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Join the Tribe and give it a Tri

Have you been toying with the idea of doing a triathlon, but you keep putting it off till ‘next year’? Or maybe you’re comfortable with the bike and run legs, but struggle in the pool? Well, you’ve come to the right place — whether you’re five or 55, the Tri-Be Free Radicals Family Triathlon Club is making the sport accessible, and fun, for all.


It’s 6.15am on Sunday morning and the bike-clad SUVs are starting to march into the car park at Northern Beaches Leisure Centre. The numbers are somewhat down due to the Coral Coast Triathlon in Port Douglas, but the enthusiasm is charging as families pile out with their gear, grab a coffee and chat about the week that’s been.


“Being able to train in a social environment that’s fun where the whole family can get involved is proving really popular” – Graham Pemberton

Started by Ironman triathletes Brendan Cochrane and Graham and Pam Pemberton five months ago as a way for families to keep fit and train together, membership at the Tri-Be Free Radicals Club is growing exponentially.


“Our youngest member is about five, and they go all the way up to 55 years, so we have a massive spectrum of people wanting to keep fit, from beginners who can barely swim to the ultra athletes,” Graham says of the nearly 100 members. “One of the beauties of triathlons is that you are competing against people in your own age group, so it’s a good leveller. It can also be a lonely sport in the sense that it’s all about you against yourself and the clock, so being able to train in a social environment that’s fun where the whole family can get involved is proving really popular.”


The club structures the weekly free training sessions so parents and kids train separately, with three dedicated coaches offering their unique expertise. There are also regular competitive events where everyone is encouraged to get out there and give it a go. “It’s a great atmosphere where, if the adults are out training and they go past the kids, there is a lot of encouragement. It’s a great way for families to spend time together and get active,” says Graham. “We find people tend to fear triathlons or see them as elitist, but with our club, anything goes — if you need a snorkel, wetsuit and fins to race, go for it (laughs).”

Parents Chodagh and Dennis Marchioni take their two boys Ronan, 13, and Declan, 11 along to the training sessions every Sunday morning. They live in the Burdekin and used to come to Townsville Fridays for the boys’ sport and leave Saturday afternoons until they discovered the Tribe. “We now stay that extra night so the children can train,” says Chodagh. “We started coming when Declan was training for the school state championships earlier in the year, and that inspired our oldest to get involved. It’s a great group of people — the kids love it, the adults love it and it’s the ideal sport for families.”

Find out more about the Free Radicals Tri-Be Family Triathlon Club, their free training sessions and their competitive events here

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Carly Lubicz

Carly Lubicz

Carly Lubicz is combining two of her great loves — writing and getting active. Previously working as a journalist, sub-editor, and editor in newspapers and magazines; she is editor and co-founder of TheGo Townsville. She stays active with the staples of road cycling and yoga, but has recently discovered triathlon. And become addicted (apart from the swimming part). She also has a Cert III in Fitness and is passionate about improving mental health through physical activity.

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