working on in training. Everything has been coming together the last few weeks which feels great after a few months of injury and finally I am starting to find some run form again. It is a long race, and anything can happen, so it is all about nailing those small processes. If I can do that right, the result will be the best it can be,” Laura said.