We run, swim, ski paddle and board paddle – if I’m not competing, I’m at training. If I’m not training, I’m doing uni work. And if I’m doing none of the above… than that means I’m probably taking some time out to finally watch some Netflix and chill out!

At all times, the training is brutal based on our disciplines; I’m not sure if our training hours are a lot more than any other sport, but it’s definitely more than some.

We have training every morning and afternoon, while chucking in gym and running sessions throughout the day.

We could train up to 5 hours a day easy and we’re training six days a week as well.

It’s hard to make a living out of our sport, you can but it’s difficult. A lot of us are balancing full or part times jobs alongside full time training. It’s not easy doing what we do.

Lizzie Welborn exclusive insight 4

I’m currently balancing training and Uni, studying Environmental Science. And it is difficult, especially because I’m one of those people who want to try and put the best into everything that I do.

A lot of people always ask “why do you do it?”, and I’m sure the other athletes get asked this as well. They ask it like it would be a difficult question to answer, but it’s very simple. We love it.

I love the community, the opportunities, the friendships and the memories it brings. It is a very rewarding sport, even if you’re not doing it professionally and just doing it for fun, it’s still so rewarding.

Most of us have been doing this sport since we were really young, starting as Nippers, I’ve been doing it since then.

Lizzie Welborn exclusive insight 4

Throughout my years being a nipper and competing professionally, I have made friendships up and down the Australian coast that I will probably never lose.

This community that is generated in our sport keeps me going. Being able to see all my friends at training motivates me to go. Travelling with them to different carnivals makes it so much fun.

Being able to see all my friends from around the coast at these carnivals makes me excited to race.

North Bondi is my surf club. I’ll be down there even if I’m not training, hanging around out the front of the club in the sun, tanning and surfing with my mates. This isn’t just me either, all the old dogs are always there too.

You get to hang around with everyone from different generations and hear their stories. At the end of the day, we’re one big family. Not just our surf club, but the whole sport.

I would say I’ve only been in the sport a short time and it’s given me so much already.

It’s allowed me to travel to some amazing places, not just in Australia, but around the world. It has given me the opportunity to compete in some other incredible races outside of our sport, such as the Molokai 2 Oahu, which is an endurance paddle board race in Hawaii.

There have been people from our sport who have gone to the Olympics for kayaking and swimming, it can branch off into anything you want.

One of the greatest things this sport has given me is a deeper passion for protecting our oceans. Since I can remember I’ve always cared for our environment. Becoming an Ironwoman has placed the issue of plastic pollution very deep in my heart as it’s tied to my love of sport and the ocean.

It all started once I became super dedicated to my training and spent every afternoon training at the beach.

Many of us see rubbish on the beach and don’t think twice about it. We’re so used to seeing it.

One day when I was down at training something clicked in my head, and I really noticed how much rubbish was on the beach. It became something I couldn’t unsee. I was horrified, disgusted and heart broken.

Lizzie Welborn exclusive insight 4

I started to pick up all these pieces of rubbish, as many pieces as I could see. I remember walking up with handfuls of rubbish, all my teammates giggled as I was trying to carry my ski and my board and all this rubbish that I’d found on the beach. It became something that I did every day.

This rubbish is destroying our oceans. Not just for the creatures that live in it, but for us too.

I got in contact with the non-profit organisation Take 3 for the Sea. Their motto is that every time you go to the beach or a waterway you pick up three pieces of rubbish and put it in the bin.

If everyone did it, then our beaches would be a million times cleaner. Since being in contact with them, I’ve kept on branching off and connecting with other organisations, helping them spread their support for protecting our oceans.

It’s funny because I always bang on about it, and now I’ve had a lot of family and friends come up to me and be like ‘the other day I went shopping and I bought all my groceries and they put it all in a plastic bag.

I thought of you and said no, so I carried it all out the car in my hands’.

It’s stories like that, that make me happy. Unless people have a reason to think about it, they are never going to change their plastic habits, or realise the impact it has. You need something or someone there to motivate you not to use it.  

This awareness is what really needs to grow. It takes time for everyone to create new habits..

For example, I never used to think twice about straws, they used to come in my drink and it’s like I almost wouldn’t even see it because it was just a normal part of life.

Now, I would never buy a plastic bottle, drinking straw or takeaway cup. I forgot my water bottle now, I would rather go the whole day without drinking any water than buy a plastic bottle.

There is already heaps of small changes happening, you see more people walking around the streets with keep cups and more cafes selling paper straws, I think we’re on the right track.

I want to spread his awareness to people with the goal of them having a ‘click moment’, just like how it happened to me.  

To finish things off, all those hours spent training for this sport, including being at the pool at 5am, freezing on the beach in a howling southerly or being so sore I can hardly walk.

It has all been worth it. I love it, and I won’t be stopping any time soon.