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Spotlight on ICS02 Series MVPs

With the announcement of the end of the second annual Interclub Series (ICS02) last week, we thought it was the perfect time to catch up with nine regional MVPs from across the state. These awards recognise the members who earned the most Performance Points overall within their regional Interclub Series. 




Introduce yourself and your life outside triathlon – what is your ‘civilian’ alter ego?

I live at Freshwater on Sydney’s Northern Beaches. I am married to Paula and have three children in their 20’s Mitch, Lachie and Miki all still living at home with their partners so in these times you would call it a busy house. I  am the Community Services Director for Canterbury Bankstown Council having also worked for Manly and Warringah Councils in similar roles.

Why do you do triathlon and what got you involved in the sport?

I love all sports, having played rugby for the Manly Marlins and State 1 Squash for many years but these weren’t quite enough. I did my first major event in 1975 the City to Surf in 60 minutes flat - not bad for my first attempt and in a pair of state of the art Dunlop Volley OC’s. I believe they are now actually back on the market as dress shoes. Gosh hasn’t shoe technology come a long way since then! Sometimes I can’t believe I still have two good knees.

I saw my first triathlon on TV and thought, that looks interesting, I would like to try that. Later that year after pretty much learning how to ride a bike I did my first triathlon in the Royal National Park on a borrowed unisex bike and in those days you could have a second help you in transition which was pretty cool.  I was hooked - I really liked the variety and challenges each discipline brought but I knew I could do better than that and could go faster. So I purchased a new road bike and had it fitted by Manly Cycles with what I believe were the 3rd set of aero bars ever on the Northern Beaches which was in about 1985/86.

I raced heaps of races, many that aren’t staged anymore which is kind a sad, like the Sydney Triathlons at Narrabeen Lake, Multi-Sport Masochists World Cup Events at the Gold Coast, The Great Race, The Triple M Triathlon and so many more until I was hit while riding my bike by a drunken driver and nearly killed. I had been hit before, but those were only minor; this accident was very serious. So I promised my ‘Wife to be' Paula that I wouldn’t ride anymore - but I think she knew I didn’t mean never ever ride again, it was more not for a while.

So that leads me back to my kids and now that they are in their 20’s and I have done all the coaching of their teams, been a taxi driver, a Driving Instructor, a Life Coach and much more. I have renegotiated that deal with Paula and I have been back competing again. I started quite by chance when in 2015 we were in Noosa for a holiday for Paula’s Birthday and the Noosa Triathlon was being staged there the following weekend.  I said to Paula I would love to that again and she said you should have a go and so I trained for the Noosa Triathlon the following year did it and I have been back racing ever since.

What was your favourite race of ICS02?

The Berry Duathlon was great. I hadn’t done a Sprint Duathlon before. I have done a number of Triathlons that were changed to Duathlons for various reasons but they were generally Standard Distance. The scenery and location were great and I had some friends come to support me and we all went to great restaurant afterwards at Shoalhaven Heads. The food was just amazing the beer was great and gosh doing a race does make food and drink taste so much better.

Do you have a coach and if so, who? How have they helped you with your training & racing?

No I don’t have a coach but there are a number of quality athletes in the Warringah Triathlon Club that you can train with and talk to and I always listen and listen very intently. This is something that I wasn’t so good at in my younger days but have it down pat now. Athletes like Bec Hoschke, a former professional and winner of the Forster Ironman; Geoff Thorsen, who I think at last report had 25 consecutive Kona Ironman’s to his name which is bloody amazing he is a true legend; Graham Bruce former Surf Lifesaving Ironman, English Channel Swimmer and legendary triathlete. These are people that will always talk to you and share their experience with you, and to me this is gold. I know I have done these guys a bit of injustice because their CVs are so much greater than I have listed but I just wanted to give you the feeling that these guys are SERIOUSLY good athletes and really know what they are doing.

I am also supported with advice from my expert Bike Mechanic, Sean Vale from Bike Addiction at Manly, who just happens to a former elite triathlete from a while back. So safe to say while I don’t have a coach, I am surrounded by and have access to some very experienced athletes. Finally there is Jo at Turbo Studio for all those indoor bike sessions. She said to once after a particularly challenging session ‘You know I am on your side’ - I knew that of course, unfortunately my body wasn’t quite on the same page!

How has your club helped you achieve success this season?

My Club is the Warringah Triathlon Club. We are a big Club and have won the NSW Club Championships on multiple occasions. My Club is very organised with regular running, riding and swimming groups. We also conduct our Club Races at North Head which are fantastic to keep your racing sharp. We can proudly boast we have the longest and steepest T1 probably in the world as it goes for 3 kilometres and I kilometre is pretty much straight up a steep hill windy hill we call ‘The Black Snake’.

Personal motto? ‘Pain is only a loss of concentration’.

What club do you have a secret crush on?

The Hat Head Hammerheads, they are my second club. My family has been going to Hat Head for holidays for 17 years and when I heard they had a Triathlon Club I approached them and they really made me and my family feel welcome. They are a great bunch of people, we swim with them and I train and do their local triathlon. I have yet to race for them but I tried this year I drove up there on that absolutely torrentially wet weekend only to have it cancelled on race day morning for the first time in 31 years. Gosh that was disappointing but I totally understood the reasons.

What are some of the more unique events you have competed in?

 The one at the top of the list would have to be ‘The Manly Soft Sand Classic’, a race that could only be designed by a Triathlete and his name was Scott Wood. Scott is another legend of the Northern Beaches and Warringah Triathlon Club Member but his is a whole other story. The Manly Soft Sand Classic is generally your choice of either 1.5km, 9km or 21km of soft sand running along Manly to Queenscliff Beach and back as many times as needed for your nominated distance right up close to the promenade wall where the sand is softest. Safe to say the event is a real ‘calf burner’. I actually hold the record for the person who has competed in it the most times unfortunately or fortunately depending on how you look at it the race has not been held for past few years but I am hopeful that it will return one day as it is so unique.

Another event I did with Scott was the 3 Ports Challenge in Sydney which involved 3 sailing legs with 3 running legs involving two runners and their combined time for 10km at Manly, 15km at Bundeena and 21km the next day at Patonga. It was an experience and gave us an insight into some of the feelings you might experience in the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race. Plus if you thought a bike was the most expensive piece of equipment in our sport you needed a yacht for this one.
Stay safe and happy racing.

Thank you for sharing your incredible journey through triathlon, Graeme! For more info on the Warringah Waves, click here.

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Hi, my life outside of triathlon consists of a bit of uni, a bit of riding fixies, and a bit of training for the next triathlon.

I do triathlon for the love of sport and the complexities involved. If you can only be good at one sport, why not pick one that involves 3! The Weetbix triathlon was what got me into my first tri.

In ICS02, the 2nd Kurnell Tri Series race was intense, having to chase down Sam Douglas and an awesome atmosphere as always.

Dani Andres is my coach and has been for 10 years now, based locally in Rozelle.

Thanks Jayden! For more info on Rozelle Pulse, click here.

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My name is Ronda Gainsford, and I am the series joint MVP winner for Central West. 

I’m 61 yrs old, and have been competing in triathlons for over 22 yrs. I’ve competed in every distance from enticer to Ironman, and four world championships, the last being the Standard triathlon at the Gold Coast in 2018. I initially got involved as it was something different from all the team sports I played, and I had been involved in running ever since school cross country. It was also something that very quickly my whole family got involved in and have lots of great memories of races and the BBQ after our monthly Sunday races.  I’ve never had a coach, only a swimming one when I competed in Australian Ironman. 

I’m a physiotherapist , a Pilates instructor and also a triathlon coach. I became a coach mainly to help my kids. They all competed in All Schools, and one year I had the three of them all competing. From a triathlon perspective I’m mainly interested in all things running; technique, performance and injury prevention.  I perform running assessments and help with a weekly running group the Mudgee triathlon has organised for about 7 years. 

All the Interclub races this year were a struggle. Smoke in Mudgee, very hot in Bathurst, torrential rain in Dubbo and no swim in Orange, so was looking forward to Cowra, but was not meant to be! Maybe next year. 

I’m honoured to be part of a great club like Mudgee where everyone is very supportive of each other. I’ve seen a lot of changes over the years, including our member base fluctuating. The committee -of which I’ve been a member for 20 yrs - at present is small and very hard working, but we also have some great helpers. 

The current system with TriNSW was quite good, but no one was going to be able to beat a big, strong club like Orange, so we’re very proud of how Mudgee performed and competed this year. I’ve really enjoyed the season, just disappointed it was cut short. 

Thanks for sharing Ronda, and congratulations on your achievements. For more info on the Mudgee Red Devils, click here.

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North Coast MVP

NORTH COAST (JOINT) MVP - Nerida Clarke 


Introduce yourself and your life outside triathlon – what is your ‘civilian’ alter ego?

Well my life is a little complicated - as a recent retiree from the world of Information Technology I have the luxury of pursuing triathlon in 2 of the most beautiful locations in Australia – in my home city of Canberra, and in Byron Bay the place I have called home over the summer for the past 2 tri seasons. I am in the older female demographic of triathlon and have come to the sport in later life.

Why do you do triathlon and what got you involved in the sport?

I became involved in triathlon initially as a volunteer a number of years ago when my son and husband raced and I observed it to be so inclusive of all ages and abilities and so social that I decided at the age of 55 that I would give it a go. I had a base level of swimming and running fitness but had never ridden a road bike. With the help of my initial Canberra Club, Females in Training, and their fantastic skills programs I gained the confidence to ride and raced to qualify for World Age Group Triathlon Championships in London in 2013. I was bitten! And have now competed in numerous local and interstate races and 3 World Championships.

I do triathlon because it enables me to maintain a level of fitness (across 3 disciplines), to test my mental strength, to compete for self achievement and to have social interaction with fellow club members of all ages and backgrounds.

What was your favourite race of ICS02?

Yamba was my favourite race, it enabled us to support a community recovering from serious bushfires and to compete in a beautiful environment I had never previously visited.

Do you have a coach and if so, who? How have they helped you with your training & racing?

In Byron Ba,y our club is small with approximately 30 members, so we utilise the skills and experience of several of our members to provide coaching. Our President Deborah Fuller is an absolute star keeping all of us on track with programs and constantly communicating through our WhatsApp group. By travelling to races together we operate with a team mentality encouraging each other and celebrating everyone’s personal achievements.

How has your club helped you achieve success this season?

The Byron Bay Breakers Club is totally supportive of all members and as the oldest female member of the club I have been encouraged in every aspect of training and competition. Our team approach to trying to achieve championship status was incredibly motivating for me to achieve success.  

Personal motto?

Just do it! There are a lot of women my age sitting on the couch!

What club do you have a secret crush on?

I love both of my clubs Females in Training in Canberra encouraging and supporting women of all ages to do triathlon and Byron Bay Breakers one of the smallest clubs in the country which through incredible team ethos has achieved amazing things.

Thanks for sharing Nerida! For more info on the Byron Breakers, click here.

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Cheryl Freeman



Outside of training and racing I enjoy a wide range of other interests including casual teaching, face painting, hot yoga, trail running and being a devoted nan (known as nan with the short hair).

Since I was a teenager, competing in a number of sports has kept me out of mischief. These include speedskating, cycling, cross country running, soccer and taekwondo. I also enjoyed competing in sailing  on catamarans for a few years (though had no idea what I was doing so just did as I was told). As with many beginning triathletes I'd done minimal swimming, never competitive swimming. Swimming in open water was never on my 'to do' list. Despite this, triathlon always interested me and I would be glued to the TV when a major event was televised. When the time was right I bought a bike, started swimming more seriously at the pool, hoping that would be enough to get me through. What a learning curve the last 5 years has been! 

It is difficult to choose a favourite race because I really enjoy the whole race day experience but for ICS02 season it would have to be Big Husky I guess. It was the first time of racing this distance. The long course was such a blast that I did not expect. 

Coaching is via Col Stewart's online programmes. Closer to home I train as part of Jodie Linsley's training group. I am fortunate to have reliable training partners who encourage and push each other to work harder (before we go for coffee). Life doesn't sit neatly for me to stick to a specific programme set by a coach, however these two coaches have been invaluable to me in this sport. 

Kiama Triathlon Club is a very cohesive and supportive club that values family, who respects and encourages every individual with all endeavours and new adventures. We have many established endurance athletes who were more than happy to offer advice when I had any question leading up to Big Husky, however silly it might have seemed. 

A personal motto? Just have a positive half glass full attitude to life ... always. Sometimes I joke my motto could be 'Born to Try'. By doing your own personal best at anything in life you are a winner. 

It is not unusual for me to share with people outside of our sport what an amazing, friendly and supportive sport we have. All those 'happy hormones' flying around - how could it be any different. When asked which club I have a secret crush on nothing came to mind immediately. However, if this triathlete was still living in Sydney I would be involved in the Warringah Triathlon Club, reason being the friendships I have made while at training camps at Jindabyne and other competitors that I've chatted to on race days over the past few years. 

Looking forward to getting back to the whole race day experience. Meanwhile stay healthy, be safe and see you at the next race.

Thanks for sharing Cheryl, and we look forward to the next race day too! For more info on the Kiama Coasters, click here.

 Reflections Billigence


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