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Army December 8, 2011
Swim 1 1.5km
26min 21sec 27min 02sec
Ride 1 34km
Run 1 20km
Swim 2 3.5km
Ride 2 40km
Run 2 13km
Swim 3 1.2km
Ride 3 24km
Run 3 12km
TOTAL 149.02km 14:30.30
reasons to tri
Raising awareness of, and money for, the Commando Trust was the
driving force behind one commando's efforts in the Sri Chinmoy
triple triathlon, Sgt Andrew Hetherington reports.
inscribed with the names
of Ptes Tim Alpin,
Benjamin Chuck and
Scott Palmer was all the moti-
vation WO2 A needed to fin-
ish the gruelling Sri Chinmoy
Triple Triathlon in Canberra on
"It didn't matter how much
training I'd completed, when I got
to the last triathlon I was tired, run-
ning on autopilot and the last bike
and run legs were a hard slog physi-
cally and mentally.
"Commandos I knew who'd died
doing their jobs provided me with
the inspiration to keep going."
This is how 40-year-old
Commando WO2 A described the
final stages of the event.
Nine men and one woman com-
mitted themselves to the solo cat-
egory of the gruelling 150km event,
which included swimming in three
different lakes, three mountain-bik-
ing legs and three run legs.
WO2 A, Socomd, completed his
second solo triple triathlon in 14hr
1min 30sec, shaving 28min off his
2010 time of 14:30.
"I was hampered by a leg injury
in 2010 so I had to hobble home in
the final stages," he said.
"This year I lost more than 10
minutes due to a puncture in the
first bike leg, and I also lost time
during the second swim leg due to
difficult weather conditions causing
a heavy swell."
The nine-leg race began at
5.30am with a 1.5km swim in Lake
Ginninderra. WO2 A came out of the
water after 27mins and was in fifth
place overall. After the transition he
began the first mountain bike leg of
"I was pretty happy after coming
out of the water, as you can lose the
race by going too hard in the first
swim," WO2 A said. "But during
the first ride I got a frustrating punc-
ture near Black Mountain Tower."
WO2 A then put in a huge effort
in his first run leg, which was a
20km slog, incorporating both
Mount Ainslie and Mount Majura,
knocking 22min off his 2010 time.
"The second swim leg in Lake
Burley Griffin gave all the compet-
itors trouble because of the wind
causing us to swim into a swell,"
WO2 A said.
"It was like I was swimming at
By the time he reached the second
run leg WO2 A said he was conscious
of what happened to him last year
during the 12km run up Mount Taylor
and down to Lake Tuggeranong.
"Last year I hit the wall with my
injury, so this year I managed to get
over the mountain without the same
problem occurring," he said.
"I'd run the leg a few times dur-
ing training to test my knee out and
came through, but it's different to
run it in training as opposed to the
race day, because in training you
don't have the build up of fatigue.
You can't replicate that in training."
WO2 A began the last triathlon
with a swim at Lake Tuggeranong.
At this stage he'd been competing
for nine hours.
"Fatigue really started to settle
in and after the swim I noticed there
was a solo competitor about 30 sec-
onds in front of me and another one
two minutes behind me," he said.
"This was different to last year
when I hardly crossed paths with
any solo competitors during the
After the final 24km bike and
13km run leg, WO2 A was relieved
to cross the finish line on the bank
of Lake Burley Griffin.
"Throughout the day I experi-
enced a number of unknowns won-
dering if my body was going to get
me to the finish line.
"The second half of the day
seemed to go faster than the first
though, and in the last mountain
bike leg I felt confident that I would
make it to the end.
"It felt fantastic to cross the fin-
ish line. I was thinking about each
of the 12 men we've lost since 2007
and it was great to use the event
to make people more aware of the
Commando Welfare Trust."
So how does someone train for
such an event?
"After my knee operation in
April and then rehab, I was doing
12 sessions a week including
cycling, running, swimming and
weights from July," WO2 A said.
"It was similar to what I do to
keep fit as a commando with refer-
ence to intensity and commitment,
but to remain on top of everything
as a commando there are so many
other skills you need to train for."
WO2 A said his reason for pun-
ishing his body two years in a row
was to raise funds for, and increase
awareness of, the Commando
"The trust provides emergency
funding for families of deceased
and injured commandos, filling
the gap between what Defence, the
Department of Veterans' Affairs and
Legacy provide," WO2 A said.
"I was Damien Tomlinson's
CSM in 2009 at the time when he
lost his legs. He's an inspiration the
way he's bounced back and helped
the Commando Trust.
"I've known most of the 12 sol-
diers 2 Cdo Regt and the Incident
Response Regiment have lost in
"All 12 were fantastic men,
highly skilled commandos and IRR
WO2 A said although the money
he raised for the trust through the
event was still being tallied, he
believed he exceeded the $3000 he
raised last year.
• For more information and to donate to
the Commando Trust visit
• To find out more about the Canberra Sri
Chinmoy Triple Triathlon visit
Still running: WO2 A
runs through a park in
Canberra during one of
the run legs of the triple
triathlon. At this stage
of the event he had
been competing for nine
Photos by Sgt Andrew
Quiet moment: WO2 A reflects on his efforts in the triple triathlon and the loss of his mates.
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