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Tri Club Feature: Deb Fuller, Byron Tri Club

On a perfect Winter morning in beautiful Byron Bay we met up with Deb Fuller over a caffeinated brew, at one of her regular hangouts. The meeting was inspiring, encouraging and a friendly reminder that we need to feature the great people behind our triathlon clubs in New South Wales (NSW). The inspiring people making strong and positive impacts on the sport of triathlon in NSW! 

The highly ambitious and motivated Byron resident has established a great offering for swim, bike and run enthusiasts (and for those yet to discover the phenomenon) in Byron and surrounds, where they can socially train together, motivate one another, through the many activities on the club schedule, and enjoy the best of the Byron shire as they swim, bike and run.

Hi Deb, let’s chat triathlon!

Why triathlon? 
Focusing on more than one discipline is good cross training and it’s great having a backup activity in the event of injury or poor weather. 

What inspired you into the sport of triathlon?
I watched the Byron Bay Triathlon in May 2007 and decided that I wanted to be part of this amazing event the following year.  Once I completed my first event I was hooked!

How was the Byron Tri Club formed and who makes up its member base?
I was part of a social group who run and swam a couple times a week for 11 years and was asked by a couple of international triathletes why Byron Bay had an annual triathlon event and no established triathlon club. It did appear odd as Byron has the ideal climate and surrounds for all disciplines. This interest opened up an opportunity to setup a new club. The Byron Bay Cycle Club was approached to help set up an associated club with the view of offering its 100+ members a choice of a bike or Triathlon licence. 

Do you have a variety of mixed abilities, ages and levels within the club?
Our Club consists of young experienced triathletes and older social athletes. We even have a double transplant member. No juniors (yet!).

What does it mean to be a member of a triathlon club?
It allows me to mix with like-minded people who are supportive and encouraging. Being in a club allows members to participate in triathlons anywhere in Australia or the world! 

What is the sense of community and supportive environment of a tri club like?
Byron Bay is a small town and has a strong sense of community. Most of the local clubs are incredibly supportive of each other. Our club encourages members to participate in local events and join other clubs such as the Byron Runners Club, the Byron Surf Club or the local Mountain Bike club. 

What does the club structure look like each week?
All year round there are two morning run/swim sessions each week and a Park Run at Ballina every Saturday. The Cycle Club offers training rides 6 days a week. We are very lucky to have a ocean water triathlon specialist who donates his time and provides blocks of swim squad evening pool sessions each week in summer and winter.  There is an ocean swim group that meets at 8am every day and anyone is welcome to join this group.  During Daylight Saving there is a Splash n Dash event every Friday evening followed by Fish and Chips on the beach! We ran our first off-road triathlon this year and due to its success will run it again next year!

What are the local facilities and setting like where you train?
Byron has an ocean at its doorstep as well as an outdoor Olympic pool. Running to the Byron Lighthouse is a regular event however there are bush trails and a running track at the Sports Centre to choose from. We are hoping to have a cycle circuit soon where bike/run/bike training sessions can be run at the Sports Centre.

Some members have come from other sports – how easy do they transition from other sports into triathlon and why?
Most committed athletes cross train and taking up triathlons formalises the process. From a cycling perspective it is safer to race in a triathlon than in a bunch road race. A triathlon licence is not only cheaper than a cycle race licence but also covers the member (insurance) for running, swimming and cycling. Therefore, the transition is easier.  Having a backup discipline is good for mental health too!

How important do you think a junior pathway program is and how motivated are you to establish one?
Juniors are incredibly important to the sport. Succession planning is critical to every club. I feel very passionate about developing a program for youths. A grant application has been submitted for the completion of our cycle track at the Sports Centre. Once complete I envisage junior cycling programs and proficiency courses will be offered to the local schools and run at the centre. We are fortunate to have a few cycle coaches in our club.

If someone was sitting on the fence wondering which sport to try and you had one sentence to encourage someone to ‘try TRI’ – what would it be?
“Don’t put all your eggs into the one basket, try some cross training which will keep you fit, help reduce injuries and give you a great sense of accomplishment”

How excited are you for the season ahead and the all-new interclub series?
The North Coast Interclub series is a fabulous way of keeping members interested and focused on the sport. It also adds value to membership and makes it worthwhile. I’m very excited about the series!

Finally, what are your aspirations for the Byron Tri Club, where would you like to see it in 5-years’ time?
Our club is very new and I’d like to see it grow to a manageable size of about 50-80 members. There are 21 schools in the Byron Shire and I’m hoping the club would be able to offer these schools cycling proficiency certificate courses, cycling safety programs as well as cycle races for juniors in a safe traffic free environment.  In 5 years we’d like to be in a position of hosting the Club Championships. 

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