#FitFam: meet the family taking on triathlons together

#FitFam: meet the family taking on triathlons together

Triathlons are a family affair for the Saunders'. Ariel Conant meets siblings Brendan, Jade and Sienna, who see swim-bike-run as a way to have fun

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Jade and Brendan Saunders, age 13, and their mum Christina Hudson (centre) are a family of triathletes.
Photo: Christina Hudson

Twins Brendan and Jade Saunders did not have a traditional birthday this year. Instead of the usual cake and presents, they did something a bit different - they competed in a triathlon race.

Hong Kong's New World International Triathlon 2015 happened to fall right on the twins' 13th birthday on November 8. Brendan and Jade joined almost 400 athletes for the race, which involved swimming, biking and running. But they didn't do it alone.

Triathlons are a family affair for the Saunders, and the pair are often joined by nine-year-old sister Sienna, their mother Christina Hudson, and their helper Mayleen Caniedo.

(From left) Mayleen Caniedo, Brendan, Jade and Sienna celebrate finishing
Photo: Christina Hudson

The three Saunders siblings - who attend The ISF Academy - did their first triathlon together. Jade and Brendan were eight years old for their first race, and Sienna was five.

"I only learned to properly ride a bicycle the day before, but I wanted to join my siblings," Sienna admitted.

"My brother and sister ran beside me to the finish line and then they gave me a huge cookie when I finished, so it was worth it!"

Working together as a family is what keeps the siblings going. "Training with my family is motivating," says Jade. "It's fun and competitive."

"Our mum pushes us to our limits," says Brendan. "I'm also competitive with my twin sister. We keep each other moving!"

Jade agrees: "My brother and I motivate each other to go faster and train harder as we are extremely competitive," she says.

"Sometimes it's a challenge training with a brother, especially a twin," she admits, adding "They always want to outdo you! It's just the way they are."

"We always compare each of our times with each other after the race," says Brendan. "Of course my time is always faster."

And while she's younger, Sienna also gets into the competitive spirit. "My brother likes to tease me lots!" says Sienna.

"It's hard to keep up," she admits. "They're bigger than me!"

"I don't feel competitive against my sister yet, as she still is a lot younger," says Jade. "We're pretty good at being each other's cheerleaders though."

Underneath the competition, that cheerleading and encouraging support is what makes training fun for the family, even when it gets tough.

"Competing in a triathlon or aquathlon [running and swimming only] isn't easy," says Jade, and Brendan agrees. "You feel fast and strong, but you really push yourself to the limit."

The pair agree fatigue can be tough to overcome. "My least favourite part of racing is starting the run after a long swim and bike," Jade says.

"This is when your legs start to scream and you feel like your whole body is aching. The biggest challenge is keeping a good pace and finishing the run when my body is telling me to stop.

Fatigue and fierce rivalry aren't fun, but the Saunders say the good far outweighs the bad when it comes to racing. "I like the swim because open water doesn't scare me and I can do well," says Sienna. "Biking is fun. I talk to myself on the bike, sometimes I even sing!"

"I feel strong and fit when I race," says Brendan. "It's an indescribable physical feeling that can only be understood by doing it yourself."

This article appeared in the Young Post print edition as
Next-level sibling rivalry

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