Why triathlon? Why not? It’s fun, inclusive and keeps you motivated. What a great sport.
Introducing Shellie Burgess, recently joined Bathurst Triathlon Club. Shellie started out in triathlon by participating in the run leg of a relay team. A year later Shellie participated in a women's only triathlon, an initiative run by the Bathurst Triathlon Club. Here is Shellie's inspiring tri story.
Who inspired you into the sport of triathlon?
My dear friend Anna Blackie had been trying to convince me for a good 2 years to have a go but I never felt I was even vaguely capable of doing a tri! She is such an inspirational person who has taught me, as well as many many other women, that it is about having a go and finishing as much as you can with a smile on your face.
You started out in a relay team, how was that experience?
Fantastic fun and a great way to have a sampler of tri’s when I wasn’t confident I was 'good enough’ to do one on my own. I work for a great organisation called Marathon Health and we formed several teams to join in at our local Bathurst Wallabies round. We had staff, family members and even a couple of our clients who joined us in our teams and it was a blast (picture below)! The build up was fantastic as it got everyone moving a little more and on event day it was a wonderful team bonding experience where we also learnt that Bathurst Wallabies Tri Club is terrifically inclusive, no matter your ability.
How soon after did you decide to swim, bike and run solo? What was the experience like?
We were very fortunate in Bathurst to have a specific Women in Tri event organised by our local club. It was a women’s only event held in October 2018 and this was to be my first individual event 8 months after the team event. In the lead up to the event, the club supported us with excellent information sessions and training groups to help build all of our confidence and skills. It was truly a magical experience. When women wholeheartedly support other women it is incredible what can occur! I was so proud to be a part of it and also so proud of myself for pushing far beyond my comfort zone.
What are the next steps of the pathway after the women's triathlon information sessions?
The info sessions were fantastic, very well attended and a huge credit to the Bathurst Wallabies Triathlon Club. It was certainly the first step in making us all see that triathletes are just normal people and that maybe, just maybe, we could all do it too. We asked all sorts of silly questions and we were given every reassurance you can imagine, from “yes you can use flippers and a pool noodle” to “yes you can wear a sports bra under your swimmers!”
We then all chose how much or how little we wanted to engage in the extra training sessions. Some of us learnt how to check our tyre pressures for the first time and others rode a bike on the road for the first time. My goal was to learn the basics so I learnt how to change gears (on my mountain bike as I didn’t have a road bike), grew my confidence so I didn’t ride the brakes down hills and built up my swimming distance from the 50m I achieved on day 1. I even learnt to breath on both my left and right side in the water!
Have you convinced any friends, who thought they would never get into triathlon, to give it a try?
I think this has been a real collective effort from the community led by the Women in Tri event and organisers that achieved this. I certainly talked about it ALOT to anyone who would listen and I tried to rally as many people to join in while we had this fantastic opportunity presented to us. I also thought that if I was going to drown I’d like some others to do it with me! And of course when people now say to me “I can’t swim that far” or “I don’t know how to ride a bike” which is what I used to say to Anna, my standard response is “don’t let that stop you. I didn’t!"
What is it about the BTC environment that makes it appealing for those women who might be hesitant about doing a triathlon or daunted to join a club?
Safety in numbers with a group of people who you can relate to. At that first Women in Tri event we could all see that everyone was as full of nerves (and excitement) as the next person and that made it feel okay. From the outside, fast people with flash gear can be pretty intimidating. For me, seeing someone riding a bike with a basket on the front or a group of typically sedentary women in their 60s teaming up (both true stories) is extremely inspirational. And then when you see the fast flash people helping out and encouraging these people, they all of a sudden aren’t so intimidating anymore.
Of course, when you have a club of genuinely kind and caring people who go above and beyond to reassure you that you are welcome, it is hard to stay away. We have hit the jackpot here in Bathurst.
What are the benefits of being a member of a triathlon club?
A supportive club takes what is most commonly an individual sport and gives it a team feel and with that comes all of the benefits that you experience from being in a great team. There is always someone there to answer questions or help you out and it feels wonderful to be able to share in each other’s successes and have a laugh when things don’t quite go to plan! Stacks in transition, running courses backwards or putting visors on instead of helmets are all much funnier when you can share it with others
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Don’t let fear of not being able to do something stop you and definitely don’t let fear of what others will think of you stop you.
Your family are also into triathlon, how fantastic and supportive is it to try together?
One of the best outcomes from me taking up triathlons is that my kids have watched me do it. I have a huge amount of pride watching my husband and kids finish a tri with a smile on their faces. My 6 year old daughter has typically been super competitive in any sport she has tried but tends to lack a lot of skill to go with it! Her attitude with triathlons is very different and she knows that the goal is to finish, not to ‘win’.
As a family we have just got back from a long weekend away to the Snowies Ultra Trail Run Festival where my husband took part in his first Xtri event. What an awesome excuse to spend time together as a family.
Why not? It’s fun, inclusive and keeps you motivated. What a great sport.