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Workmates to teammates: United by triathlon

Coming together for the first time last year to tackle the Cairns Ironman 70.3 as a team, followed by the Townsville Triathlon Festival; workmates Sarah Orth, Jackie Stewart and Vanessa Voss are firing up again to better their results and there are plenty of laughs and words of encouragement being shared, plus a healthy dose of friendly competition.

“It’s good because you know someone else is swimming, and someone else is having to get up as early as you, so you want to make sure you’re also pulling your weight” – Sarah Orth

Arriving at work – NAB’s Aitkenvale branch – on a Monday morning has never been so filled with anticipation – who would have done the most kilometres at the weekend? Who has smashed their previous time on the pavement, in the pool or on wheels?

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Vanessa, Jackie and Sarah

The three ladies – in their 20s, 30s and 40s – have certainly become closer at work since becoming teammates last year and it was signing up for the Townsville Triathlon Festival that got store manger Jackie Stewart back into the pool after a six-year hiatus.

“I started swimming at nine years of age and won my first state medals at 10 and first national medals at 11,” Jackie tells, her wetsuit draped over her arm. “I stopped swimming competitively at 19, and then had a lot of fun (laughs)! I stopped it entirely when I joined the bank, so had six years out of the water; until the girls got me back into it last year for the triathlons.”

Now hitting the pool early mornings three times a week in preparation for this year’s Ironman 70.3 team event and the Townsville Triathlon Festival a fortnight later on June 27-28; Jackie is getting faster and Vanessa and Sarah are also helping her to stay on the healthy-eating track. After having a knee operation six months ago, Vanessa has swapped her runners for a road bike and completed the Banish the Black Dog Charity Ride (260km return) last weekend, while Sarah is clocking up the kilometres at parkrun every fortnight and at 4.30am most days before her three kids (9, 6, and 4) wake up.

“You want to get fitter and fitter because you’ve got a goal that’s going to help everyone else and they understand what you’re doing” – Vanessa Voss

“It’s fun and gives you a good sense of personal achievement when you can test yourself and do a bit more,” Sarah says. “Then when you come into work after the weekend and talk about how many kilometres you did, you don’t want to say you haven’t done anything, so you go, ‘It’s Sunday afternoon – I need to go for a run!’… it’s good because you know someone else is swimming, and someone else is having to get up as early as you, so you want to make sure you’re also pulling your weight.”

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Jackie at the swim start of the Townsville Tri Fest last year.

As winners of the Townsville Triathlon Festival TP Human Capital Corporate Teams pass in a competition recently run by TheGo Townsville, all ladies would encourage other workplaces to get involved. “It makes you more focused at work having those goals – we are all competitive in our jobs to hit targets, so it’s an extension of that and the motivation and sense if achievement crosses over into both,” Vanessa says, with the trio agreeing that they are fortunate to receive the support of their area manager who’s always checking in to see how they are going.

“Plus it’s been good encouraging each other – it’s supportive and we’re challenging each other. You want to get fitter and fitter because you’ve got a goal that’s going to help everyone else and they understand what you’re doing.”

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Sarah smashing the run leg.

In terms of advice, the ladies say preparation is key. But also celebrating the small milestones: “It’s like when Vanessa finished her first 100km ride and she texted me and said, ‘I did it!’” Sarah says.

Jackie adds: “It’s nice to share that achievement because you can’t come into work and tell anyone else, ‘Oh my God – I just beat my time’ – they don’t get as excited for you, so it’s nice to have teammates who get as pumped as you do.”


Get involved

The TP Human Capital Corporate Teams event at the Townsville Triathlon Festival is designed to suit all levels. Choose from a 400m Swim / 16km Bike / 4km Run OR 1500m Swim / 40km Bike / 10km Run. The Townsville Tri Fest is from June 27-28, 2015 and you can register here.


Competition – Until June 10

Key Motors is offering to sponsor teams and fund their nomination. The opportunity is available to 10 teams and applications need to be in by Wednesday, June 10. All winners will also get an exclusive one-on-one session with Champion Australian Triathlete Courtney Atkinson before the event. See here for more details.

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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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