Penny Slater FOHER Co Professional Triathlete. The real deal.

April 12, 2021 5 min read

Penny Slater FOHER Co Professional Triathlete. The real deal.

At the end of 2020 we asked our Pro Penny Slater to share her thoughts on the year that was. And for some reason we held off posting her blog. Perhaps deep down we knew there would be a better moment. And we think this is it. On Sunday 11th April 2021, at Challenge Shepparton, Penny showed everyone what we have known from the moment we met her at the back end of 2017. That she is one hella gutsy, down to earth, uber hard working athlete with an amazing mindset and 'never give up' attitude. She will full send it right to the bittersweet end. And her hard work is paying off with a most excellently played runner up behind winner Ellie Salthouse at Challenge Shep. We could not be prouder, and we reckon Penny is just getting started. Here were her thoughts leading into 2021:

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Well what a strange year 2020 was and not at all how I envisioned it. The lovely ladies at FOHER Co asked me to put my thoughts down on how the year had affected me as a professional athlete.

Many of the FOHER Fam know that I initially started my elite career on the Xterra off road circuit. At the end of 2019, I decided to make the switch to racing long course, which I did not make lightly. Lots of people always asked me why I made the switch. The reality is to make money as a professional triathlete you need to attract sponsors and keep them, the hype and exposure that comes with IRONMAN and long course racing is the biggest in the sport. Not only that, I am physiologically suited to long course as I am a bit of a diesel engine, not exceptionally fast but I can keep going for a long time! 

Pic: Penny started her elite career in off road triathlon with dual World Under 23 and Australian cross triathlon champion titles to her name.

Well, 2020 started off tumultuously with the bushfires in Canberra close by to where I live which meant I had to relocate to Wollongong for all of January so that I could train without risking smoke inhalation. This was my first real introduction to long course training, and it was HARD, getting used to the sheer volume of training 30-ish hours a week was certainly a shock to the system. The plan was to train through my first block of racing with Geelong 70.3, Oceania Cross champs and Mooloolaba Standard. This would mean that I would have a solid 5 months of training before some key races later in the year. 

Pic: Pen racing IRONMAN Geelong 70.3 in 2020, coming home in 6th position.

Then as we all know COVID hit. At first, I was holding onto hope that things would settle down and I would still be able to go overseas and race in Asia. Pretty much a downhill slide from there.

At the beginning I was devastated, this was supposed to be my year, the year I solidified myself as a true long course professional triathlete and hopefully attracted greater financial sponsorship.  Many people think that racing as a pro means we get offered sponsorship all the time or that when we ask for sponsorships brands take us on. This certainly is not the case, getting sponsorships is hard these days there is so much emphasis put on social media and the exposure you can give a brand. Of course, one of the key ways to attract sponsors and keep current sponsors is to race and do well. So, with races down the toilet it meant almost a whole year of no exposure at races and no media attention = no more new sponsors. I am extremely grateful to my amazing sponsors who have stuck by me this year despite the struggles. 

I was extremely lucky that I had made the decision to move back in with my parents in February so that I could focus on training and racing without the added financial pressure of having to pay rent and buy my own groceries (yes I eat a lot! Sorry Mum and Dad!). 

I am also not one to dwell, so once I got over the initial reaction of feeling sorry for myself, I refocused and managed those things I could control. I trained hard, finished my university degree and worked on my coaching business Peakmultisport which I had been dreaming of setting up for a few years.

Every time I became frustrated with the situation, I reminded myself I am lucky. Lucky to live in Australia, lucky to have a supportive family, lucky I have freedom and lucky I get the opportunity to be an athlete. There are so many people in the world who are not privileged like me and have had to struggle just to stay alive and put food on the table this year. 

Pic: Pen shredding up MooTri in 2020.

Focusing on reflection, gratitude and what I can change in that moment, whether it be in training or everyday life has been a key lesson learnt this year. Switching a negative thought into a positive thought. My new mantra when things get tough has been:

‘This isn’t going away, so how can I make it better?’. 

Those simple words have made a world of difference to my mindset and being able to continually show up every day.

Funnily enough, just as I started practising mindset strategies, racing began to return. I wasn’t at what I thought would be my best run fitness, but I ran a PB in a half marathon, 5km and 3km. Every step of the way I used that positive mindset. Then I had arguably one of my best performances to date at the Canberra Sri Chinmoy Triple Tri in November. Three off road tris back to back; all up 6.5km swimming, 100 km mountain biking, 42km trail running and over 4000m elevation gain. The feeling I had in this race was something I had never experienced. I felt so confident the whole day, there was never a moment I thought that I wasn’t going to make it, I kept it positive and enjoyed every moment. Resulting in an 11-hour race coming in 1hr under the previous female course record and 15 minutes off the male course record. 

Pic: Penny Slater claims the new womens record at the Canberra Sri Chinmoy Triple Tri in November 2020 

Thanks for those of you that made it this far. Through the ups and downs of 2020 I’ve learnt a lot about myself and what I am capable of. Personal growth is something that should never be taken for granted. 

‘Success is where preparation meets opportunity’ So work hard, be prepared and success will come. 

Thank you so much to everyone in the FOHER Fam . It’s been amazing to see everyone still achieving and kicking goals this year despite everything. 

Pen x


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