Triathlon Training All at Sea for Navy Trio

6 December 2018

A three-woman Royal New Zealand Navy (RNZN) team will compete in the Taupo half-ironman on Saturday, having juggled their training while at sea on the HMNZS Canterbury.

The team is among about 15 New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) personnel who will be competing in the inaugural Inter-Service triathlon, in which New Zealand Army, RNZN and Royal New Zealand Air Force personnel compete against each other under the umbrella of the Taupo event.

The half-ironman comprises a 1.9km swim, 90km bike ride and 21km run.

Lieutenant Commander Andy Mahoney, who is organising the Inter-Service competition, said triathlon had a huge following within the NZDF.

“It takes a significant amount of training, dedication and personal expense to commit to this sport, where you have to train in at least three disciplines,” he said. “Triathletes in the NZDF do this around our already busy military lives and also balanced against commitments to friends and family.”

That dedication to training can prove even more challenging if your job involves being on a ship, as the RNZN team of Leading Logistics Supply Specialist Michelle Peat, Lieutenant Commander Fiona Jameson and Petty Officer Military Police Nicole Mattsen are finding.

They are all posted to HMNZS Canterbury, which has been at sea for the past seven weeks. They’ll be back on dry land less than 24 hours before they compete.

“It’s less than ideal,” Petty Officer Mattsen said. “We actually get alongside at Devonport on Friday at 10am and Michelle and I will literally be walking down the brow, jumping in the car and driving to Taupo.”

“We’re in Taupo that afternoon, the race is the next morning and we’ve got our ship’s ball that night. As soon we finish the race, we’re all jumping in the car and driving straight back to Auckland.”

Petty Officer Mattsen, who grew up in the Hawke’s Bay, said all three team members had had to improvise with their training. Leading Logistics Supply Specialist Peat, who is doing the swimming leg, was perhaps the most disadvantaged because, despite being surrounded by water, she could do swimming training only when the ship was in port. To compensate she has completed daily circuits run by the ship’s physical training instructor.

Petty Officer Mattsen, who will do the run, has substituted running with rowing and gym work, while Lieutenant Commander Jameson has used a spin bike.

Petty Officer Mattsen does about five half-marathons a year and most recently completed the Auckland Marathon, in October, while Leading Logistics Supply Specialist Peat, who is from Bay of Plenty, has a swimming background.

Petty Officer Mattsen said it seemed like a cool idea to represent the ship and was not too concerned about the outcome.

“I haven’t been too stressed out about it – it will be what it will be.

“Michelle has never done a swim this big but she took on the challenge to see if she could do it.”

Lieutenant Commander Jameson, formerly of Northland, had done a lot of biking in the past but between having two young children, being second-in-command of the Canterbury and recovering from a back injury, she would be relying on base fitness to get her through, Petty Officer Mattsen said.

“She’ll get the 90km done. It’ll be a bit painful in some respects but she’ll get the job done.”

And then, for the trio, it will be off to the ball.

This page was last reviewed on 7 February 2019.