Married Brisbane ophthalmologists Dr Katherine Smallcombe and Brian Corff are set to compete together at Kona for the first time this October, defying the qualifying odds for the world’s most challenging single-day sporting event.
The amateur triathletes qualified for the Ironman World Championships after placing first and third in their respective age groups at the Asia-Pacific Championship in Cairns earlier this year.
When it comes to juggling their passion for fitness with careers and family, the couple say for them it’s about living in the moment, supporting each other, communication and prioritising the important things in life
Dr Smallcombe and Mr Corff, who own a practice and have two small children, play Tetris with their busy schedules to fit 15 hours of training into their weekly routine – often training before dawn or at night after the kids are in bed.
With mere weeks to go before the big race in Hawaii, Dr Smallcombe said the pair have a jam-packed schedule lined up to ensure they are in peak condition.
“It’s surreal to have both qualified for Kona. For me, this has been the pinnacle since I was at school and watching the competition on TV. Not only that, we get to set a positive example for our children when it comes to living a healthy lifestyle and I think that’s really important,” said Dr Smallcombe.
No strangers to fitness, the pair met while riding mountain bikes across Tibet to Mt Everest almost a decade ago and have since competed in more than forty triathlons between them.
When it comes to juggling their passion for fitness with careers and family, the couple say for them it’s about living in the moment, supporting each other, communication and prioritising the important things in life.
“Cairns Ironman was a big decision for our family. We had to think to ourselves ‘can we fit in all this training with the kids and the business’? And we agreed early on that if things started to get off kilter then we’d recognise that and pull out of the competition,” said Dr Smallcombe.
“The family always comes first, but you find ways to make it all work. Motivation is the key and it becomes a lot easier knowing we’re both in it together. Seeing the other person getting up and training each morning is such a motivation.”
With more than 80,000 athletes competing for the chance to qualify for the illustrious event, Mr Corff said the pair had no expectation of winning but had built up their Ironman fitness for their own personal health and wellbeing.
“After starting KindSIGHT, we found the harder we worked the more we needed an outlet. Training balances out the stress from our day, gives us more energy and we gravitate towards eating better. Nobody ever comes back from doing exercise wishing they hadn’t done it,” he said.
For Mr Corff, his advice for those considering training for an Ironman is to plan ahead but don’t over-think it.
“The schedule I get from my coach: I don’t think about it, I just do it. I don’t assign an emotion to it, I just get in and get it done. Otherwise it becomes too easy to make excuses.”
The Ironman World Championships is held in Kona, Hawaii on 12 October, 2019. More than 2,000 athletes will embark on a 226-kilometre journey hailed the ultimate test of body, mind and spirit.