Tarleton tackles new challenge

AGE is only a number. Just ask triathlete 64-year-old Judy Tarleton.

On Saturday, February 1, Tarleton completed her first Olympic distance (1.5km swim, 40km bike, 10km run) triathlon in the Elite Energy event, after just a year of training.

Tarleton started running for fitness just after her 51st birthday. She progressed onto half-marathons before making the decision to tackle a full 42km marathon.

"After doing a few half-marathons it got to the point where I was thinking, well what's next?" Tarleton said.

"The obvious choice was full marathons, so I started my training."

Tarleton trained for her first full marathon on her own, before linking with triathlete Dan Benton. 

While in training for her fifth marathon, Benton suggested making the jump to triathlon.

"People have told me training by myself, and finishing it at my age was pretty inspiring for them," she said of the marathon.

"Dan and I were using the pool, and water exercises as recovery, just running up and down the pool mainly, but it progressed into swimming. It was a new challenge, several new challenges actually.

"It just goes to show you can do anything you set your mind to, no matter what your age."

By her own admission, when Tarleton begun her training she "hadn't swum since being a teenager" and was "terrified of getting out and riding on the road".

"It was a struggle to begin with, to get used to the movements again," she said.

"And riding on the road was quite daunting, I struggled to even get on and off the bike. It was slow progress, improvement-wise. I was very nervous every time I was on the road on the bike. I'd stop at every intersection and go quite slow really. I did have a couple of close shaves with some drivers too, who just didn't see me.

"I still struggle with the swims a bit, especially in the open water. But I find swimming to be an incredible release, and quite soothing for any aches and pains."

As she continued her training, Tarleton naturally progressed to longer distances until the Olympic distance seemed the next logical step.

"It wasn't a goal so much, but I guess it was in the back of my head," she said.

"That day it became a reality. I train with Dan and his group, they're just all so encouraging, and we're all different ages and abilities, that's part of the reason I love doing it."

Tarleton now trains with Benton up to six times a week, at varying intensities and will continue doing triathlons around the central west.

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