The Southbank Triathlon Club (SBTC) was born five years ago after three mates competed at the Mooloolaba triathlon. Triathlon was booming at the time and as a result the club quickly grew to almost 400 members becoming one of the biggest clubs in Australia. Pretty impressive considering the boys had hopes of 20 or 30 members in total when they began.
We spoke with current Club President Sonya who gave us an insight into the passion and the ethos of the club. Sonya wrote the below paragraph shortly after being elected president.
I have been with the club for just over two years now, after completing my first enticer at Bribie in late 2012. My husband Ward is an avid cyclist (and sometimes triathlete), and my daughters are swimmers, water-polo and hockey players (with the occasional triathlon). I wanted to be part of what they loved, to join in rather than just be an observer, and be a good role-model for my children. However, as a middle-aged, unfit, mother-of-two it seemed insurmountable to me to be able to do even one leg of a triathlon. So, to be able to complete an enticer, then a sprint, then my first Olympic distance last year, was a really big thing for me. What was perhaps even more life-changing was discovering a love of early morning training and addiction to exercise endorphins' the beauty of sunrises from mountaintops after climbing them on a bike or on foot; and how gorgeous the Brisbane River is at all times of the day, as the sun and the city lights reflect on the water. I often say that joining SBTC taught me to love my adopted city.
There is something very special about sport and our club: the sense of volunteerism, the irrelevance of age or background, the generously given advice and encouragement, and shared joy from seeing a friend achieve what they thought was impossible. I love the excitement we all get when our club mates complete their first race (no matter what distance), a PB, a podium, or that day when we were all watching our phones to see Mark Rutter come over the Ultraman finish line. The cheers from competitors and supporters are a great example of that. The support of being part of the "SBTC family" is a pretty wonderful thing.
Tell us a little bit about the club, Sonya.
Three mates had just competed in the Mooloolaba triathlon and had the idea of starting up their own triathlon club. The boys had hoped to get 20 or so members on board, so they were in total shock as the numbers kept growing and quickly reached 400.
The model is different to other clubs and organisations, it is very much volunteer based. People don't get paid in their roles and we are a not for profit club. Any money that the club does earn goes straight back into running it and is used for things like trailers, tents, BBQs, etc... . Some of the coaches will be paid a nominal fee because they are accredited coaches, but the majority of our sessions are free and open to all members.
There are 10 committee members that are all volunteers and passionate about the club. Most of our meetings take place at someone's house, purely to keep costs down. Although its not all bad - the club secretary does make a mean lasagne.
We use a low cost model that was created to meet people's needs. For people who want to be involved with a club but either can't cover the costs of intensive coaching or don't want to commit their entire lives to it, this is a great option. It means they can train with like minded people and enjoy the social side of the sport. After all our slogan is "Swim Ride Run Party"
What are some big events for the club throughout the year?
We are lucky enough to be able to race all year round. A lot of members aim for different things at different times of the year whether that be cycling, running or triathlon. We just had the Sunshine Coast 70.3 which was a huge event. SBTC had about 70 people competing as well as many more who went to support. We won third place in the triclub podium at the event. We definitely would have won first place if there was an award for supporters.
Another two big events are the Mooloolaba and Noosa triathlons. A lot of people will target these events as they progress from short course to long course. We have just started running a six week beginner program. They are all so enthusiastic, and we are looking forward to them competing in their first sprint race, then hopefully enter a big festival event like Mooloolaba. We have weekend training camps leading up to Mooloolaba and Noosa and some of the long course events. We have Ash Gentle coming to help out again at our next one in October.
We are lucky to have lots of events in South East Queensland to choose from in addition to the big two. We have great turnouts at the TQ club champs, Sunny Coast Ironman festival, Straddie Salute, and the Gatorade and Bribie Island events. The big events bring people from all over the world, which is pretty exciting. For the major club events we have physios from Body Leadership on site for post-race massages. Club members get together and do other events like trail running, ocean swimming and cycle challenge races. There was a big club trip to Hawaii and then Cairns last year, and a bunch of us are travelling down to Geelong for the 70.3 in February after someone put a post on Facebook about it. We embrace anything really. Whatever people are interested in, the club will assist anyway it can.
The SBTC family get so much excitement out of a team mate achieving something they thought impossible. A new member recently completed a duathlon after having a really tough time with her health. She had done 20 Port Mac Ironman events and was coming back from surgery. She was having trouble finishing the event so the whole SBTC crew walked with her and cheered her across the line.
What does a typical week at the club look like?
Most of our sessions are free and have some... interesting names (Sonya says with a chuckle). We have Tempo Tuesday which involves some harder running, Work Hard Wednesday which is on the bike and involves crit racing or hills and then Funky Friday which is a group ride followed by a well deserved brekkie at Cowch. There are swim sessions in the mornings and evenings at Somerville Pool. Members can choose whichever sessions they want to come along to, and add their own cross training as they wish. We have weekend long rides to different parts of Brisbane. Our current favourite destination is Brookfield where there are quiet roads with undulating hills, gorgeous scenery and an excellent general store for breakfast.
Planet Cycles also have a regular Saturday morning ride which a lot of clubs members will go to. On the first Saturday of every month Planet Cycles will organise a ride for beginners and have ride leaders along to help. In October they have a women's ride month and a whole series of things to help women get into cycling. Confidence courses, maintenance workshops, transition training and some advice from some big name Queensland triathletes. It's great for the club as a large portion of our members are female and new to the sport.
What are the goals of the club moving forward?
As always we focus on being inclusive and enjoying what we do. Hopefully the beginner program continues to grow and more people can enjoy everything being apart of the SBTC family has to offer. I have made terrific friends and had amazing experiences I would have missed out on had I not joined the club and started competing in triathlons. I would love for other people to have those experiences as well.