Community and High performance triathlon come together when the High Performance centre in Cambridge opened its doors to top Age-group athletes this week.
Often the Elite environments are only seen by those within the High Performance fold, but the vision of Tri NZ HP Director Graeme Maw and Age Group Experience Manager Jen Gregory enabled a unique and thoroughly successful experience.
"Wow, what a day! ... Everyone thoroughly enjoyed it! Thank you to the whole of the Triathlon NZ High Performance team for a wonderful day!" - Samantha Owles on the 'Day in the Life of High Performance experience'.
Triathletes ranged in age from 23 to 72 years and were selected based on being 'Age Grouper of the Year' champions from their performances at the 2015/16 Sovereign Tri Series. These Champions were invited to the Triathlon NZ High Performance centre to experience 'A Day in the Life of High Performance', training alongside NZ's elite triathletes and coaches, led by Graeme Maw, and HP coaches Tim Brazier and Jul Clonen.
This is the first time that a High Performance centre has opened its doors to direct community involvement and shows just how much our elite athletes can inspire those at all levels in the sport.
The day was organised by Triathlon NZ's Age Group Experience Manager, Jen Gregory who saw this as an amazing opportunity for amateur athletes to really experience the elite athlete environment at a venue that is impressive and inspiring and not often open in this capacity to the public.
"I think that there was mutual benefit to both parties through organising this unique experience. The age-group athletes were able to live a day as an elite, and the elites were humbled and inspired by the fact these athletes train upwards of 15hrs per week while also juggling family and work".
Graeme Maw echoed these thoughts adding that it is "refreshing to see members of the community who are willing to travel across the country to Cambridge. Furthermore, it serves as a reminder to the high performance athletes of their role outside of competing- to aspire and encourage members in the community".
Joy Baker (female 65-69 champion) and Aaron Wood (male 40-44 champion) rose at 3.30am on the Tuesday morning to reach Cambridge in time for the 7am swim training session led by Tim Brazier.
"A unique and motivating experience, it was great having the opportunity to talk with the HP team and meet a great bunch of age groupers from around the country. [I] came away feeling super inspired." said Rebecca Speirs (Female 50-54 joint champion).
Mike Ramsay, (male 70-74 joint champion and longest competitor at Ironman NZ), noted that "Learning the layout of the Avantidrome, mixing and mingling with the Elite Triathletes, hearing their stories, along with a very good nutrition discussion were some of many highlights of the day". The Q&A session with Sophie Corbidge, an emerging talent in Triathlon, and the nutritional talk by High Performance Sport New Zealand Nutritionist Lillian Morton, were also key highlights.
Richelle Whittaker (female 40-45 champion) "Really enjoyed the day. It was nice for our Age Group achievements to be acknowledged by Tri NZ".
Malcom King (20-24 champion) later posted on social media that it was "Really good to gain an insight into how NZ's top triathletes live."
Triathlon NZ hope to repeat the experience for further years considering the day's success.