I have said it many times before but it is so true: we are spoiled for choice when it comes to being active in Newcastle.
There are no shortage of places to run, walk, swim, cycle, rollerblade or whatever it is that takes your fancy to get moving.
There are also no shortage of events.
This month, the Sparke Helmore Newcastle City triathlon will be staged around the Newcastle foreshore.
It is on February 24 and offers participants of a range of abilities the chance to enter a triathlon as an individual or as a team.
Last week, I caught up with Bar Beach couple and owners of Hunter Valley Events Gus Maher, 64, and Louise Maher, 56, who have teamed up with Louise’s 58-year-old brother Michael Tosh to enter the sprint distance race.
They are all active people but have never done a triathlon before.
Louise is a keen swimmer, though admitted her last race was “at my school swimming carnival”.
Gus has a running background and Michael is a cyclist.
By pooling their strengths it meant they could take part in the local event while giving them all something to train for.
“I just love swimming and, since moving from the Hunter Valley, I’ve said one thing I’d really like to do is get into ocean swimming,” Louise told me.
“I thought something like this event would help kickstart that. It’s a local event and it’s safe and I feel supported in it.”
Their race comprises a 750-metre swim in the harbour, a 22-kilometre cycle and a 5km run.
There are longer and shorter races as well in the enticer – 300m swim, 15km cycle and 2.5km run – and the standard/Olympic distance race of 1.5km swim, 37km cycle and 10km run.
“As a team we’ll work well,” Gus said. “I can’t swim a hundred metres and Mick’s knees are shot. I run, Mick rides and Louise swims, so between the three of us we had a team.
“The good thing about a team triathlon is that you just take the individual skills and anyone can do it. You hear the word triathlon and think of Port Macquarie [Ironman Triathlon] or the Olympic [distance], but anyone can do a team triathlon.
“If you get three people together who can ride, swim and run, most people can do it and it’s just about being part of it, getting out there and enjoying yourself.”
Race director Paul Humphreys said participant numbers were up on recent years with plenty of first-timers as well as those who have done the event numerous times.
“We have a lot of people who have progressed from being part of a relay team in our shortest event, to three years later completing the longest event as an individual,” Paul said.
“So many people want to continuously challenge their fitness and this is the perfect event for them.”
For the first time there will be the City of Newcastle Ocean Paratriathlon Championships. Newcastle’s Lauren Parker, who has her sights set on the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics, will be favourite in her classification.
Upcoming Fitness Events
Maximum Adventure Race Series, Lake Macquarie, February 16: It features a classic and novice team event combining mountain biking, trail running and kayaking.
Sparke Helmore City Triathlon, Newcastle Foreshore, February 24: Choose between an enticer, sprint or Olympic distance course or get a team together. It also includes the inaugural staging of the City of Newcastle Oceania Triathlon Union Paratriathlon Championships.
NewRun 2019, Newcastle Foreshore, April 7: The 5km, 10km, 21.1km and kids 2km courses are back plus a new 42.2km option. The marathon is three flat loops.
Summer Sizzling Sessions
Mix up training with a triathlon session.
This might be a 300-metre to 700-metre swim, followed by a 10-kilometre to 26km cycle then a 3km to 5km run.
Or choose interval sessions for each leg on three different days during the week. That could be swimming 1km with an easy lap or two then a harder lap or two. Cycling might be 1km efforts with a rest and running could be 500m to 1km efforts with rests.
At the gym, use the rower, bike and treadmill for a different triathlon and do shorter intervals with rests for a set period of time or a steady timed effort for each leg.
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Renee Valentine is a writer, qualified personal trainer and mother of three.