Mild mannered research scientists and communication gurus by day, but at IRONMAN 70.3 Port Macquarie (6 May) when the lab coats get hung up and the triathlon gear goes on, Tracey Ellis, Dr Yow Keat Tham and Associate Professor Julie McMullen are hoping to transform themselves into the swim/ride/run juggernaut called ‘The Baker Trio’.
The team event at IRONMAN 70.3 Port Macquarie is a great bonding opportunity and a fun and popular way for athletes to get their first taste of IRONMAN racing and ‘The Baker Trio’ will debut alongside more than 100 other teams competing over the 1.9km swim/90km ride/21km run.
The Baker Trio is representing the Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute, one of Australia’s most established medical research institutes, who have recently been announced as the title partner for IRONMAN 70.3 Geelong for 2019-20. The unique partnership is aimed at promoting healthy lifestyles and part of a commitment to share evidence based scientific and health expertise, in areas such as sports cardiology, with the broader community, including IRONMAN and endurance groups.
Unofficial captain and swim leg ‘volunteer’ Tracey Ellis said her fledgling team has the necessary individual skills but they are keen to see how it comes together on race day.
“The decision to compete was a last minute thing, so none of us felt able to do the whole triathlon individually, so we decided to form a team this year. In truth, they couldn’t find anyone to do the swim leg,” she laughed. “So I decided to step up and push myself to see what I could achieve. I’ve always enjoyed pool swimming and I decided it was time to challenge myself in the form of ocean swimming. I also wanted to set an example for my nine-year-old daughter.”
“I’m doing 1.5-2km swims several times a week and a few gym sessions. I also did a few ocean swims in Melbourne earlier this year to get used to open water and wearing a wetsuit. But it’s very new territory for me. Healthy lifestyle is at the core of what we do at the Baker Institute and we are all looking forward to making our debut at Port Macquarie and immersing ourselves into the IRONMAN community,” she said.
In charge of the cycle leg is Dr Yow Keat Tham, currently working as a Research Officer in the Cardiac Hypertrophy laboratory under team mate Associate Professor Julie McMullen, looking the role lipids play in settings of cardiac health (such as in exercise, in athletes) and in cardiac disease (such as heart failure), and how we might harness the manipulation of lipids in treating heart failure.
Yow is a recent convert from badminton to running, then triathlon and his latest passion – cycling
“I started out playing a lot of badminton (almost daily) and in 2014 began running. After I finished my first 10k run I decided to attempt a sprint distance triathlon in January 2015. That was when I bought my first road bike. Since then I have continued running and cycling but gradually I fell more in love with cycling. You will usually find me either on beach road or on the hills near Eltham and during the summer months I will try to go away with my friends to hit the mountains up in Bright.”
Bringing the team home will be Associate Professor Julie McMullen, the head of a research laboratory interested in understanding differences between ‘good’ heart growth as occurs with exercise training, compared to ‘bad’ heart growth as occurs with heart disease.
“By understanding key differences, we aim to develop therapies for the failing heart based on the protective effects of exercise. I am also the Domain Head for Basic Science which oversees the research of 7-8 other research groups.”
“I have always enjoyed walking, hiking and running. When the Baker Institute signed up to be involved with the Melbourne marathon festival in 2014 I decided to train for my first marathon. I developed a passion for long distance running during that process.”
“I run 8-10km most days during the week and try to fit in a long run one day over the weekend (18-21km). I am hoping to finish under 1h 45min and I am really looking forward to enjoying the different scenery Port Macquarie has to offer,” Julie said.