Health and Fitness: Sparke Helmore City Triathlon set to celebrate 25 years on February 25

One of Newcastle’s longest-running events is set to celebrate a milestone year this month with the 25th running of the Sparke Helmore City Triathlon, scheduled for February 25.

And this year, the course has the unique addition of a hairpin section of the bike leg, courtesy of the Newcastle 500 Supercars event.

After missing out on places in a corporate triathlon in Sydney back in 1993, then partners of Sparke Helmore Lawyers Paul Anicich and John Davis saw an opportunity to start their own event in Newcastle with the newly developed foreshore as its backdrop.

One quarter of a century later and the event has become one of the city’s flagship sporting and fitness events.

Paul Humphreys has been the event director for 17 years and anticipated more than 1500 participants and 3000 spectators to take part in this year’s event.

He said the move to have its home base near Queen’s Wharf last year proved successful, putting spectators closer to more of the action.

He also hoped to see a few of the volunteers and competitors from over the years get along this month to help celebrate the milestone.

“The 2018 triathlon will give participants and spectators the unique opportunity to connect with and experience Newcastle’s renewed precinct while taking in one of the most picturesque and unique harbours in Australia,” he said.

“This year in particular, we want to reconnect with the thousands of people who have competed or volunteered since the first Triathlon in 1994. They are the reason why it has been so successful and we would love to see them at the starting line, as a volunteer on the course or in the crowd to celebrate its 25th anniversary.”

The triathlon caters to competitors of all shapes, sizes and abilities from the first-time novices to the hard-core professional athletes.

There are three different courses, for individuals or team entries. 

The Olympic course comprises a 1500-metre swim, 35-kilometre bike ride and 10km run. It also includes five laps of King Edward Park.

The Sprint distance is 750m swim, 22km ride and 5km run. The Corporate/Enticer race is a 300m swim, 15km ride, all of which is flat, and a 3km run.

“So many people start in a team event and want to continuously challenge their fitness. Within a year or two, they’re competing solo,” Humphreys said.

This year the swim starts from Queen’s Wharf and heads west before returning east and Humphreys said the addition of the hairpin section of the Supercars track was “an exciting instalment”.

This year, organisers have chosen to support Newcastle paraplegic triathlete Lauren Parker through the Lauren Parker Foundation.

Parker was paralysed from the waist down in a freak training accident in April last year.

Last month the inspirational 29-year-old performed well a paratriathlon event in Melbourne and finds out this month if it was enough to earn a place in the Australian team for the Commonwealth Games.

Early bird entries close at midnight today for the Sparke Helmore City Triathlon.

Sizzling Summer Sessions

For the rest of this month, this space is devoted to interval sessions which can vary greatly depending on what you are training for. If you are not training with anything specific in mind, they are a good way to mix up your training regime while also improving speed and fitness.

You can use time or distance. Start short and fast and build up your distance over time or go longer and each week try to improve your times. Give this session a go:

4 x 400 metre efforts with 60 to 90-second recoveries;

8 x 200m efforts with 30 to 60-second recoveries.

Add a warm-up and cool-down.

Upcoming fitness events

Free lunchtime tai chi class, Civic Park, February 13: Revitalising Newcastle are hosting a range of free health and fitness activities and this week it is a tai chi session. Class starts at 12.30pm.

Sparke Helmore City Triathlon, February 25, Newcastle Foreshore: Various distances from novice to hardcore and individual as well as team entries.

Water Works Ultra Marathon, Walka Water Works, Oakhampton Heights, March 18: This “ultra” event offers a gruelling test of stamina and fitness in our very own backyard. It has 50km and 100km options and also the opportunity for team entries.

Renee Valentine is a writer, qualified personal trainer and mother of three.