Former Newcastle Jets defender, Jarrad Ross has recently joined the rapidly growing number of retired professional sports people to make the switch to the world of swim/ride/run and this Sunday (25 November) he is heading to the Sydney International Regatta Centre in Penrith to make his IRONMAN 70.3 debut.
Having grown up in Newcastle running and swimming at school with Olympic triathlete Aaron Royle, Ross is not a total stranger to triathlon but as a youngster soccer was his real passion.
“Aaron and I went to Callaghan College in Wallsend and Jesmond and sport was a priority. I used to swim as a kid and we grew up racing against each other with swimming and running but Aaron was obviously a little better than me. As with most kids it comes to a point where you have to choose what sport you are going to do. So as teenager I chose soccer and managed to do okay, better than most, and I really enjoyed it.”
“I was at the NSW Institute of Sport and part of the Newcastle Jets youth system. I was 18 when I made my debut and I was in the system there until I was 20, eventually playing a few first grade games and part of the Asian Champions League squad.”
“Then things changed, new coaches came in and that was it for me and I ended up going to university instead, doing teaching. But I got to play A-League games and some people aren’t that lucky. For me it was a great experience and I was fortunate to be in my hometown and to be able to play for my home team. So, it was good,” he said.
Jarrad had a stint with the Charlestown City Blues FC and later Marconi in the NPL but his life changed with rehab for a knee injury got him on a bike and with the missing piece in place, he became a triathlete.
Getting involved with few friends that he had previously played soccer with who had done triathlon and finding a training group in Newcastle called Black Lungs Triathlon Club, Jarrad was off and running.
“I did the Sparke Helmore sprint triathlon in Newcastle earlier this year and then did two club races in Newcastle and then one at Tomaree. The other weekend I did a middle distance race of 2km swim/ 60km ride and a 15km run. Once I crossed the finish line the first time I knew triathlon was for me, you are definitely left wanting more.”
“They are the only races I have done prior to signing up for IRONMAN 70.3 Western Sydney, so it is not a lot of triathlon experience. I have been training with Chris Hanrahan from Performance by 3 for the past two months which has helped me out a lot and I have been training with good bunch of boys, the Black Lungs group in Newcastle as well. They are carefree blokes who like to have a laugh, train hard and are very encouraging, so it has been good. Going from a sprint to now signing up for Western Sydney, tells the story of how much I am enjoying it.”
Jarrad isn’t a total stranger to the International Regatta Centre in Penrith having competed there at high school.
“I actually raced at the Regatta Centre in high school with Aaron. We did teams around there, so I have been there before. I was also out there recently and went for a ride because I live in Western Sydney now. But I haven’t been there in the middle of the heat so it will be interesting to see how it goes if it is warm.”
“I am pretty much training every day and Saturday and Sunday are quite heavy, long ride and a run or short ride and a run off the bike. I have set myself a goal of 5:30 but ideally, I would like to go under five if I can. If I do everything how I would like to and pace myself well, I think it is achievable. But you never know with the heat or how you feel on the day.”
“I am not nervous, it is more exciting than anything. I feel as though the work is done. I can’t really change how much I have trained or anything like that. Ideally, I would like to race it but my first priority is to finish. After tearing my knee last year getting to the start line is an achievement in itself,” he said.
Having come from a team environment Jarrad is enjoying the freedom that doing an individual sport brings.
“The best way I can describe it is that you have a competitive edge, once you retire you don’t really want to just lay down and stop. In triathlon, you are the only person who is accountable and if you haven’t done the work it is on you. I really enjoy that aspect of the sport that if I fail it is my fault and no-one else has made the mistake,” he said.