Three years ago Cyrma Hearn was tackling her first mini triathlon. This year she completed another incredible trifecta: taking on three World Championship races in a single season. We caught up with this inspiring age grouper to find out how she did it.
Australian Triathlete: When did you find out you had qualified for three World Championships? Did you consider pulling the pin on any of the races?
Cyrma Hearn: I found out I’d qualified for all three races in the last week of March. I’d just raced my first Ironman, the Asia Pacific Championship in Melbourne. My goal was to finish smiling. It was a wonderful day, great conditions, and I qualified for Kona. In February, I raced the Coles Bay100, won my division and qualified for the ITU Long Course World Championship in Spain. I also raced three Olympic Distance qualifiers this season and accumulated points for the Australian Team at the ITU Olympic Distance World Championship in New Zealand. To qualify for three World Championships in one year was
a unique and rare opportunity. Three great race distances, three awesome adventures!
AT: What distance is your passion? What do you think you’re most suited to?
CH: I had brilliant fun for two years racing Olympic Distance when I started in triathlon, winning the Australian National Series Title at the end of my first season and representing Australia in Budapest (2010) and Beijing (2011). I love the intensity, speed and adrenaline of short course racing, but the balance between physical endurance, pace, nutrition and mental strength in long course is fascinating. I’m not sure what I’m most suited to yet, probably a combo of speed and endurance, so Half Iron/70.3 distances.
AT: Was the Kona experience everything that you hoped for?
CH: Kona was more wonderful that I could have imagined. I arrived eight days early to acclimatise and the town was quiet and peaceful. By race week, Kona had transformed into a triathletes’ playground radiating an atmosphere of energy, determination, nerves, anticipation and excitement. There were 5000 volunteers and
tens of thousands of spectators who were all as energised and excited and positive as the athletes.
I saw my opportunity to race at Kona as a gift, and it was one of my most incredible life experiences. It wasn’t just about the race itself, it was the whole journey that it took to get there, the inspiring athletes and supporters I met, the moments of tremendous pride out on the course and the huge smile that formed as I ran the final miles towards and along Ali’i Drive to the finish line. It was incredibly challenging, humbling and empowering.
AT: What has been the toughest thing you’ve had to face this year in your training?
CH: I’m relatively new to the sport, only three years in, so training for major events and racing internationally is challenging and exciting. The toughest thing I faced was feeling vulnerable and a little overwhelmed at times. For a girl who had never learnt to ride a bike, I was a long way out of my comfort zone training through my first wet windy Melbourne winter and training at intensity in all disciplines well beyond anything I’d ever experienced. To challenge myself and overcome those uncertainties in training and in racing was so rewarding. I’ve learnt an enormous amount in the past few months, including that I’m capable
of so much more than I even imagined.
AT: What has been the key to your success?
CH: I race because it’s fun. I love standing on that start line, getting out there and just having a go. I don’t worry about what anyone else is doing. I love hard work, consistent training and solid racing. I listen to my body and I trust it – our bodies are very clever, talented things! My focus has always been to challenge myself to get the best from myself and I always enjoy it. I definitely had a very high ‘smile-count’ this race season!
AT: What sacrifices have you had to make?
CH: I love what I can do, it’s a wonderful lifestyle, so there aren’t any sacrifices (maybe I’m a bit short on sleep at times!) Life’s full of incredible opportunities. It’s not always a smooth path, and balancing training and racing with work, family, friends and other interests isn’t easy, but I love the challenge, the lifestyle, the balance and the experiences. I’m grateful to have been able to race all over the world and meet some of the most inspiring, positive, wonderful people. All the hard work is completely worth it.
AT: You’ve ticked more boxes in one year than most do in their career, so what’s next?
CH: Right now, I can’t imagine where my journey goes from here. I’ve only been back home a few days and haven’t quiet absorbed the whole adventure yet. I never dreamed my first Ironman would lead me to Kona. Then again, I never dreamed that within three years of my first mini-tri I would have travelled the world racing in incredible beautiful locations, doing a sport that I love. I’d like to keep evolving and developing as an athlete and to keep racing – it’s a brilliant way to explore the world. To race at Kona, especially so early in my Ironman journey was an incredible gift and something I will always treasure. Who knows what exciting adventures will unfold from here?
AT: How hard has travel been in trying to race at your best? Any tips? You’re a pro at it now!
CH: Travelling is great fun and it helps to keep everything simple. I always take my race eve and race day nutrition with me, just in case I can’t find what I need overseas. Do a bit of research before you leave home – locations of bike shops, supermarkets, training venues, so it’s easy to get around after you arrive. When leaving Oz, check your bike all the way through to your final destination (much easier and cheaper to negotiate from here than from an international port). Travel light. Pack essential race gear and a post-race dress of course, but think about what else you really need – then halve it.
AT: Any final words for our readers?
CH: I’ve learnt that the only limits we have in life are the ones that we put on ourselves. Opportunities are all around us – we just have to be open enough to see them and then have courage enough to do something with them. I never dreamed I’d achieve so much in this
sport, but I’ve always been open and ready for the adventure. I heard a great saying a
few months ago, ‘The difference between impossible and possible lies in your determination’. Extraordinary things really are possible for all of us, so get out there and go for it.