According to Warragul’s Heidi Gratton the whole sport of triathlon and IRONMAN is contagious and she blames her addiction on the local Wild Dog Triathlon Club. Well, that is her explanation for firing up for the IRONMAN 70.3 Geelong on 18 February.
Heidi remembers a time before triathlon when she just enjoyed being outdoors, hiking, doing bit of mountain biking and laps swimming for fitness but nothing too eventful and definitely never competitive. Then the friendly folk at Wild Dog Triathlon Club introduced her to the world of swim/ride/run.
“In 2015, a friend and I started at the local Wild Dog triathlon club doing the ‘fun’ distance tri, just wanting to have a go at something different to keep fit that was social and family friendly. I had also started Parkrun three months prior and in those days a 5km run was a huge challenge and an achievement to finish without walking.”
“But then you meet other ‘friends’ at the tri club and the real challenges begin. ‘Hey Heidi do you want to do a 100km run with me,’ asked my good friend Steph. ‘Sure’ replied Heidi – that was late 2016. Then during the madness of the 100km run in early 2017 – ‘Hey Steph’ said Heidi, as she is grinding her way up yet another hill after more than 10 hours on her feet, ‘If I we get through this, how about we do an IRONMAN’. ‘Sure’ replies Steph. So that challenge of doing and IRONMAN still stands. What are friends for?” she said.
While Heidi’s group of friends lured her into the sport, in turn she has involved her whole family and even the children are having a crack at the IRONKIDS race.
“Having survived my first half distance race with the help and encouragement of Steph, Geelong looked good as the next local event. I like to try something new so having an ocean swim will hopefully put me one more step closer to a full IRONMAN.”
“Steph is signed up for Geelong too, and as a two times IRONMAN finisher her husband Jason is our support crew and coach extraordinaire. Steph supported my partner Pete doing the swim leg in a team at a previous race. So Pete is now trying to master swimming and he too has succumb to the pressure of joining ‘friends’ in the tri fun. The kids join in too, because it has got to be a family thing. See it all gets very contagious,” she laughed.
Heidi said she is starting to wonder what she used to do with my time before she started training for triathlon but thoroughly enjoys the social and community side of the sport.
“It is great to have others to train with to keep up the motivation and compare stories, and of course moan about what’s hurting most etc. My car is full of extra sports clothes, just in case I have extra time to drop in for a swim or run on the way home from work. Keeping to a plan appears to be paying off, even if the plan is a bit flexible.”
“For me it has to be fun and I like to mix up where I run or ride, this is assisted by the fabulous countryside around Warragul where I live. Unfortunately there are hills in every direction but this training makes racing the flats seem so much easier.”
As a first time competitor at IRONMAN 70.3 Geelong Heidi is excited to be racing in a new venue and over a fast and scenic course. While she will enjoy the racing the finish line is always a welcome sight after a tough day.
“I haven’t been to IRONMAN 70.3 but the shots on the promo video look good. So I am looking forward to the race. Finishing is always a good goal, but finishing in a good time would be a bonus. Please can we order a reasonable temperature. Something in the mid 20s would be nice.”
After IRONMAN 70.3 Geelong, Heidi has her eye on an even bigger prize and a full IRONMAN is not out of the question in the future.
“Steph, has signed herself up for IRONMAN Cairns in June 2018 but I’m still a step behind her, so perhaps I’ll go for New Zealand in 2019? All sorts of crazy things can happen when you hang around a heap of ‘friends’ at the local Wild Dog Tri Club,” she laughed.
The IRONMAN 70.3 Geelong is proudly supported by the City of Greater Geelong and Victorian Government.