Competitive bunch ready for Nowra

AS triathletes swamp the banks of the Shoalhaven River this Sunday for the Raine & Horne Nowra Triathlon Festival, local competitors will be at the heart of theaction.

Around 2500 spectators are expected for the event, which will feature junior events along with the popular beginners triathlon, The Enticer, which involves a 300 metre swim, 10 kilometre ride and two kilometre run.

The Sprint event involves a 750 metre swim, 20 kilometre ride and five kilometre run, but everyone’s eyes will be on the athletes in the main Olympic distance event which involves a 1.5 kilometre swim, 40 kilometre ride and 10 kilometre run.

Training year round for the summer triathlon season, Berry locals Tarni and Mitch Cunningham are this year’s junior competitors to keep an eye on.

Tarni, 18, has just finished her HSC at Bomaderry High School and said she has now been able to focus on her training for this year’s TriNowra and is ready to take out the top spot.

“My ultimate goal is to represent Australia in the Junior World Championships,” she said. 

“The standard of my age group is really tough though, so I have to be patient.

“I really enjoy triathlons so I’d just like to see how far I can get. I’m hoping to have a good race and a fast time, it’s a fast course so I’m looking forward to it,” she said.

Tarni began triathlons competitively about four years ago and hasn’t looked back.

“Originally I did swimming and running in primary school and triathlons were sort of a natural progression from that,” she said.

“I like the lifestyle and I like to train and use that time as an escape from other things.”

With a heat wave expected to come our way this weekend, Tarni said she thinks she can handle it as she experienced outrageous heat when she competed at the 2014 Penrith International Triathlon Union last weekend.

“I made the junior top 20 but it wasn’t my best race…it was 36 degrees or more but I managed with that.”

At 16-years-old Mitch Cunningham is not far off the success of his older sister and is currently sitting in the bronze position in the Australian Junior Triathlon Series. 

Mitch said he hopes to do well in the Nowra triathlon after placing first at Callala’s sprint race and second overall.

“I train about 16 to 20 hours a week and I’m pretty strong on the swim.

“Nowra’s a pretty good course but I like hills, I do better on them,” he said.

As a triathlon coach to the Cunninghams, casual PE teacher at Bomaderry High School and life-long competitor himself, triathlons are no secret to Robert Pickard.

Competing in the over 60s Olympic category this Sunday, Pickard said triathlons attract a lot of athletes because every event is environmentally different, holding an unknown quality.

“I’ve been training Tarnie and Mitch for six years and have been competing in triathlons myself for over 30 years,” Pickard said.

“I’ve done two ironman triathlons. They consist of a 3.8 kilometre swim, 180 kilometre cycle and a 42.2 kilometre run. 

“I did one in Hawaii in ’87 which is like the mecca of triathlons, I had to qualify for that one and I did one in Foster in ’90,” he said.

Pickard said the expected heat wave over the weekend will only make the race more interesting for him.

“There was a strong current in the river at last year’s race which made it more interesting.”

Road closures will be in place for the cycling legs through Terara, Millbank Road and Jindy Andy Lane.

For further event information and entry details go to www.eliteenergy.com.au.

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