Pro team tack­les Tri-port

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - SPORT - ANGELIQUE PAT­TER­SON

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 at­lat­i­

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.

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