In its 13th year and expected to attract more than 5000 athletes and spectators while drawing the likes of Ironwoman Courtney Hancock, pro Australian triathlete and two-time Olympian Courtney Atkinson, and former Paralympian John Maclean who has harnessed adversity to swim, ride and run again; the Sportscene Superwarehouse Townsville Triathlon Festival has progressed a long way since about 20 corporate teams gathered at Riverway in 2002.
“Triathlon is the world’s fastest growing sport and few do it to win – most people get involved for the excitement of racing and that thrill of being part of it, regardless of the distance or ability” – Jamie Fitzpatrick
“The festival was created by Jaret Grant and Clayton Cook at TP Human Capital initially as a form of corporate networking and a way to have fun with workmates,” festival president Jamie Fitzpatrick explains, who used to compete before joining the committee and now taking the reins. “Although it’s grown into an event that is now attracting the attention of Triathlon Australia for consideration as a future national championships race; the core focus of being somewhere for families, friends and work colleagues to just ‘have a go’ hasn’t changed.”
Jamie says he’s really excited about this year’s Tri Fest, which is as much about the supporting events as the racing. On the Friday night there’s a public ‘Carbs with the Stars’ dinner where the remarkable former wheelchair athlete John Maclean will address the crowd. After John was struck by an eight-tonne truck while training in 1988 and rendered an ‘incomplete paraplegic’, his determination to be stronger than ever saw the history books recognise him as the first wheelchair athlete to compete in the Hawaiian Ironman in 1995, swim the English Channel in 1998, and complete the gruelling Molokai Ocean challenge in 2005. Extraordinarily, he went on to conquer a triathlon last year as an able-bodied athlete.
Plus multiple Australian Ironwoman series winner Courtney Hancock, Olympic triathlete Courtney Atkinson and V8 driver and keen triathlete Will Davison will be at the Friday night dinner with attendees having the unique opportunity to bid for them to be in their team at the weekend – a slight advantage!
Saturday, June 27 is the extremely popular 1300SMILES Kids TRY which has three age categories, plus there will be separate coaching clinics with ‘the Courtneys’, the Live2Play Sports, Fitness and Health Expo (which starts Friday afternoon and ends Sunday), an early-evening Cowboys game, and Sunday is the main racing day for individuals and teams.
“If you can make it up the hill of an afternoon or ride the length of Rowes Bay to Pallarenda and back on your pushy, you’re there already” – Jamie Fitzpatrick
“It’s all about the atmosphere,” Jamie says. “It will be like a ‘mini Olympics’ on The Strand where they’ll be thousands of spectators and the atmosphere will be electric. That’s the feedback that we get from competitors of every level – that sense of achievement when you have crossed the line and having everyone cheering for you. Triathlon is the world’s fastest growing sport and few do it to win – most people get involved for the excitement of racing and that thrill of being part of it, regardless of the distance or ability.”
And that’s a misconception that the festival is keen to bust – you do not by any means need to be an elite athlete to do this event. In the case of teams, contenders can split the race up so that the 400m swim, 16km bike ride and 4km run are shared between three (or two if you like). Jamie says this is achievable for anyone fit enough to walk Castle Hill.
“Triathlon doesn’t need to be an intimating experience,” Jamie says. “If you can make it up the hill of an afternoon or ride the length of Rowes Bay to Pallarenda and back on your pushy, you’re there already. There are people who walk the run leg or ride their bikes with bells and baskets, but it’s just about giving it a go.”
Teams can be friends, family or people you work with. The TP Human Capital Teams event has always been popular as the original event 13 years ago, with about 1000 participants expected to sign-up for this race alone. Jamie says this has obvious team-building benefits in training and promoting a healthy workforce, but also offers the chance to put an active slant on business. “We often take business contacts and colleagues to watch the Cowboys, V8s, The Crocs and all these great activities, but actually doing a sporting event is something different that your organisation can do – it’s really uplifting and that energy that comes with the sense of achievement is contagious.”
Here are the Townsville Triathlon Festival events for 2015. They have been designed so that there’s something for every fitness level. Really…
There are three age categories: From seven to eight years: 50m swim/1km bike/500m run; from nine to 10 years: 50m swim/1km bike/500m run; from 10-13 years: 100m swim/2km bike/1km run.
This event is Race 1 of the Triathlon Australia Age Group Olympic Distance National Series 2015/2016. It’s a 1500m swim/40km bike/10km run and the fastest Olympic Distance course in Australia.
The Enticer Triathlon is a 400m swim, 15km ride and a 2.5km run.
The Performance Physio Sprint Distance Triathlon is 750m swim/20km ride/5km run. The minimum age for the Sprint Distance Triathlon is 14 years.
The team triathlon is an event promoting teamwork, a healthy workforce, corporate health and maintaining a work/life balance. The distances are EITHER: 400m swim/16km bike/4km run OR 1500m swim/40km bike/10km run. There are heaps of prizes to win!
The Colliers Elite Mile is all about speed: More than 40 of the fastest 1,600 metre runners race for about $2,000 cash. These elite runners will challenge the 4:30 minute race record to join the Wall of Fame.
Get more information and register here: townsvilletrifestival.org.au
Townsville Triathlon Festival timeline
2002 – Started at Riverway with 20 corporate teams and 100 participants
2009 – Became incorporated and introduced additional events to become a weekend long affair
2010 – Moved to the current location of The Strand and introduced a Sprint Distance event for a greater challenge
2014 – The creation of the Classic (Olympic) Distance event and the inclusion of the festival as a World Age Group qualifying race.
WIN A TEAM PASS TO THE TRI FEST
Tell us why you want to get involved in the Townsville Triathlon Festival and tag the two or three people you want to do it with – they can be friends, family or work colleagues. The winners will score a team pass to the TP Human Capital Teams Triathlon (valued at $245). All team members must be over 14 years.
Competition closes Thursday, April 30 at 11.59pm. For all other general T&Cs see here.