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SPIT POLISHED PRESENTATIONS
ONE of Air Force's bright-
est young triathletes had
been looking forward to
competing in the tri-service
in Cairns on June 3.
Not just for enjoyment either (if
you can call a 1.9 km swim, 90km
bike ride and 21km run enjoyable).
LACW Grace MacPherson had
planned the race to be a vital rung in
her build-up to the Hawaii Ironman on
That's not to be. Instead, LACW
Macpherson, a reservist with 381
Expeditionary Combat Support
Squadron at RAAF Base Williamtown
and a fourth-year law student at the
University of Newcastle, will be stay-
ing home to sit for a 3½-hour exam on
"I start exams on the Monday
straight after the race on the Sunday,"
she said. "I tried to gain permission to
change it but I couldn't so I just had to
give Cairns a miss."
Although she is disappointed,
LACW MacPherson presses onwards
She probably has no choice. If
she ever stopped to consider her busy
schedule, she might get paralysed by
the daunting nature of it all.
Last year she completed a degree
This year she is doing five sub-
jects; each semester for her bachelor
of law degree and one additional
course for a diploma of legal practice.
The diploma requires her to do
100 hours of practical work during the
semester at a law firm or community
On top of this, law students are
expected to study for two hours for
every hour face to face and her current
university timetable involves 26 hours
face to face a week. Do the maths.
LACW MacPherson's life became
a whole lot busier, too, in December
when she won the women's 20-24 age
group at the Asian Pacific 70.3 half-
ironman in Phuket, Thailand.
The win carried with it qualifica-
tion for the world's peak distance tri-
TEN Air Force athletes will contest the Australian
Defence Sports Triathlon ironman and half-iron-
man championships in Cairns on June 3.
They will be joined by 25 Army and five Navy
The triathlon will be held as part of the
Challenge Cairns Festival and will draw contest-
ants from across the country.
The two events, which will be run concur-
rently, are the ironman (3.8km swim, 180km bike,
42.1km run) and the half-ironman (1.9km swim,
90km bike, 21km run).
The athletes will have to be ready early because
the race starts at 6.30am when everyone jumps off
the main pier in Cairns.
MacPherson will line
up in October for
the biggest triath-
lon of her life, John
athlon event, the ironman world cham-
pionships, aka the Hawaii Ironman.
The Hawaiian Ironman -- 3.8 swim,
180km bike ride and 42km run (it
doesn't resort to the half distance; it's
the full monty or nothing) -- will be
between 1800 athletes from all over
the world competing under an intense
LACW MacPherson, a former
Australian Defence Sports Association
women's long-course and ironman
champion, certainly is not grumbling
about the increased workload.
In fact, it was one of her goals for
this year. Her plan was to win qualifi-
cation by winning her age group at the
New Zealand ironman triathlon cham-
pionships on March 3 and she did not
even know Phuket was a qualifier until
she won it.
She went to Lake Taupo for the
Kiwi titles anyway and, for good
measure, won another place for
Hawaii (alas, she only got in the half
ironman because foul weather caused
the full ironman to be cancelled).
"It was nice to say no and then the
second placed female in the 18-24 age
got to take the spot and gets to race
the world championships too," she
Sitting this one out
LACW MacPherson will be joined
in the Hawaii Ironman by her mother
Leanne, who won the 50-54 age divi-
sion at the Port Macquarie ironman
triathlon on May 6.
"She got me into running when
I was about 10 and we used to run
together every day. Then I got into
triathlon and a year later she did too.
But she got into long-course racing
before I did. Port Macquarie was her
sixth ironman-distance race and she
has raced many half-ironman distance
Mother and daughter train together
at weekends but LACW MacPherson
trains with a squad in Newcastle
during the week. Leanne lives in
Singleton with LACW MacPherson's
father and brother.
"She has watched every race I have
been since I started, except Thailand,
and recently we have been doing all of
the same races."
Missing the ADF titles in Cairns
is a bit of a training setback, but it is
not insurmountable for such a single-
minded and talented person.
"I will be looking for another race
to compete in before Hawaii. It is a
little bit hard because it is out of sea-
son over winter, so I may just end up
putting a solid block of training in and
not worrying about another race."
LACW MacPherson and her mother
will arrive in Hawaii 11 days before the
race and by that time will be tapering off
in training. Time to relax a bit and smell
the hibiscus for a change.
LACW MacPherson has never
been to Hawaii before but she has
heard the weather can be hot and
unpredictable. Windy one day, perfect
the next. "Fingers crossed."
LACW MacPherson, pictured le
Australian Defence Sports Tritathlon colours in
Phuket, could not be accused of taking it easy at
She is riding three times a week, totalling about
240km, running three times a week for a total of
50km and doing three swim sessions each week.
Once July arrives, the training will become more
Here is what's ahead of her.
Monday: rest day.
Tuesday: Swim set in morning (roughly 5km),
run track session in afternoon (totalling 12km)
Wednesday: Ride in morning (hill repetition and
sprint work), swim technique session in after-
Thursday: Run in morning (longer intervals
and aerobic threshold work), swim in afternoon
(5km - sets vary).
Friday: Bike/run brick session in morning,
afternoon off. (For those of us not familiar with
the term 'brick sessions', it's nothing to do with
carrying lots of heavy bricks. It's techno talk for
transitioning as quickly as possible from the
bike to the run -- just like triathletes have to do
Saturday: Long training ride (LACW
MacPherson says she will go from 120km up to
200km depending on how intense the week has
been) with a run off the bike of roughly 40min,
swim recovery in afternoon.
Sunday: Long run (between two and 3½ hours
as she builds the training volume up).
'[My mum] got
me into run-
ning when I
was about 10
and we used
to run together
eft and above in
Others bound for Cairns
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