Meet five Fraser Coast athletes about to represent Australia
TRIATHLON: Friendly competition, a life-long love for the sport and a desire to wear the green and gold are behind five of the Fraser Coast's Australian triathlon representatives.
The quintet will be among those set to compete at the ITU Gold Coast Grand Final in September.
Keep an eye on future editions of the Fraser Coast Chronicle to meet more local representatives.
Friendly competition and banter between three B Mee Multisports athletes has helped spur them to debut world championship appearances at the Gold Coast.
"Full credit to Lars (Olsen), Dawesy (Nick Dawes) and I have only been doing triathlon for two years and Pickles (Tom Ralston) even less, and we've all sort of gelled together,” Geltch said.
"We've trained together for 12 months and our goal for this year was to try to qualify. It's our first chance to qualify so we thought we'd jump in head first and give it a solid crack. We have just been bouncing off each other for the past six to nine months and that's turned into a bit of competition.”
Geltch is perhaps best known for his ultra long distance efforts - he completed in Ultraman Australia's 10km swim, 421.1km bike ride and 84.3km run in May - and is regularly running, riding or swimming somewhere on the Fraser Coast just about every day.
His preparation for the world championships may not be what you expect. On Sunday he completed the Sunshine Coast half-ironman, and now has two weeks to "learn how to run fast” for his Olympic distance triathlon.
"I definitely wouldn't recommend my training program to anyone,” he said with a laugh. "I'm trying to race a short course world champs under long course training at no fault to anyone but myself. It'd be nice to beat Tom but the way he's training he's probably fitter than I am. I'm just happy to get out there on race day and wear the green and gold.
"Who would've thought I'd be representing Australia at anything other than an eating contest about four years ago.
"To get into triathlon so recently and fall in love with the sport and represent Australia hasn't sunk in yet.”
A three-decade love for triathlon allowed Ron Acutt to be highlighted by Triathlon Queensland for a rather obscure fact last week.
The Hervey Bay triathlon icon will be one of a select group to compete at his third world championship at the Gold Coast next month.
"I go every 10 years,” he said.
Acutt previously competed at Gold Coast-hosted world titles in 1991 and 2009, but his long-term love for the sport has him on target for Noosa Triathlon No. 34 this summer, along with a number of other select events.
"It was a much tighter race as each country only got three per age group back then,” Acutt said of 1991. "I was doing about two hour times.
"I only went about 10 seconds slower 10 years later.
"The idea of sport being a young person's thing is a myth, we just get lazy. I go in cycles.
"I set a really ambitious goal, train my butt off to qualify and hold that pace for the event, then there is the payback of getting into all of those other things you've skipped.”
Acutt started triathlon about 1984. He raced an aquathlon in Maryborough, and the man who beat him that day suggested he try a triathlon.
A trip to Bargara for the novelty ("nobody knew what a triathlon was”) and beating Hayden Kenny sealed the deal.
"I was never any good at sport at school, well none of the sports that mattered,” he said. "I discovered that if I trained, I could do all right at swimming. I worked out it was the same with cross country.
"Track, I couldn't sprint. I couldn't jump, I couldn't hurdle, but 5000m or 10000m I could do. When we discovered the triathlon we went for it.”
Acutt will compete in the men's 50-54 standard distance event.
The Maryborough-based athlete has covered thousands of kilometres to earn a place at the ITU World Triathlon Grand Final at the Gold Coast.
"I did two races at Canberra, Townsville, the Gold and Sunshine Coasts,” Young said. "I'm doing the Olympic and spring distances. Most mornings we're up between 4am and 4.30am, I drag my husband along so I'm training with him.
"It was 1.4 degrees in Maryborough but we rugged up. I rug up so it's fine (on the coldest mornings).”
This will be Young's fifth world championship appearance. She competed at the Gold Coast in 2009, Budapest in 2010, Auckland in 2010 and completed a long course in China in 2014.
"I just love the experience of racing. You meet different people from different cultures, and triathlon takes you to places you wouldn't normally go,” Young said. "You meet like-minded people and talk to people with similar interests.”
Young has participated in triathlon for 10 years.
It started with a work bonus, led to a new bike and a coach - who just happened to specialise in triathlons - and it cascaded from there.
"I hate swimming, I'm actually pretty scared of the ocean so the swim was last - and if I can avoid it, I do,” she said. "It's like facing you fear, I've always been a bit scared of the water but triathlon makes you face those fears.
"When you're in a race, you just have to focus. You count your strokes, you look for the next buoy, you try not to think about it too much. In a race you have to do it.”
Young will compete in the 50-54yrs women's age group.
The youngest member of this five-strong is eyeing a top 10 finish
"A very hard race, and hopefully a very fast race, and I'm not sure what else,” he said.
"I'd be stoked to be in that top five to 10 position or two hour five minute time, but there's no way of knowing what I'll do on race day.
"I have seen the start list, I stalked a few of the people online. Some of them look very intimidating but some of them I know I can beat so I think I'll be in a reasonable position.”
Ralston expects a strong performance come race day, but don't expect any open water swim records.
"It depends on the day, it comes and goes. Some days my bike is the strongest, sometimes it's the run,” Ralston said.
"It's never the swim.
"I'm confident in the open water so if there's some surf it will play to my advantage.”
Ralston was yet to check the course despite being in the first wave on the first day, but you can guarantee he'll have it scouted before go-time.
He accumulated points in three races to qualify: two of them went all right, the third, well, not so much.
"One of them was absolutely rubbish. I barely finished, it was like 38 degrees on the run leg and I couldn't handle it,” he said of that day at Robina.
"I train twice a day each weekday and then once a day every weekend. One day I thought I'd go for a run, started to get into it and met a few people who eventually convinced me to go for a ride. I've been training ever since.”
The 18-year-old said competition and banter between he, Troy Geltch and Nick Daes, helped push them higher.
"It's great. At Rainbow Beach, we all finished within a minute of each other. It makes you strive to train harder.”
The chance to do something and challenge himself led Nick Dawes to train for in triathlons. He still remembers that first race.
"It was rough, it was s***,” he laughed. "No, the swim was terrible but I made it out. During the run I was thinking 'I can't do this, I can't do this'. Then I crossed the finish and I thought 'is that it?”
He was straight back into it. He completed the Tri Fraser Coast, then competed in the Hervey Bay 100, a decision he looks back at and considers a good decision despite his affection for short-distance events.
"Looking back, yes, otherwise I'd still be doing the small stuff and not trying for anything. I'm always trying to push myself,” Dawes said.
"Having those two guys there (Troy Geltch and Tom Ralston), we train together, push each other, it helps.”
Dawes, who plays for Magpies in Hervey Bay Hockey, will compete in the male 20-24yrs sprint distance.
"I'd like to say (it's my pet), I am pretty quick,” he said.
"We had a competition between ourselves at Rainbow Beach. Tom beat us out of the water, Troy on the bike, then me on the run. I wont both.”
Dawes will be the only member of this group in the sprint distance event, but he is still aiming for the pointy end of the competition.
"With injuries, I have to build that fitness back up. If I haven't got enough up there one or two weeks out I won't do too well. My training is going to be really hard from now until the world championships.
"There's 60 in my age group. The goal for me is to be mid-pack in the swim, hang on for the ride then all-out for the run.”