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'we'll beat any price'
By Cpl Melanie Schinkel
MONSOONAL rain, tower-
ing hills and even a wasp's sting
wasn't enough to stop one iron-
woman from winning her age cat-
egory and qualifying to compete in
the Ironman World Championships
After success at the Asian-Pacific
70.3 Half Ironman Championships
in Phuket, Thailand, late last
year, Brisbane-based reservist Sgt
Penelope Holland, 40, 9FSB, is set-
ting her sights on preparing for the
Ironman World Championships in
Kailua-Kona, Hawaii on October 13.
"I'm pretty sure I will be doing
a lot of kilometres on my bike
throughout winter to prepare for
Kona. My training regime won't
alter too much. I will train 15 to 20
hours a week and then build up the
intensity to 30 hours as the event
gets closer," Sgt Holland said.
"At the moment I'm preparing
for Ironman New Zealand, which
will be held in Taupo on March 3.
After that I will take a break for
three weeks before ramping up
training for Challenge Cairns in
May and then Kona in October."
A full-time student studying a
Bachelor of Health Science and
Nutrition, Sgt Holland began com-
peting in triathlons three years ago
with her husband, WO2 Rodney
Since then Sgt Holland has
become a dedicated member of the
Australian Defence Sports Triathlon
Association (ADSTA). She repre-
sented the ADF in the Challenge
Cairns and Phuket triathlons last
Sgt Holland said she was unsure
of her position when she crossed the
finish line after 5hr 03min 26sec in
"When I ran past the announcer
said 'This is Penelope Holland from
Brisbane. She's 40 and she's going
to Kona'. I was confused because I
wasn't turning 40 for another two
days and he had just announced
to everyone that I qualified for the
Ironman World Championships,"
"I approached the announcer and
told him he was mistaken before
heading off to cool down. When I
got back to my hotel room it was
confirmed that I had won the 40-44
age female category and qualified to
compete in Hawaii -- I was ecstatic.
"Since starting to compete in
triathlons it has been my dream to
compete in the world champion-
ships, but that's all it was -- a dream.
"I never actually thought I would
be good enough to compete in it,
so I was absolutely stoked when I
AS THE interservice surfing competi-
tion draws nearer, the focus of the
Army Surf Riders Association (ASRA)
turns to recruiting and preparing surf-
ers for the tournament.
WO2 Martin Fisher, 17CSSB, said
while they had a good turnup to a training
camp late last year, it was time to rev up.
"We will be focusing on the monthly
meets in each chapter and increasing
the numbers who turn up at these, WO2
He said while the waves left a lot to
be desired, about 20 of the more expe-
rienced surfers attended the inaugural
ASRA training and development camp
held at Port Macquarie from November
7-11 last year.
The camp aimed to help riders get
ready for this year's interservice surf
competition to be held after Easter.
WO2 Fisher said the surfers from
across the nation brought with them not
only a love of salt water, but also a bevy
of boards to train on.
"We attracted about eight newcom-
ers but we are really keen to get novices
involved in our sport," he said.
"We are trying to break the military
stigma about surfing and prove it is an
activity that develops health and fitness
both physically and mentally.
"It also incorporates stand up pad-
dling, body boarding, kite surfing and
basically any sport related to wave rid-
After an initial test of skills at the
training camp, there was committed
group participation and enthusiasm as the
participants trained for short board, long
board and stand up paddle (SUP) board
"Special guests Dan Wilson, from
Gordon and Smith Australia, and Woogie
Marsh, an outstanding professional SUP
rider for Coreban gave valuable insight
into preparation and tactics for the com-
petition event," WO2 Fisher said.
Early in the week, dedicated local Spr
Peter Couchman, ALTC, found a beach
with optimal conditions for the first dawn
"Dan and Woogie joined in provid-
ing training on long board surfing and
Woogie offering SUP skill development
training in the water to participants."
Later that afternoon, ASRA members
had an opportunity to discover the finer
points of riding the newest event in com-
petition, SUP boards in flat water. SUP
was introduced as a competitive event last
year and will be incorporated in upcom-
Breath efficiency training, surf riding
skills and SUP techniques were other
sessions conducted during the camp cul-
minating in races in SUP, long and short
Cpl Gav Castro, 3RAR, finished first
in both the short and long board competi-
tions in small and sloppy conditions. Cpl
Cam Anderson, 1 Fd Regt, was second
in the short board and third in the long
board comp. Pte Chad Hicks, 102 Fd
Wks, took out second in the long board
and third in the short board competitions.
The SUP competition was a spir-
ited event displaying many unorthodox
moves, with race organiser Capt Jack
Plimmer, 19 CE Wks, taking the honours.
ASRA membership is open to ARA and Ares mem-
bers and surf riders are encouraged to compete
in the interservice competition. For more informa-
tion on how to enter or get involved in surfing
contact ASRA president Maj Matthew Carr at
email@example.com. Link up with
surfers area on the ASRA Facebook group page.
on the horizon
February 18-19 -- Huskisson, Defence sprint and
April 15 -- Sydney, Defence National Olympic
Distance Triathlon Championships (part of Dextro
Olympic Distance Race).
June 3 -- Cairns, Defence National Half Ironman
Distance Championships and Defence National
Ironman Distance Championships, which will
both be held at the Challenge Cairns Festival.
The ADSTA is growing in numbers and developing a strong
team across all ages and skill levels. For more information
visit the association's website on www.adsta.asn.au or
email its committee on firstname.lastname@example.org
Sgt Penelope Holland prepares for Hawaii
realised my dream was coming true."
Sgt Holland wasn't the only
successful competitor waving the
Army flag in Phuket. WO2 Gavin
Wickham, Army School of Health,
completed the triathlon in an impres-
sive 4:42:25 earning him 12th place
in the 40-44 age male category, and
Capt John Green, Army Aviation
Systems Branch, took third place in
the ADF team in a time of 4:50:59.
LAC Grace MacPherson took
out the 20-24 female age category
in 5:39:09, almost 33min behind Sgt
Holland. She too qualified for the
Sgt Holland said it was an ardu-
ous race that presented many chal-
lenges for the competitors. "To say
that the hills in Phuket are tough is a
"I think the peaks topped out at
22 per cent and the humidity was
about 95 per cent -- it was a very dif-
"Monsoonal rain drenched us
during the 90km ride, which slowed
me down because of the lack of trac-
tion on the road.
"I was also stung on the face by
a wasp. My face started to swell up
and I just told myself 'Don't lose
focus now -- stop if you start to have
breathing problems', but I was okay."
"From there I entered the run. I'd
been working hard on my running
and managed to push myself to hold a
steady pace for the whole 21km.
"It was a great competition
because the atmosphere was amaz-
ing and the ADSTA team were really
Sgt Holland continued her
good form, finishing second in her
age group in the Hell of the West
Triathlon in Goondawindi on
February 5, completing the 2km
swim, 80km bike ride and 20km run
Time is right to start
catching waves with
Pounding pavement: Sgt Penelope Holland takes on the running leg
of the Half Ironman Championships in Phuket, Thailand, to qualify for
the World Championships in October.
Photo by finisherpix.com
Riding waves: Capt Jack Plimmer, 19 CE Wks, competes in the long board
event at the Army Surf Riders Association training camp last year.
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