Unfit to Fit and Beyond

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Our community is full of stories about transformed lives thanks to triathlon. Gavin Borg from Bathurst NSW Australia is working towards doing his first ironman in 2021, the 10th year since he first wanted to be an ironman.

“I know it’s taken a while with hurdles over the years, but I believe my journey has now only just begun,” he says.

As a youngster he was involved in a lot of sports and got quite good at swimming, winning school and regional events. He also moved into motocross where again he became quite competitive. Then like so many turning 18 he found partying, pubs, and alcohol. After high school, he stopped sports completely.

Eight years on he had ballooned to 115kg. Hungover one Sunday morning, he came across a rerun of the Ironman World Championship, one which coincidentally Chris McCormack had won.

“Something inside me stirred; I wanted to do that. The next day I pulled my $200 mountain bike out of the shed and went for a ride. I think I made it a couple of blocks before turning home disgusted in how unfit I was. But I stuck with it, jumping back in the pool (which again disgusted me from being school swimming champion to now unable to make 50 meters) and even started running (something I always hated).”

He got active, lost over 20kg of weight, and started doing adventure races — even winning a Kathmandu adventure round with a friend.

Just as he was about to embark on doing the local triathlon series, he was offered a Fly In Fly Out role as an electrician in a Western Australia mine.

“I would leave home for 4 weeks and come home for one week living in a mining camp whilst away. I still thought I would train and keep myself in shape, and I did for a few months and then I just stopped. I don’t really know why; I think I’d met new mates and long days on site meant it was easier and more relaxing to go to the wet mess for a few beers instead.”

His weight yoyo-ed over the next six years as he went through bouts of inactivity and motivation to train. At his largest, he was just under 133kg, drinking a bottle of whisky a night. He says, “I would lose my breath bending down to tie my work boots in the morning; it was a dark time.”

However, he did find the love of his life during this time, and changed his life. He quit FIFO work and moved back home to spend more time with his fiancee and get married.

“In January 2019 I did the swim portion as part of a team in the local tri series. I was slow, I was out of breath (it was 250m) but I was hooked once again,” Gavin reveals. “The next month I competed again in the local series but this time as an individual. Training was going well and I was actually really enjoying running which is something I never really did, and so I signed up for a local half marathon trail race.”

Unfortunately, during the race with six kilometers left to go he snapped his ankle ligaments during a creek crossing. He still finished, but had to stop training to recover.

He did put on some weight again, but found it in himself to train for and race the end-of-year tri series, which he loved. Riding that momentum, he signed up for Ironman 70.3 Port Macquarie and Ironman 70.3 Western Sydney in 2020. Then those races were deferred due to COVID-19.

But he had been through this before. When he started putting together some consistent training through the second half of last year, he dropped over 20kg in 12 weeks.

As racing has returned to Australia, Gavin has steadily been ticking off events. He reveals, “I did Husky [Huskisson Triathlon] standard distance a few weeks ago. My times were pretty good and if I went in the Clydesdale category (>100kgs) I would have won both events, but I opted for age group (dammit!).”

He will race his deferred slot at Ironman 70.3 Port Macquarie in May and will build into his first ironman in Busselton in December. Looking beyond those, he has a few more goals to check off. “I would love to represent Australia as an age grouper. I would love to qualify for 70.3 worlds, I would love to qualify for Kona, hell, I want to get that black T-shirt at Norseman.” Challenge Roth is another race on his bucket list.

“I may never get any of the above but above all else I want to see how far I can really go for me. What can I achieve when I put my mind to it? I want my wife to be proud of me, and I want to be a good role model for my future kids and not be that guy who would lose his breath tying his bloody shoelaces.”


Together We Rise

The Pho3nix Foundation assists and inspires children worldwide to achieve their dreams and live healthy, inspired lives through sport.

From kids triathlons and workshops to teen sports camps and assistance for aspiring Olympians, Pho3nix projects create a pathway from participation to professionalism. Pho3nix Club memberships and donations support every step on that pathway.