(Posted - 12 Jun 2007)
There may be others; however there can't be many familes with a pedigree in endurance sports to match the Southwell’s of Alexandra Headland on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast.
From elder statesman and "legend" of Ironman Triathlon - Bob - right down to the grand children Kirra & Ruby, the Southwell’s take family participation to the next level.
Let’s take the Anaconda Adventure Race weekend at Tugun as an example, lining up for this year’s events see:
Tony – Tony started in Surf Lifesaving in 1977 and moved on to Triathlons in 1981. Tony’s first taste of 4 discipline racing came in the form of quadrathlon, where he placed 1st at Gosford (85-86), 1st at Coffs Harbour (85 & 87) and 1st at the Grafton quadrathlon way back in 1985.
Tony’s triathlon career has been long and chequered; the highlights being 7th in first Australian Tri Champs in 1986 (and 9th in 1987) and 12th overall at Forster Ironman 1992, to the lows of coming nearly last there in 2000. However Tony is now back on track with a recent 2nd in the 45-49 division at the age group World Long Distance Champs 2006 in Canberra.
In his tri career Tony has trained and raced with the best of them including 1994 Ironman world champion Greg Welch. Tony will be competing at Tugun in the solo category and is sure to show the young guys a thing or two.
His reason for joining the wave of athletes taking up adventure racing?
"I'm a bit bored with Triathlon at the moment. It used to be a bit more of an 'Adventure' years ago with challenging courses and distances. But the sport has started to appeal to the masses and changed. All the tough races from years ago are long gone. I have an adventurous spirit so I need more of a challenge than running around a street block 4 times. To steal a line from JFK ... I feel we should 'Do these things not because they are easy, but because they are hard !' "
For Tony the most enjoyable part of training for the Anaconda Adventure Race has been having another discipline to train for. “I raced K1's years ago, so paddling again is great fun. Although I've had to get some new blades, my old wooden one from 1979 just doesn't do the same job as the new ones."
Leanne – wife and mother of "Team Southwell" is not to be outdone either ... Leanne began her triathlon career 23 years ago winning the Noosa Junior Girls Tri. From there she graduated to racing the boys in Surf Ironman enduro races and long distance running to feed her sports hunger.
Leanne capped off this years tri season by placing 2nd (pro) in the Australian Half Ironman Series, Wining her age group at the World Long Distance Triathlon Championships, and finishing 9th (pro) at the Australian Ironman championships in Pt Macquarie.
Leanne hates to miss out, so with the rest of the family taking up Adventure Racing she decided the new challenge was for her as well. For Leanne the greatest reward she has gained from training for the event is the ability for the whole family to train together, although mum still holds her breath when son Ben flies down the MTB descents with his "no fear" teenage attitude.
Ben (13 yrs) is also juiced up on the same family racing fuel. Ben’s thirst for racing will see him compete in both the Junior Survivor and the main Anaconda Race as part of a team; he’s yet to decide whether he is going to do just one leg, or possibly both the 2XU ocean swim and mountain bike legs.
And to round out the weekend’s family frolic we have Junior Survivors Kirra & Ruby, who will be showing mum & dad a glimpse of the future of the Southwell’s racing dynasty.
Not forgetting the Southwell patriarch Bob - although a respected and capable athlete in his own right, Bob’s been relegated to the role of minder for the weekend, looking after 2 year old grandchild Charlie, a job we're sure he will cherish. However we wouldn't be surprised if Charlie lines up for the 2008 Junior Survivor Challenge freeing up Bob up to race as well !
The story, however doesn’t end at Tugun on August 5th … The Southwell’s are going to back up their Adventure Racing weekend by shipping the family lock stock and barrel - this time with Tony’s two brothers in tow - to their old “IM" stomping ground of Forster.
We can assure the Southwell’s that they’ll see Forster in a whole new light; her turquoise waters, her white sands and her beautiful bush lands when they tackle the two day event in September.