Is Ironman more important this year than ever?
Around the world events and races have dropped off social calendars at a hastening pace amid global coronavirus concerns and to those that have spent months in training this can be disheartening to say the least.
However, in the face of what has engulfed the norm of our livelihoods, something to look forward to may be just what the doctor ordered. Even more so when the effort to get there fortifies one’s sense of community as well as strengthens their physical and mental wellbeing.
Port Douglas local and seasoned IRONMAN 70.3 competitor Jo Van Ewyk who will be tackling her fifth race this Sunday said it was important to have this goal to keep motivated with her physical and mental health during COVID.
“To have IRONMAN here this year when so many have been canceled is remarkable for the wellbeing of so many people in our community.
“I know a lot of people who were stood down from their jobs and used IRONMAN as a way to keep inspired – training made them feel better physically and emotionally.
“In a year when there has been so much out of the ordinary, exercise is important. This got them out of the house and producing a lot of those feel-good endorphins,” she said.
The training sessions have been an anchor, something that can be somewhat controlled in the midst of this unknown territory. The kilometre's have given a positive focus in the craziness. Each session is an achievement, a chance to create memories, learn lessons and grow as a community.
Jo said the community around triathlons in Port Douglas is amazing.
“We are a group of friends who are very welcoming to anyone who wants to try, we get up early to train before work, then catch up over a coffee.
“Port Douglas is the ideal spot for it, we can swim, ride and run all outside – you don’t have to go to a gym,” she said.
What’s incredible about triathlons, and IRONMAN, is that you see all abilities and ages competing. Jo admits that she never thought that this was ever for her when she started.
“Not my thing at all, until I did a 5-k fun run – I joined a running group and was hooked.”
Through the events at The Great Barrier Reef Marathon Festival she kept upping the ante on her distances from the 10-k, 21-k to the full marathon. Then she saw the IRONMAN athletes ride through Port – that’s when she set her sights on that coveted goal.
“I found an amazing group of people who helped keep me motivated, people I still train with today,” she said.
“I wish all of the competitors good luck for Sunday. I highly recommend this for anyone to get involved in this awesome event next year.
“You can choose to do one leg, all three or to volunteer. It’s easy to catch the bug and want to keep returning and challenging yourself to new limits,” she said.
For Jo and so many in the community the event gets them more active, gives them a hope of competitive familiarity, a feeling of joy while keeping the mind and body healthy at a time when it is of the utmost importance to do so.
Could holding The Cairns Airport IRONMAN Cairns Asia Pacific Championship event be better during school holidays? Especially at a time when interstate and drive markets are more vital than ever.
Will this allow more time spent in the region for family vacations and discovering the Tropical North?
IRONMAN Australia Head of Operations Rebecca Van Pooss said we know the region has been hit hard tourism wise, we are really excited to bring the event to Cairns and the area to help make an economic impact.
"Whilst the event has been scaled down considerably with COVID we have seen that 97% of competitors are from Queensland and over 50% of them are visiting from outside the Far North.
"The triathlete community is so strong here it made sense to make this event happen, while showcasing that Queensland is good to go,” she said.
Like Jo Van Ewyk, IRONMAN is fully aware of the health benefits associated with an event like this, especially during a time when depression and anxiety levels are at a high.
Rebecca Von Pooss said athletes want that ability to race not only for their physical health but for their mental health and to keep that social aspect.
“With so much uncertainty on what to train for it is important to have an event to work towards, to keep some sense of normality,” she said.
Following the recently approved COVID Safe Event Plan, The Cairns Airport IRONMAN Cairns has seen a strong increase in new entrants, a sure sign that the community has been waiting for something like this.
To learn more and access downloadable maps and further information regarding all changes to traffic conditions visit: https://www.ironman.com/im703-cairns-course
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