Special event added to Airlie Beach Triathlon
In a concerted effort to be inclusive, this year’s Hog’s Breath Airlie Beach Triathlon is adding a new event to its program.
Just the fourth race of its kind in Australia, the Autopro Special Tri gives athletes with special needs the opportunity to compete over two different distances.
While the inaugural race will be held on Saturday afternoon, in conjunction with the junior event, athletes of any age can compete and can have the assistance of a guide where necessary.
The guide may be a family member or friend, or one of the Whitsunday Triathlon Club members who have their weight, and experience, behind the concept.
The race was suggested by club member Dawn Romanella, who has a child with special needs, and the concept was warmly received by club president Steve Jackson, who himself has two siblings with special needs.
“I have experienced coaching basketball teams that my brother and sister were a part of in the Special Olympics movement,” he explained.
“Having seen the joy their involvement brings and having witnessed the Special Tri events at Noosa and Mooloolaba triathlons, I just thought that it was something we could add to our program.
“Our decision was reinforced when triathlon was added to this year’s global Special Olympics event.”
Meanwhile, training is beginning to ramp up for athletes of all ages, with an increased presence at club sessions, at Cannonvale Swim Centre sessions and treading the boards along the Bicentennial Boardwalk.
“Being the first race in the immediate region, the Airlie Beach event is often a kickstart into the summer, which sees a much more relaxed event and a late flurry of training,” Jackson said.
To assist in the closing weeks, locals are encouraged to join the cycling sessions with Ride Whitsundays and head along each Sunday afternoon at 3pm to the Port of Airlie Beach for ocean swim practice.
Online entries remain open until midnight on September 3, with late entries accepted on September 5.
However, late entries are unable to be guaranteed an event shirt.
The Airlie Beach Triathlon offers enticer (300m swim, 10km cycle and 2.5km run) and sprint (750m swim, 20km cycle and 5km run) distances as well as team options.
There are also various children’s events to suit a wealth of age groups and abilities. This year’s Airlie Beach Triathlon has also incorporated a schools’ challenge, which will see each of the local schools battle it out for $1000 worth of sports equipment. For more information, phone Steve Jackson on 0408 236 483.