IRONMOB Project: First Nations athletes make history at IRONMAN Australia

8 May 2024

The inaugural IRONMOB Project reached a triumphant conclusion on Birpai Country last Sunday, as all six First Nations athletes not only started but finished the gruelling 3.8km swim, 180km bike and 42.2km at IRONMAN Australia.

Developed by TRIMOB, a pioneering First Nations organisation dedicated to empowering its community through triathlon, the IRONMOB Project aims to empower First Nations people by completing the hardest one-day event possible, an IRONMAN.

The six athletes, Robert Briggs, Leisa Leon, Raymond Landers, Bobby Maher, Koorinya Moreton and Oliver Whiteley, joined a small group of Australian First Nations athletes to have completed an IRONMAN, with just 13 known to have achieved the feat before.

The sense of occasion was marked with a moving Welcome to Country given by local Elder Uncle Bill before the first athlete entered the water.

Whiteley led the pack with an impressive time of 11:41:02, setting a remarkable standard for debut performances.

Moreton followed, crossing the line in 13:09:15, closely followed by Landers in 13:19:44 and Leon in 13:42:52.

Briggs completing the course in 14:48:05, while Maher concluded the IRONMOB journey on the iconic red carpet, crossing the finish line with a time of 16:01:45.

For Leisa Leon, Sunday was about more than getting to the finish line.

“Representing my community and becoming one of a handful of First Nations women to complete an IRONMAN is an accomplishment,” Leon shared in a heartfelt reflection posted on her Instagram.

“And job done because I’ve had other mob reach out and say they want to have a crack in the past few days.

“This is why representation matters. This is why I wore that TRIMOB suit, carried that flag across the line and have gone on and on about representation in this sport.

“It matters, and it works. And we all crossed that line and I hope showed you we are capable, resilient and belong.”

Throughout the event, the support was palpable with chant “Up the Mob!” echoing across the course.

“The IRONMAN Australia community getting behind us and supporting us on course was surreal,” Leon said.

“The genuine friendliness and respect between athletes at the start line, the crowd cheering you on and hyping you up all day, the incredible course and those finish line feels makes it just so incredibly special.

“At one point a fellow competitor said ‘damn you have a lot of supporters’ as we ran past a quiet part of the course. That’s how much we were embraced and appreciated out there.”

The IRONMOB project has been a journey of growth and resilience for the athletes as they worked towards their ultimate goal of conquering IRONMAN Australia.

Throughout the project, athletes have participated in various camps, each designed to build their capacity and prepare them for the challenges ahead.

In May 2023, they faced their first test at the NSW Triathlon Club Championships, where they tackled a demanding course consisting of a 1km swim, 30km bike, and 8km run.

They then stepped up to the next challenge: the IRONMAN 70.3 Cairns, where they faced the daunting task of completing the 70.3 distance, either as individuals or as part of a team.

Finally, in November 2023, the athletes converged at the Noosa Triathlon, the largest triathlon festival in the southern hemisphere, where they faced a course comprising a 1.5km swim, 40km bike, and 10km run.

Building on the groundbreaking success of the program, the next IRONMOB Project sets its sights on completing IRONMAN Cairns in June 2025.

For more information on TRIMOB, click here.

For more information on the IRONMOB Project, click here.

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