Bargara duo Colin Stollery and Sue Phillips are heading overseas to compete in the International Triathlon Union World Cup in Lausanne, Switzerland.
Both said they're full of nerves as race day edges closer, but excited and privileged to be representing not only Australia but the Bundaberg Region in the international event, where they will compete among some of the world’s leading triathletes.
Sue and Colin have competed in triathlons before but said the thrill of lining up at the start of the race was still as high as ever.
The pair will race in the same age group (55-59 years), and they will tackle the standard distance of the Triathlon Union World Cup which is a 1.5km swim, 40km bike ride and a 10km run.
Eager to participate on the world stage again, Sue had been counting down the event for the past three months, and she said it was an honour to represent Australia, but there’s was the nerves to deal with first.
The mum-of-two said there was a lot of excitement and adventure in being part of the 35-member Australian team that would stand shoulder to shoulder with 4000 plus competitors at the ITU World Cup.
Colin said the course in Lausanne Switzerland was unlike those in Australia where the ride and run are generally on flat circuits.
“Currently my legs are rather sore because the last couple of weeks training pushed my legs to their max, and a little bit further,” he said.
“There are numerous hills on the Lausanne course that are up to 10 per cent gradients.
“With the benefit of technology, I have ridden the course a number of times on my smart trainer and it seems to be a course that is technical as well as incorporating tough hills to climb.
“Overall, I anticipate my time for this course will be slower, but everyone will endure the same conditions, so it’s about outlasting and outperforming the competition, a sprint finish may be necessary!”
A common mateship
Colin said he and Sue have a lot in common, from office jobs to both being parents, and there is now another common goal the pair share – a desire to compete in a sport they love.
Colin is Best Practice Software’s Application Delivery Analyst, working on internal business improvement projects and Sue is a clinical coder at the Bundaberg Hospital, and they met through exercise and training and often ride together to keep fit.
“We have travelled together to numerous races across Australia, including qualifying races and local events,” Colin said.
“That said, the journey and the race become the adventure, and the opportunity for achievement.”
Sue said she took part in triathlons for the health and fitness benefits, but there were other drivers that kept her motivated and moving.
“Nothing feels better than getting outside and being thankful for the beautiful place we live in,” Sue said.
“I was looking for something to do when my son left for university five years ago, (so) I started in triathlons with the local club training and racing.
“I had always been a runner and a very average swimmer but never been on a bike.
“It was a sharp learning curve and within a year had qualified for World Champs 2016 in Oklahoma, where I placed 5th in my age group – a huge surprise!!
“Since then I have represented at World Champs every year.”
In Rotterdam 2017 Sue placed 9th and at the Gold Coast 2018 she placed 23rd.
“Locally I have had many successful races with podium finishes for which I am very grateful,” she said.
“I recently did the Gold Coast 10km at the marathon festival and managed a PB time and placed 3rd in my AG. Great result for me giving me confidence going into this race in Switzerland.”
Lots of competition
Colin said triathlons seemed to be a sport that many people competed in, but the training was mostly solo, with the focus of each sessions different with the intention to work on the individual’s weaknesses and strengths.
“The early-morning walkers in Bargara will find me regularly running along the foreshore or swimming, mostly solo, between the boat ramp and the surf club,” Colin said.
“Both Sue and myself have different remote coaches who monitor our progress based on statistics such as heart rate, cycling wattage, cadence and training stress score.
“They provide feedback and set our programs for us to reach our goals.”
He said the climate and conditions in Bundaberg were ideal for triathlon training almost all year round, so it’s a great place to live and train.
“Unfortunately, in my age group, there’s a lot of males, myself included, who are trying to prove that age is not a barrier and by being fit and strong that we can dodge aging or at least hold it at bay for longer,” Colin said.
How you can become a triathlete
Colin said to get started in triathlon, you didn’t need to be an elite athlete and the The Bargara Triathlon Club hosted triathlons that had a category called Give it a Try”, for new comers.
“That’s how I got started. In my first race I competed riding my mountain bike and the distance was much shorter,” he said.
“I was soon hooked by the challenge of combining the three disciplines into one race.
“Then the desire to continue to improve and go faster has seen me become a stronger athlete.”
Earlier this year Colin took part in the Brissie to the Bay event with his son earlier this year and said it was a great event, filled with riders of different fitness levels.
“My son was probably the least fit and dropped out early on, leaving me to catch up to the larger group, which I did at the first rest station at 20km,” he said.
“I completed the 100km ride in 3:43, but more importantly was able to raise $325 for Multiple Sclerosis.
“I started doing triathlon because I enjoyed the sports of swimming, riding and running but I now compete for the challenge and I train so that on race day I can race faster than I have previously.”
“In some ways the adrenaline becomes a rush, that through the pain, is enjoyable!”
International Triathlon Union World Cup in Lausanne, Switzerland will be held on 29 August and 1 September.