Training for triathlon a triumph

Published on Ms Dallas McMaugh (author), Unknown (photographer)

Location(s): Coolangatta, Queensland

Topic(s): Triathlon

Leading Seaman Electronics Technician Chad Poland about to cross the line during the Coolangatta Gold triathlon (photo: Unknown)
Leading Seaman Electronics Technician Chad Poland about to cross the line during the Coolangatta Gold triathlon

Leading Seaman Electronics Technician Chad Poland has completed the gruelling Coolangatta Gold triathlon, originally won by Queensland legend Grant Kenny and made famous by the film of the same name.

First held in 1984, the triathlon has evolved into one of the most famous surf sports events in the world and is regarded by many as the ultimate achievement in physical and mental toughness.

The event attracts everyone from elite athletes to those who are looking to accomplish a challenge. Leading Seaman Poland of the Royal Australian Navy Tactical and Electronic Warfare Support unit devoted much of his spare time during the cold winter months preparing for what he considered an iconic event.

“I’ve been involved in the sports side of Surf Life Saving for many years and have followed the race my whole life,” he said.

“I had always wanted to give it a crack but it took me until 2014 to have my first attempt. I finished third in my age group with a time of just over five hours. While I was happy to finish the race, I really wanted to see how I could perform with a different game plan.”

Leading Seaman Poland was deployed to the Middle East in 2015 so had to wait two years to have another attempt at the Gold.

‘For the 2016 event I was lucky enough to have the training program of a former professional Ironman which really helped, especially with the long hours of ski paddling.” 

Leading Seaman Poland’s intensive 16 week training regime included swimming, ski paddling, and board and running sessions several times a week. The hard work paid off when he exceeded his expectations, completing the gruelling course in 4 hours 40 minutes and coming in first in his age group.

“Having a different game plan of sitting with a pack in the ski event really helped to improve my overall time and when it came to the board paddle I completed the course half an hour quicker than my previous attempt in 2014,” Leading Seaman Poland said. 

“Every leg had its challenges but the final run leg always worried me. The last thing you want to happen after more than four hours of racing is for someone to pass you in the seven kilometre run.

“I was so stoked when I found out my board paddle time but when I heard my overall time I was in shock.” 

Leading Seaman Poland is not about to put his feet up and already has his next goal in sight. 

“This season, I really want to compete at NSW Country, NSW State and the Australian Surf Life Saving Championships.

“As for the Coolangatta Gold, before the race this year I was pretty sure it was going to be my last one. But I can’t help thinking it would be nice to take another 20 minutes off my time.”