Pro team tackles Tri-port
THE Tri-Port Half Iron Distance triathlon in September will be used as the launching pad of a new professional triathlon team with strong connections to Port Douglas.
Team Latitude features some of Australia’s best professional triathletes headed by Tim Berkel, the three-time Ironman winner who will lead a handful of promising senior and junior triathletes to compete in long distance and iron distance events around Australia.
The team is the brainchild of former Port Douglas businessman Guy Besley, who is now based in Melbourne with Latitude Travel Services largely promoting the Far North.
Besley said the main aim of Team Latitude is to give back to the sport of triathlon by assisting small races and clubs build their profile.
“I’ve competed in well over 100 triathlons for 15 years and I love triathlon, I wish I could be a professional athlete but I am lacking one major thing - talent,” he said.
“This is another angle to be involved in the sport and meet some inspiring athletes, these are long course guys who do a lot of hard work because they love the sport and I love the sport.”
Team Latitude has so far signed up Tim Berkel, Ollie Whistler, Mitch Robins, Mitch Anderson, Michael Murphy and Matty White.
“The younger blokes struggle in professional triathlon, let alone any professional sport and the senior blokes are a good bunch of people,” he said.
“I got the idea to get the senior and junior guys together and go to the lesser known races and the Port Douglas long course is something I put together originally six years ago with the Cairns Crocs and is arguably the toughest triathlon in Australia.
“We’ll bring highly ranked and rated athletes and bring huge publicity to smaller races and Port Douglas - it’s already growing into a cult race triathletes want to try before they retire.”
Team Latitude aims to bring the athletes to the smaller grassroots races and give everyone a chance to meet the athletes for a casual drink or function.
At the moment there is a minimum appearance fee to help pay for the athletes’ airfares but Besley said they are looking for corporate sponsors.
“The idea is to get the younger guys to race with the senior guys in more types of races than they are normally able to go to and the senior guys benefit from giving back to the sport they enjoy,” he said.
“The triathletes prefer these races and to be able to sit down afterwards and have beer and chat because they do it for the love of it, not money.
“There’s nothing done like this in Australia to my knowledge and it has started to develop in Europe with a few teams starting to get off the ground, so it does have potential and more chances to get sponsors for the athletes.”
Check out Team Latitude’s website and the professional tri-athletes at www.teamlatitude.com
The Tri-Port Half Iron Distance triathlon, with its 1.9km swim, 90km bike ride and 21.1km hike, will be run on September 1.
The event will also feature an Olympic distance triathlon consisting of a 1.5km swim, 40km bike ride and 10km run as well as a sprint event consisting of a 750m swim, 20km bike ride and 5km run.