Monthly Archives: March 2018

What drives para-triathlon champion Kerryn Harvey?

Following on from her very personal and inspiring blog we thought we’d throw a few questions at She Science Ambassador Kerryn Harvey and let you know a bit more about this amazing para-triathlete and START Foundation founding director.

What keeps you going?   

‘’I am driven by the desire to keep pushing boundaries and seeing what I am capable of. I love training for races – the build up, the hard slog weeks, the self doubt that inevitably creeps in at some point and the ticking off the training sessions.

The sense of achievement and feeling of satisfaction and fulfilment upon completing a race is the reason I do it and it keeps me going until the next goal.’’

Jan post KerrynWhat have you done to change up your training routine that’s been helpful?

‘’In the past 12 months I have started training with others more often. I used to train solo 90% of the time but training with other like minded friends has made the sessions a lot more fun. It also keeps me accountable, and it’s great to be able to share our training and event ups and downs in a supportive environment. And of course there is often food at the end!’’

What do you think is your biggest challenge over the next 12 months?

‘’My biggest challenge is trying to achieve a number of really big sporting goals in a short time. Starting with a 3000km charity bike ride in May/June, then a Half Ironman in August, Para-triathlon World Championships in September, and then Full Ironman in December.

It will require a great deal of self management to conquer all these goals. I believe I can as I am confident I have a good, solid and sensible training strategy in place that will lead me to success.’’

181_3rd-2339536-DIGITAL_HIGHRES-1966_055616-13113253 (002)What are the three things your sport has brought to your life that you treasure most?

‘’Good health, lifelong friends and belief I can achieve anything.’’

What’s your go-to meal when you’re tired but famished?

‘’Poached eggs and smashed avo with a large, skinny, extra hot, hot chocolate.’’

Do you use tools such as visualisation, goal setting, meditation etc?

‘’I have some mantras I use regularly before and during a race. It might be about technique such as “short steps, fast cadence”, or it might be a motivational mantra such as “I believe I can so I will”.’’

How much time does your sport take up in a standard week?

‘’In a full week of training I will complete 3-4 runs, 3-4 cycle sessions, and 3 swims, plus some core strength work, and stretching and/or foam roller. It’s probably around 15 hours a week if you include any travel time. I am fortunate I am a spin instructor so 3 of my cycle sessions are spin classes. It’s nice to get paid to train!’’

Our She Science team is super excited to be following Kerryn this year as she strives to tackle some huge events one after the other. We absolutely wish her all the best!

Sometimes incredible opportunity comes following incredible adversity

With the Commonwealth Games upon us it’s a good time to embrace and celebrate the fantastic athletes who will be representing their nations with pride and honour. Donning a sports uniform in your country’s colours can and does make athletes feel 10 feet taller, 10 times stronger and 10 times faster.

How do I know this? I know because for the past three years I have been fortunate enough to represent Australia as an elite paratriathlete and race against the best paratriathletes in the world. It’s an absolute dream come true for me and I pinch myself every time I lay out my Australian uniform ready to race. And yes it definitely makes me feel 10 foot taller, 10 times stronger and 10 times faster every time I zip up my race suit.

0147_10923 (002)But this wasn’t always a dream of mine and once upon a time it would have been a far fetched and ridiculous idea to suggest I would ever have this amazing opportunity to represent my country in my favourite sport.  It was a mere five years ago I was competing as an age group triathlete, racing all distances from sprint (500m swim, 20km ride, 5km run), to full Ironman (3.8km swim, 180km ride, 42km run). I would usually finish somewhere in the top third of my age group, and now again on the podium, but never on the top step. I was fit and healthy and loved racing but it was never a dream or on my radar to compete at a higher level. And quite frankly I was just not good enough!

Kerryn Announcement image

Then in 2013 my life was turned upside down. I contracted a flesh eating bacteria following a bike accident and in a matter of hours I went from being a super fit, active, sportswoman, to being unconscious on life support, in multiple organ failure, and very close to death. The flesh eating bacteria destroyed my right arm and shoulder and amputation was the only option to save my life.

I spent a week on life support, three weeks in intensive care, three months in hospital and endured 11 surgeries before I was finally well enough to come home. The long journey of rehabilitation and recovery was really only just beginning. One thing I was sure of though: despite my new circumstances and learning to live as an upper limb amputee, I was determined to regain my fitness and dreamt of one day being able to participate in a triathlon again.

It took two years of relearning to swim, ride a bike, and run, all one armed, and rebuilding my fitness and confidence, before I finally made it to the start line of a sprint distance triathlon in Melbourne. I entered and competed in my usual age category. To say I was happy to be back participating in the sport I loved is a major understatement. It felt amazing and I was ecstatic.  I expected I would be last by quite a stretch as swimming was a struggle for me. Not only did I not finish last I managed to finish about midway in my age group.

IMG_2037 (002) IMG_2034 (002)It was then the new dream began. I started comparing my times to the best paratriathletes racing in my disability class. Was I good enough to race as an elite paratriathlete? Could I race for my country? My times were quite comparable it seemed. I contacted Triathlon Australia and was given the opportunity to compete in an upcoming paratriathlon race in Penrith, NSW. This would be just my second triathlon as an amputee. Well the rest as they say is history.

I was competitive enough to be invited to join the Australian Elite Paratriathlon Team and not long after I was presented with my first Green and Gold Australian Race Suit. Since then I have raced all over Australia and in two World Championships. The first was in Chicago in 2015 where I managed to win a silver medal, and then in Rotterdam in 2016 where I took out the bronze. Both were incredible experiences and memories I will cherish forever.

This year the World Championships are on the Gold Coast in September and I hope to be included in the team once again. No matter if I am or not, the last three years of racing for my country has been such an honour and a huge thrill.

Most importantly it has given me the drive and determination to get on with my life and be open to any new opportunities that come my way.  Because sometimes incredible opportunity comes following incredible adversity.

By Kerryn Harvey94_3rd-2350624-DIGITAL_HIGHRES-2002_041559-13901677 (002)

Kerryn has gone from learning to tackle life as an amputee to stepping on the podium at the World Para-Triathlon Championships, and is founding director of START Foundation. Kerryn’s committment to empowering amputees in life through sport is inspiring. Follow Kerryn via @startfoundation_aus or @captainkez