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Club President Appreciation Week 2020

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This week we are excited to launch Club President Appreciation Week. Over the next five days, we will be giving some love to the club presidents doing awesome things across the state, from first-time presidents in new clubs, to longtime leaders breathing life into stalwart clubs. 

ANDREW LISTER - PORT MACQUARIE TRI CLUB

We received a special note of appreciation from a Port Mac TC club member about their president, Andrew Lister, in the form of a poem. 

AndrewL

Andrew Lister - the real Mr. 

He's the ultimate president for the triathletes of Port 
He willingly offers his help and support 
With a positive attitude that never falls short 
Such a great mentor to have on our sport 

Leading a culture of family and friends 
With newbies to the club, his time, he spends 
Enlisting more female athletes bucking the trends 
On his leadership our club depends
 He's been in his role for over a decade 
And certainly deserves this accolade.

_ _ _ _ _

DAVID WILES - WARRINGAH TRI CLUB

If you are not moving forward, then you are going backwards. Taking the reins of a well-oiled and formidable machine can often be a impossible task. Not for David Wiles. Under his leadership, Warringah continue to take progressive strides in many areas of the clubs operations, from improving safety for members to adding member benefits through sponsors. We chatted to David about his superstar club and how Warringah continuously strive to be best practice in all areas.

Warringah1

Introduce yourself & tell us about your first experience in triathlon
David Wiles, I went to watch the 2000 Ironman Australia in Forster, with a friend, I had never been to watch a triathlon before. I was in awe of these normal people, just as much as I was blown away by the professionals, Norman Stadler and Lori Bowden who won that year. I stayed until about 10pm before heading back to Sydney, the whole way home I wished I had stayed for the last competitor and then over the next week or so, I thought one day I'll do that. 

I stopped playing rugby in 2003 and started cycling, running and swimming instead. Like a lot of triathletes coming in to the sport after playing or competing in another sport, I was 34 and just loved it and loved racing. 

In 2004 I did Noosa, Nepean and the Canberra Half Iroman and got a spot in the 2005 Forster Ironman. Totally under prepared,  I had my coach at that time, Chris Hanrahan, write a program that went from 1st January to 3rd April, he said if you do these sessions, you'll finish.  I did every single session.

 I'd been dreaming of running over that bridge in Forster for five years and I felt so humbled that I was going to race Forster, even more so when a week before the race Ironman announced that the race would move to Port Mac the following year.  

I did finish, after better than expected swim and bike and about 12kms of running the rest was brutal and I swore I'd never do it again....until I was on the blue finish chute mat when I just thought 'you have got to come back and do this properly!' 

I was hooked and along the way I have done 11 more full distance races Port Mac, Busselton, Lanzarote, Challenge Wanaka (x4), Challenge Cairns, Melbourne, Challenge Weymouth, Roth, maybe 30 half ironman and lots of other races.

How long have you been president of your club? 

I have been president for 3 years, after 2 years as vice president and 10 years with Warringah Triathlon Club, I was actually in the BRATS for 6 years before that, before I moved to the Northern Beaches.

What have been some of the highlights during your time in the role?

  • Coordinating a club with 350 members means that I know a huge number of our athletes and its like a huge family, we pride ourselves on being a club for everybody and I recall our Christmas Edition Club Race in 2018, when we had male and female ITU professionals racing alongside juniors and seniors doing their first races along with the speedy and slow age groupers across the sprint and enticer races...that's who were are here for! Everyone. 
  • We rely on volunteers for the committee (they've all been brilliant), our club race set up team, social coordinators, kit managers, race captains, junior coordinators, marketing managers, run club coordinators, ride captains etc. We are so fortunate to have so many generous decent people around us, its a highlight every time I think about the goodwill we are spreading in our community.
  • We instigated a re-appreciation for our 8 life members in the last year, generally one a month at events or at races, awarding them all a special medallion key ring, with the image of our legend Geoff Thorsen (25 Konas), sharing a bit of the clubs 33 year history with the current members has been fascinating! 
  • We subtly redesigned the training and race kit a couple of years ago, (also bringing back to a Northern Beaches supplier, Catfish) and have had a terrific uptake. More members in club colours has an obvious effect when our members are racing, the recognition of support between members fuels a team spirit and you race faster in Warringah kit!
  • WTC held a fund raiser for Lauren Parker (Newcastle Tri Club) following her accident in 2017 that left her in a wheelchair, we hosted Lauren at Manly Surf Club and raised over $11,000, we have continued to support Lauren with fund raising events each year, but also we are huge fans of what she has achieved and follow her career now in para-triathlon. 
  • Earlier this year we hosted members from the Volunteer Fire Service to come and race our club race for free and we donated all profit from that race to the Bush Fire appeal, with additional donations collected on the day.
  • Every year at Club Champs, we have had good representation and our team has been fantastic both on and off the course. I'm so proud of the team when we are racing and partying! 
  • Our racing record has been consistently good too having been a top Australian club in the Ironman TriClub Ranking each year, winning the Noosa Tri Club award in 2019, winning the Oceana TriClub in 2018 and 2019. We also have had athletes representing Australia and many other countries at the ITU Sprint and Olympic Distance World Champs each year. 
  • The time I signed Xavier Gomez up to Warringah Triathlon Club!!  

Xavier
Warringah has a very unique format for their club races. How have you maximised competitor safety at this race location and for your events?

Yes indeed our North Head Club Race Triathlons have a unique format of sheltered harbour swim,  2.8km hill run transition, bike and run .... it makes us stronger!!! 

As a committee our strategic plan prioritised that 'we shall host the safest races we can, that are open and inviting to all'.  To that end we have put in a lot of effort to ensure we have the right team planning, organising and delivering the races. Deanna Water is our most qualified Technical Official was appointed as our Race Director and we undertook the following:-

  • Improved the course - We updated our traffic management planning and the course approximately 5 years ago to make is safer to manage the course, for cyclists and in the event of an incident. To manage the course, we have about 8 club members who are now Authorised traffic controllers, all of whom we funded to get licenced, they generously volunteer on rotation every race.  
  • Ensure AEDs available - We also funded regular race day volunteers to obtain first aid certificates and we are fortunate to have a few doctors, nurses and paramedics in the club that we keep a note of when they are racing. Following one of our members having a sudden cardiac arrest at club champs in 2018 and being saved by quick acting club members and an AED, I vowed we would never host another race event without an AED on site. Although sanctioning does not require an AED for races of our numbers we now have two AEDs on course and people who are trained to use them.
  • Well resourced Water Safety - We have a motor boat and board paddlers throughout the swim, despite the water being sheltered we encourage new comers and want to provide confidence that there is someone at hand if need be. We got larger, brighter sighting buoys and supply Warringah swim caps to improve course navigation and improved visibility of the swimmers.
  • Reduced Congestion on Course - We stagger the race start with enticer short course first so that enticer participants have more space in the swim and then the bike course is not congested.
  • Bench marked Best Practice  - We have built a strong relationship with TriNSW, NPWS and the Northern Beaches Traffic Police and sought their feedback, whilst preparing the detailed race safety plans and contingency plans.  We also reached out to other clubs who we knew also manage their own races, Balmoral and Hills, to seek out best practice and share our experience.  
  • Post Race Reviews - We have a post race report every race and seek out how we can make the races safer and more attractive
  • Race Manuals and Briefing- Our race manuals have what you need to expect plus full course details and maps. Every race has a full briefing, following the pre-race course inspection.

What tips can you offer for signing sponsors for clubs, which Warringah has been very successful at?

We are incredibly grateful to our main sponsors Bill Buckle Subaru Brookvale, SquareOne Physio Balgowlah, Mona Vale Dental, LJ Hooker Dee Why, Nick Marshall Jewellery and 99 Bikes Brookvale, as it is through their generosity that the club can support juniors, subside club races, subsidise kit and promote the benefits of well being of the club in our area.

We very consciously have chosen to:-

  • engage with local businesses that are aligned with the clubs philosophies 
  • Ensure there is a mutual benefit
  • Be clear what the club proposes to do with the sponsors funds
  • Subsidised cycling kit and free training shirts / caps for members with club and sponsors logos, getting our association out there.
  • Have direct engagement with each sponsor via our nominated sponsor liaison manager, Shannon Quartly.
  • a simple memorandum of understanding between the club and the sponsors sets out what the sponsors can expect to give and receive from each other 
  • Invite main sponsors to club races to see how we operate and so that our members meet them, so that they are part of the club
  • Provide a controlled forum through our club FB page for the sponsors to showcase their offers
  • We have events / info nights at their showrooms, shops and clinics.

Speed round!
Your favourite race: Challenge Wanaka - Simply stunning location, well organised race, but a solid challenge, I cant stop going back! 4 x Full and 3x Halfs!
Your favourite club event: Our races at North Head, open to all.
Your favourite gel flavour: GU Tri Berry
Your ‘pump up’ training song: Long Way to the Top - ACDC 

To find out more about Warringah TC, click here.

_ _ _ _ _

KELLY ATKIN - BALMORAL TRI CLUB

Running a Triathlon Club can have its challenges. However, overcoming these challenges - that is where the rewards and benefits are found for volunteer committee members who donate so much of their free time and ask for very little in return. Overcoming these challenges, ensuring that their club continues to thrive and develop in a way that adds value to its members, that is what drives them.  North of the Harbour Bridge in Sydney, Balmoral Triathlon Club continue to go from strength to strength despite the unique challenges that come with being based in that part of NSW under the meticulous and determined eye of Kelly Atkin.

Balmoral1

Introduce yourself & tell us about your first experience in triathlon.

My name is Kelly Atkin and I am the President of Balmoral Triathlon Club, located in the beautiful leafy suburb of Mosman on the Lower North Shore of Sydney. It’s not a bad place to train for triathlon or to be socially isolated during a global pandemic.

I moved to Sydney nine years ago unexpectedly and at quite short notice, and when I got here, knew nothing and no one. I have always enjoyed being outside and active so I started to look for a sports club nearby so I could meet people and keep fit. I stumbled upon a group running at a local oval one evening and this turned out to be our local triathlon club - BTC. I started going along to their training sessions and…I don’t even really know how but…it’s now escalated into completing marathons, ironman distance races, ocean swims (just swimming in general…) and many other things I wouldn’t have even contemplated ten years ago. Watch out for triathlon buddies - they talk you into doing some crazy things!                                                                                                      

What have been some of the highlights during your time as President?

My predecessors did a great job of establishing the initiatives our club offers and as the saying goes “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” so I’ve just tried to build upon what is already there, including developing the offering for junior club members. Over the past two seasons we have built up our Juniors Training Program so that we offer specific training sessions for our junior club members to prepare them for their races. It’s been great to see lots more junior BTC’ers out there racing at Hills triathlons, Husky, the Go Series, All Schools, not to mention our own BTC races. I feel very proud of them and am really happy to see that some of our junior members are now joining us at our regular training sessions.

Organising safe races is one of the challenges of being a club in central Sydney. How have the Balmoral committee overcome this obstacle to run their own club triathlons?

Choice of race venue combined with high quality Race Committee to plan, organise and manage the races. We are very lucky to have a headland (Middle Head) in our suburb which happens to contain a dead-end road, a bush reserve area, and a nudist beach. This provides us with relatively quiet areas for our bike, run and swim legs where we impact on as few non-triathlon people as possible. Fortunately, the beach isn’t popular with the nudies at 6.30am in the morning! However, this is still a central Sydney location and there are LOTS of stakeholders to lodge forms and plans with, seek approvals from, and keep informed each season. For this, we have an amazing Race Director who is all over the details and chasing things up, and who shoulders a lot of pressure (on top of their day job) even before race day itself. On race day, we have to be very careful about managing the races in light of businesses and the general public who are operating in the area of our race, especially the bike leg. So, we keep businesses well informed of when our races on and the impact on their road access, including a friendly in-person reminder the week prior to each race. We also make extra investments – we close off the road entirely to traffic and we have policemen to man the road closure. It’s extra work and cost but it ensures the bike leg is as safe as it can be for race participants.

Speed round!

  • Your favourite race: I’ve got a couple. Big Husky because of the location (Jervis Bay is beautiful) and the ‘vibe’ (a great balance of competitive but not too serious, and you can’t walk two steps without bumping into someone you know and having a chat), and IMWA because I love visiting Margaret River afterward for the wine and swimming with giant stingrays (although not necessarily in that order). I do love a good destination race and once this virus has cleared up I would love to give Hamilton Island and Rarotonga Triathlon (in the Cook Islands) a go.
  • Your favourite club event: I have a love-hate relationship with our club’s open water swim training sessions. But on a beautiful sunny afternoon at Balmoral Beach, when the water is clear and flat and I’m swimming surrounded by lots of friends (mostly in front of me to be honest) it’s great.
  • Your favourite gel flavour: Ugh…not gels. CLIF Shot Bloks are my go-to as gels just make me want to vomit! Something about the texture and the sickly sweetness of them. I’m just cringing thinking about gels now!
  • Your ‘pump up’ training song: Can’t go past a bit of Tay-Tay. Definitely not a ‘pump up’ tune but I’ve been listening to Debussy’s Clair de Lune over the past couple of days – highly recommended to anyone feeling a bit stressed by the current happenings in the world.

To find out more about Balmoral TC, click here.

JOE MCNAMARA - BALANCE & UTS TRI CLUB

It’s not just training and racing that makes a triathlon club tick; the truly special ones are a tight-knit community that over time becomes like a second family for their members. In the inner west suburbs of Sydney prevails Balance & UTS Tri Club, who have seamlessly achieved this feat year after year by ensuring that not only do their members achieve race goals, they also make friends & have a fun time while doing so. We chatted to ‘El Presidente’ Joe McNamara about how his club have put the balance back into triathlon life.

Balance1

Introduce yourself & tell us about your first experience in triathlon.

I'm Joe McNamara, president of Balance & UTS Tri Club. My first triathlon was a sprint distance race at the Penrith Regatta Centre in 2005. After thinking I might drown from a panic attack in the swim, my mate and I rode together on MTBs and made our way to the back of the field before trudging home on wooden legs in the run. I was hooked.

How long have you been president of your club?

3 years.

What have been some of the highlights during your time in the role?

1.           Launching our first club triathlon race, which has become an annual event.

2.           Training for and racing Ironman as club president. It was a great feeling.

3.           Kicking off an annual Sydney-based training camp which caters for all skill and experience levels.

4.           Presentation nights, where we get to recognize all the people who've achieved great things, made big contributions, or made big blunders :)

Balance & UTS pride themselves on keeping a ‘balance’ of social events as well as training & racing. How have you helped establish this fun and social element to the club?

We have a social element associated with all of the race and training events on our annual calendar. It could be pizza in the park, or back to the pub for dinner and drinks, so long as we're getting everyone together to dissect and laugh about the event. We also encourage members to stay after our regular weekly training sessions for coffee and a chat. Many members tell us they come for the social side as much as the training. Lastly, we don't take ourselves too seriously.

Legend has it that the ‘old boys’ team lost to the young kids in the Annual Balance Sprint Relay Team Championships at Husky. What went wrong, and are you already in training for next year? We were outgunned and outfoxed. That's all there is to it. Yes, training is already underway for next year. Given this year's poor performance in the swim by yours truly, I'm considering stepping into more of a team management role next year and recruiting Ian Thorpe as our swimmer.

Speed round!

        Your favourite race: Husky, closely followed by Nepean and Club Champs

        Your favourite club event: Presentation night

        Your favourite gel flavour: Espresso

        Your ‘pump up’ training song: I got a feeling

To find out more about Balance & UTS, click here.

Mark Preston - Eastern suburbs Tri Club

 

The Eastern Suburbs of Sydney is ripe with triathlon activity: residents are spoilt for choice with great swimming venues, running routes and cycling circuits that vary in length & difficult but always provide a scenic backdrop. Therefore it’s no surprise that it is also home to numerous triathlon clubs, respected coaches and top class athletes. Eastern Suburbs Triathlon Club, under the watchful and astute eye of Mark Preston, are just one of the clubs on the scene. In a heavily populated market, they continue to thrive as they offer something for everyone.

We caught up with Mark to hear some of the secrets to the success of Easts.

Easts2

 

Introduce yourself & tell us about your first experience in triathlon.

I am 66 years old and did my first triathlon around 1990 at Kurnell where the series was largely for beginners with distances increasing each month. The camraderie amongst my fellow triathletes was amazing and I was hooked. Since that day I have been to 5 World Championships with podiums from Cancun, Hamburg and Gold Coast as well as a number of Australian and NSW Championships to my name.

How long have you been president of your club?

I have been President of Eastern Suburbs Triathlon Club since our inception in 2010.

What have been some of the highlights during your time in the role?

The club has produced World champion performers  including Laura Siddall, Elliot Brown & Sally Taggart as well as young up and comers like Laura Brown and Justin Wendemuth, as well as being comprised of a fantastic bunch of people that ensure the club always punches above its weight in competition. We are also blessed with some great coaching talent in Chris Hanrahan, Gordon Campbell, Zoe Little and Susan King as well as former Triathlon Australia Youth Olympic Coach Adam Radford who played a role in Gwen Jorgenson`s Rio Olympics Gold Medal. However, the most pleasing factor of all is the loyalty of our membership base with over 75% of our members being with us since our inception.

Easts have two coaches that enable them to cater for all types of triathlete in the club. How do you balance a club with two coaches?

All of our coaches from PerformanceBy3, Plus Performance and 4SeasonsSwim are in close collaboration with athletes often switching between squads for specific sessions. Any prospective members are directed to the appropriate squad based upon their experience and ability. The model works well for us.

Speed Round!

Your favourite race: Big Husky always attracts the biggest numbers from our club and we always do well there.

Your favourite club event: Tomaree Triathlon Club monthly event at Soldiers Point, run by a great group of people with an amazing local spirit. Not too many options in Sydney`s east unfortunately. 

Your favourite gel flavour: Berry

Your ‘pump up’ training song: Runni9ng on Empty by Jackson Brown.

To find out more about Easts, click here.

_ _ _ _ _

Jason Dearmer - Dubbo TC

 

Today we start with the resurgent Dubbo Triathlon Club, who are enjoying a stellar 2020. An integral part of the Central West triathlon scene since their inception over 25 years ago – in October 1993 – Dubbo TC, like all volunteer-run clubs, have seen their fare share of ups and downs. Things are looking bright at the moment and the town at the far west of the region is seeing a boom once again in the sport of triathlon. We caught up with Club President Jason Dearmer to hear all about it.

Jason Dearmer Dubbo

Introduce yourself & tell us about your first experience in triathlon.

My first experience with a triathlon was in a Team Charity Race in 2015 which I did with my local gym group. It was so much fun, well run and everyone was very encouraging!

How long have you been president of your club?

This is my 3rd season as Club President, with the club having a committee change in 2017.

What have been some of the highlights during your time in the role?

Watching people participate and enjoy a triathlon that have never done one before. When they run through the finish line, get a high five and say 'when's the next one?'

Dubbo’s membership has been steadily increasing under your guidance at the club. Can you tell us how things like new kit, a social media presence and the club’s awesome junior racing have impacted membership?

As a committee we decided we really wanted to ensure the club's TriStars program started up again to engage junior triathletes and generate more involvement in the club, as well as help future-proof it. We want to use social media in a variety of ways through Facebook, Instagram as well as our website to engage with different audiences. Making it fun yet informative has been our aim! Also working hard to get some great photos during the season for competitors to share around! This season we have been fortunate enough to have some fantastic sponsors on board, as well as organised club uniforms and events marquee. This gives us more of an identity as a club, a beacon to flock to at out of town events and some great value for our club sponsors.

Speed round!

  • Your favourite race: Super Sprint (short swim!)
  • Your favourite club event: Dubbo Interclub
  • Your favourite gel flavour: Lemon Lime
  • Your ‘pump up’ training song: Make a Man Out of You - Mulan (Disney)

Thanks Jason for all your great work in Dubbo, and we look forward to seeing the Central West continue to grow next season!

To read more about Dubbo TC, click here.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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