Cairns Ironman 2017-Profiling the local competitors

Read what the locals have to say

Read the Bio’s of the following local Cairns athletes who have been involved in the Cairns Ironman-Asia-Pacific championship event.

Interesting, inspirational and honest.

Terri Sullivan     

Terri Sullivan

Age: 52

Race Experience: Not a whole lot. A few races in my late 20’s then nothing for 20 years while I was having kids.

I decided in the year I was turning 50 that I wanted to get back in to triathlon so I signed up for the six week beginner course for the Tri de Femme in 2015.

I managed the Yungaburra Tri, and the bike leg of the 70.3 last year.

This year: With thoughts of doing the cycle and run leg in 2017, I started training early and thought if I could overcome my open water fear I’d do the full individual. An Achilles injury that just wouldn’t go away ended that idea and I’ve been kindly offered the cycle leg again for a Fit360 team this year.

I’ll be cycling for a team at the Sunshine Coast 70.3 in Sept. Cycling is my passion and I’d like to improve my road racing skills. Triathlon has so many inspirational men and women who support each other in every way. I would like to think I inspire other women of any age or fitness to step out of their comfort zone and realise their potential. I am just about to start training with a new Tri coach in July so who knows what 2018 will bring.

I’m proud to be a Cycling Mums Australia Ambassador this year.


 Laura Whenmouth

Laura Whenmouth

Age: 32

Race Experience: 7 x Ironman, 10 x 70.3, IMCairns is my 8th Ironman. I raced IM World Champs in Hawaii last year injured, and this year has been about building strength and stability.

I’m also focused a bit more on coaching this year, and have a number of athletes who will be competing in their first 70.3 or Ironman.

I get a buzz from helping people to achieve something they didn’t think they could.


Susan Crowe

Susan Crowe

Age: 46

Race Experience: I have been competing in Triathlon for over 10 years and in that time have completed many Olympic Distance events, around 20 Half Ironman and Long Distance Triathlons and 8 Ironman Events.

I have also done many long distance adventure races, one of them being a 5 day stage race in Abu Dhabi, several Ultra marathons and marathons.

At the moment I am having a break from competing after having done the Cairns Ironman last year and then the Ironman World Championship in Kona last October. Although I have had a lot of success and various titles over the years I still believe that the journey is the most important part of the whole process. Training can be a strain in many ways, especially when you have busy children and work……there never seems to be enough hours in the day, so it is important to enjoy what you are doing.

The race is only a small part of it and can very easily not be what you would like it to be.

It has been important for me to have had a couple of breaks over the last few years so that I am reminded of what I love about the racing journey. I am going to enjoy watching all the amazing athletes competing this weekend and be inspired as much from those doing it for the first time as I am from the professionals who dedicate their life to the sport.


Tynan Narywonczyk

Tynan Narywonczyk

Age: 33

Race Experience: I have competed in 11 Ironman events over the last 10 years and will be knocking out number 12 in December in WA.

My story this year involves chasing other dreams. Becoming a Dad for the first time and also working on bringing value to people’s lives in the suicide prevention space through my lived experiences.

I’m speaking in Brisbane at a Gala dinner the night before IM Cairns and that’s the reason I’m not in it this time around.

Although I’m glad, as it would have been super hard training, with work, being a dad and supporting Helena.

Rohan Pratt

Rohan Pratt

My Story: I got into cycling after an horrendous car crash 14 years ago that smashed my knee caps in half. Cycling helped to rebuild my muscles and was low impact. About 5 years ago I was talking with Tynan and he said “Ironman”. I thought about it, and simply said “Sure. I’ll give it a go.” I’d already done the 180km cycle leg in a previous team Ironman, however the thought of actually crossing the finish line appealed to me.

So I trained hard and found that my doggles-who came with me, enjoyed training half marathons a lot more than me. I finished my first Ironman in my best time yet. Since then, I’ve used Ironman as a forced means to get fit again since I get podgy very easily.

Last year was a disastrous year for me for many reasons, culminating in my Ryo-Ohki doggle dying of cancer. By the end of the year I was 100kg. Once I got back into the training for Ironman I started to feel better. I wish I’d started training sooner since I’ll be racing pretty heavy on this, my final year of Ironman. This year’s target is just to finish on the same day I started!

Lesa Hansen

Lesa Hansen

Age: 48

Race Experience: I have been doing triathlons on and off for the last 24 years. Whether it was to compete, or be Bruce’s bag bitch, I was involved.

I have done the full 70.3 4 times, have been part of many teams, and done plenty of Olympic distances. I have also done marathons, multi-sport events and my biggest love is the open water swims.

I’m not doing the 70.3 this year as I have just had jaw surgery to open up my airways and complete a cleft palette repair from when I was young.

I can now breathe so much better.

My main plan for the rest of the year is the 9km open water swim in Canberra. Plans for 2018 are Cairns 70.3 then Sunshine Coast 70.3 for my 50th-there is no better way to celebrate getting old!

What I love about this sport is the stress release you get. The reward you get from training and racing is awesome and most of all the friendships you have and of course the coffee. Cheers Flipper

Tom Gersekowski2

Tom Gersekowski

Age: 24

Race Experience: This will be my 7th Ironman, and I have done 9 half distance races. I’ve been doing triathlon since 2011 and racing competitively with structured coaching for the last 18 months. I placed 1st in my age group last year in the CairnsIM and came 3rd at Port Macquarie in 2016 and 2017. I qualified for and finished Kona World Champs last year.

My story: Nothing special. I’m training this year to ‘better my best’ and see what I can get out of myself both mentally and physically. Obviously I would love to win and defend my title but the main goal is to finally have the race that I know I am capable of and the result may take care of itself. I’ve approached this again with nothing special, just consistent quality training and continual liaison with my coach to challenge me.

This year I want to get the best out of myself and perform how I know I can.

Andrew Cook

Andrew Cook

Age: 39  

Race Experience: I started out doing the swim leg in a team with my Big Cat Cruises workmates in the Coral Coast.

After this the Ironman juggernaut came to town. The first year it was here I watched on as a spectator. I was in awe at the fitness of the competitors and that day decided the next year I would participate. The next 2 years I did the swim leg of the 70.3 as a team, again with workmates. The following year I did the whole 70.3 myself.

This year will be my 4th consecutive year doing the 70.3 Cairns solo.

2017 has seen me battle a few injuries in my preparation for the race. I had some pain in my right heel which made running difficult and a sore left shoulder which made my swimming limited also.

The past 2 months I have started to feel good and I managed to get a solid block of training for the race. I’m fortunate that I have the pleasure of training with some very inspiring athletes and friends-which makes the early mornings bearable….most of the time?!

About 2 weeks ago I discovered that my race bike had a crack in the carbon fork. Unfortunately, this is not able to be repaired in time for the race. Fortunately, I have an old road bike that I can use next week.

For me, I feel that the journey of training with your friends and getting the body into shape so that you can do your best on the day, outweighs the actual race. The race is just the icing on the cake, to show off the hard, yet fun work you put into getting there.

Sarah Thomas

Sarah Thomas

Age: 33

Long Course Racing Experience: Ironman 70.3 Cairns 2014, 2015, 2016, placing 3rd in age group in 2016;

Ironman 70.3 Sunshine Coast 2014, 2015.

Ironman World Championships Sunshine Coast 2016. Ironman New Zealand, 2017-placing 3rd in age-group.

Story this year: Attempting my first full Ironman in Cairns and hoping to back up a solid performance in New Zealand at my first ever full distance Ironman 3 months ago.

Luke Raffles

Luke Raffles

Age: 36

Race Experience: I’ve completed 3 Triathlons; Lake Eacham Sprint 2016, Cairns 70.3 2016 and Mooloolaba Standard 2017.

In January 2016, I decided it was time to get off my butt and be a bit more active. I’d started doing 3-5km runs 1-2 times a week for a few months and wanted to really challenge myself.

I’d never run very far before, certainly not more than 10km in one go, never ridden a road bike and it had been years since I last swam, so I thought I’d do it properly and join a Tri squad with coaching. I decided on the Team Carling Triathlon Squad, after signing up for the 2016 Cairns 70.3. I wasn’t sure I would be doing more triathlons, and the budget was a little tight so I started with a basic bike and decided just to stick with runners rather than cleats.

It was a steep learning curve on everything from triathlon to fitness and learning about myself, but after pushing through the first 2 months of the training plan and starting to see some gains, I was beginning to enjoy getting out early. The 2016 70.3 came quickly and I loved every second of it- What an incredible day.

I was now totally hooked (and exhausted). Endurance triathlon was turning out to be something that really pushed me and tested my limits, which I liked. The next day I registered for IM 2017 and started thinking about the next year of training with the Carling Squad. Since then, I’ve invested in a bike to hopefully last me the next few years, some cleats, and a good bike fit. Despite the hours, most days I look forward to the planned sessions and I certainly enjoy the lasting feeling afterwards.

Now all of a sudden, the day I’ve been looking towards for almost a year is here. Yes I’m nervous, but I am looking forward to the challenge ahead and hopefully many more into the future.

Jamie-Lee Hannigan

Jamie-Lee Hannigan

Age: 25

Race Experience: Before participating in the Ironman 70.3 Cairns last year, I had never ridden a road bike or had much experience in swimming. I was into running a little but generally I wasn’t a super athletic person.

I started triathlon in Jan ’16 after my boyfriend bought me a tri watch for Christmas because I was looking for a new sport to focus on.

As I had no triathlon experience, I decided to join Team Carling Tri Squad, as a few friends had recommended it. As it turns out, I really loved triathlon and competing in local events. I met so many wonderful people and really surprised myself with what I could achieve. Competing in the 70.3 was so much fun. Painful, but fun. It is a beautiful course with a great atmosphere.

This year I have decided to compete in a relay team with two other female radiographers who are incredible athletes! I will be doing the cycle and can’t wait to race the course again! I haven’t committed to as much training as last year, so I hope I don’t let the girls down!

2017-04-30 07.48.52

Nicole Martin

Age: 44

Race Experience: As a child, I lived in country Victoria so I was restricted to a few sports as a result of limited opportunities.

Basketball, Netball, Little athletics and Cross country running were my bread and butter. Coming first and breaking the school age-group Hurdles record on a sporting trip to Melbourne as a country girl, in a pair of fat old sneakers –and NOT spikes like the others, is my proudest sporting moment.

Whilst at University in Melbourne a few friends and I entered the ‘JUST TRI IT’ series held around Port Phillip Bay.

This was my first exposure to Triathlon, be it on a hacked up old mountain bike and swimming in arctic water temperatures without a wet-suit.

I then met my ‘GUN’ triathlete husband Michael who’d had multiple successful races and podium finishes under his belt as a teenager, and quickly decided watching him was much more exciting than racing myself. Together we ran in many fun runs but didn’t do a whole lot more until we moved to Cairns when I immediately joined a masters swimming club-The Sea Eagles. Michael and I competed in a few Masters swimming carnivals, and after almost dying after each race, I decided to stick to open water and running events.

I competed in the Great Pyramid Race in 2010 and 2013 coming 4th in my age-group and 6th overall (2013). A few Enticer and Sprint Tri’s followed, several open water swimming events, and I completed a standard (1.5/40/10) in Port Douglas.

2107 marks my 7th entry into the Cairns Ironman event in some capacity. I have done the swim in a team every year since it came to Cairns, being lucky enough to make the podium twice for the female teams over that time (2nd and 3rd) with some brilliantly talented female athletes.

In 2016, I did the swim and the cycle in the Cairns 70.3, and watched from the sidelines as my runner crossed the line.

It’s 2017, and I am doing the whole thing myself this time because to be honest…I really, really, want that towel.




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