We’re gearing up for the exciting 2024 World Triathlon Multisport Championships in Townsville, where over 200 Kiwi athletes are getting ready to compete across 19 World Championship races.

Led by Age Group Experience Manager, Mel Saltiel, team Tri NZ will be participating in a variety of events including Sprint and Standard Duathlon, Cross Triathlon and Cross Duathlon, Aquathlon, Long Distance Triathlon, and Aquabike.

One of the 200 athletes making the miles to Australia and wearing the silver fern is Emma Gribben, who first dipped her toes into triathlon through a Try-A-Tri event. Emma’s triathlon journey officially began in 2017 at the Canterbury PAK’nSAVE Triathlon, initially as a trial run for the Challenge Wanaka Half. Since then, she’s gone on and competed in the 2018 ITU World Triathlon Age-Group Championships in the Gold Coast. We caught up with the Canterbury Triathlon club member to hear more about her journey to the spotlight.

Emma Gribben, 35 - 39 Age Group Athlete

Competing at the 2018 ITU World Triathlon Age-Group Championships Gold Coast must have been a great experience. When did Triathlon first start for you?

“Other than a couple of Tri a Triathlon events I did when I was a kid in the 90s, my first Triathlon was the Canterbury PaknSav Triathlon in 2017 as a test run for Challenge Wanaka Half.

I had only been running up until then and was getting a bit bored of that, so my coach added Swimming and Cycling into my programme for X-training and suggested giving Triathlon a go.

I ended up 3rd Place in my Age Group at the  PAK’nSAVE Tri; I was generally useless at sport growing up so was absolutely stoked to win a medal; Triathlon has had me hooked ever since and I’ve added a few more age group medals since”

Having raced in a number of Triathlon events now, what’s one highlight of your triathlon journey so far that stands out to you and one favourite race?

“Completing my first Ironman (IMNZ December 2022) was my highlight. After the March 2022 race was postponed due to Covid, training through winter months, preserving through injuries, and the weather bomb that exploded on the day, I had the time of my life!”

Favourite race “Challenge Wanaka; the Aquabike in particular. The course can be brutal, but it’s worth it for the views”.

What’s the ‘day job’ for you, and how does that fit with your training and racing goals?

“I’m a Business Development Manager in Commercial Insurance for NZI Insurance (IAG) client placement facility with Aon. Our team works in our local Aon office.

We’re currently in our busy time of year (March – July/August) so I can have some long days when I add in my training, along with undertaking a photography course.

I’m lucky that IAG has embraced flexible working and are a really supportive workplace when it comes to anyone who has sporting endeavors. I work from home for an afternoon once a week so I can fit in the gym or a Zwift session at lunch time (on the day I have my photography course in the evenings).”

You have been selected to represent Triathlon New Zealand at the 2024 World Triathlon Multisport Championships, how did you feel when you got told you were going to represent the team?

“Really happy; I’ve had a few years of chronic injuries that I’m still trying to manage, so being able to continue to perform at a high enough level (even when I’m still a long way off where I know I can perform) and finish with times to qualify for the Age-Group team is awesome.”

You have been part of the Age Group team in 2018 in Gold Coast, what’s your top tip for those who are new to Age-Group triathlon?

“I have 3

  • #1 Focus on what you can do and don’t compare yourself to others; you don’t need all the flashy equipment to start; I started on a steel alloy bike frame (it was great strength training)!
  • #2 Get in touch with your local Tri club; especially if you don’t have a coach, your club and its members are a wealth of knowledge and experience so don’t be afraid to reach out and ask questions.
  • #3 Have fun!”

You mentioned you work with a coach and you are also a member of Canterbury Triathlon club, is there anyone who has inspired you to pursue triathlon? Are there athletes you admire and think, “Wow, you’re amazing”?

“I pursue it myself for the challenges the sport bring and the friends I have made. A couple of athletes come to mind who I think are amazing being Laura Siddal and Fiona Gallagher; I met Laura at my first Challenge Wanaka in 2018 and I’ve got to know Fiona over the last few years through The Cupcake Cartel Triathlon team and have really enjoyed seeing her go from Age Group to Professional; they’re both truly inspiring going through their own journeys with injuries in the last year or two and not giving up”.

As you gear up for the World Championships, could you share a valuable lesson or piece of wisdom you’ve gained from your journey in triathlon?

“Training is by far the hardest part of any triathlon journey. It’s all worth it come race day when you get to show all of your hard work off. Oh and don’t try anything new on race day! New shoes, new tri suit, new nutrition – leave them at home. Stick to what you have used in training leading into your event”.

For more information on the World Triathlon Multisport Championships Townsville visit here.

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