Penny Hosken: chasing her triathlon dream

WE TALK to Penny Hosken about the remarkable highs but also the tough lows of her triathlon career so far.

Penny Hosken

Penny Hosken started out in triathlon at the age of 17.

PENNY HOSKEN was inspired by the Noosa Triathlon when on holiday in Noosa as a child. The memories of that triathlon stayed with her and by 17 she had joined a triathlon club. At the end of university she employed a full-time coach and has since gone on to compete around the world.


Here she talks about about the remarkable highs but also the tough lows of her triathlon career so far.



When did you start out in triathlon and who inspired you to give the sport a go?


As a family we used to holiday in Noosa and as a young kid I thought that I would one day like to do the Noosa Triathlon. A friend, Eleisha Lilley, was on state school triathlon teams and she put me onto a GIT (Get Into Triathlon) program with Nunawading Triathlon Club which I did when I was 17. 


Penny Hosken

During her final year of university Penny decided it was time to find herself a coach.


At the time I did the GIT I was focussing on flatwater kayaking. Kayaking is a small sport in Australia so I thought it would be fun to do something different. I did a season of “mini” triathlons that year following the course and love them; the variation with three disciplines, the buzz at events and beachside racing. For the next few years I did the occasional mini and sprint triathlon but with no specific training of purpose, just for a bit of fun. Summer before my final year of university I decided to focus on triathlon and get a coach, Michael Pratt, and that is where triathlon really kicked off for me.


Had you always been a sporty person and if so what success have you had in other sports?


I was one of those kids who did as many sports as possible when I was young. Ballet, tennis lessons, gymnastics, hockey and swimming (Mum had a rule for my brother and I that if we didn’t go to swimming lessons then we weren’t allowed to go water-skiing on the weekends). I got chronic fatigue syndrome when I was 11 so I had to stop all sports. My brother started kayaking with school and my parents would take him to training and go along to the races so I started kayaking a bit as I preferred to be doing something as opposed to watching.  I couldn’t go back to gym or swimming at the level I used to as it was to physically demanding. 


Penny Hosken

Penny went to the ITU World Triathlon Championships in Auckland in 2012 and was the fastest Age Grouper over the sprint distance.


Eventually I got back to doing every sport at school and played A grade hockey for a local club. I then shifted my focus to flatwater kayaking and went to Youth Olympics (an amazing experience) and the World Marathon Flatwater Kayaking championships while in my final year of high school. After school, I took a year off and worked on an island in the Whitsundays as a kayak guide (best job ever!). When I came home and started university, I had lost the passion for paddling so playing hockey for my university and water-skied for fun over summer. But the occasional triathlon and open water swim brought my competitive side back.  


What have been your biggest triathlon triumphs and where in the world has the sport taken you? 


I went to the ITU World Triathlon Championships in Auckland in 2012 and was the fastest Age Grouper over the sprint distance. It took me 3 years of triathlon specific training to get to this level (largely getting my running competitive) and this result gave me the confidence that I could be a triathlete. That summer I won all the local elite Gatorade Triathlon races and raced some ITU Continental Sprint Cups. The jump in the intensity of racing was huge and I was struggling to keep up with the pace but I was loving the new

challenge. Unfortunately, my health broke down trying to compete at this level while going through vehicle launch as part of my full time engineering job at Holden.


Penny Hosken

Penny has had to fight back from health problems to restart her triathlon career.

It took me a few years to start to get my health right again. In the meantime, I took up mountain bike riding for fun. I could focus on the terrain and learning new skills rather than be frustrated because I was riding slower. This lead me to doing my first Xterra race in Anglesea in 2012. I finished 3rd female pro and I was hooked. I loved the variation off-road racing brought to training and racing. I went to the Xterra World Championships in Maui that year and it was one of the most scenic, challenging and fun events I have done.  


Triathlon has taken me to other amazing parts of the world. My first international race was Triathlon Noumea in New Caledonia. I have also been to France and competed in the Alp D’Huez Triathlon. It has also allowed me to travel more of Australia using racing as a reason to visit places I usually wouldn’t including Tasmania, Townsville and Magnetic Island, Canberra and Jervis Bay.


Penny Hosken

Penny has had to put most hard work into the running side of the sport.

In which discipline of triathlon do you have to work hardest and at which do you excel?


Running has definitely been my weakness and where I have had to put the most focus and work into. After ever break it is the one leg that takes much longer to get back to form again. I could swim OK thanks to swimming as a young kid and at school paired with the strength and endurance kayaking gave me. I picked up cycling pretty quickly have turned it into my strength. I look forward to ride days.  Having diversified into Xterra racing means I get to spend some of my ride (and run) time on the trails which is a lot of fun. It’s a great way to work on hills strength without realising how much climbing you have done because your focused on the line and surrounding terrain.


How hard are you currently training and what races do you have coming up?


Challenge Melbourne was the end of a long Australian racing season for me and I took an extended to break let my health recover. I am now starting to get some consistency back in my training and hopefully the worst of Melbourne winter is nearly over.


Penny Hosken

Penny is currently training for the Xterra Gippsland in October and the Noosa Triathlon November.

My upcoming races so far include Xterra Gippsland in October and the Noosa Triathlon November.

After having the Cross Triathlon World Championships in Australia last year sadly there were no other Xterra/Offroad triathlons for the rest of the season which is why I decided to do my first half ironman. I am excited to get back to more Offroad racing this season with the return of a Xterra Australian Series and the Tre-x Off-road Series.


I really enjoy local racing as it is easy to do around full-time work so I will race the Victorian Gatorade Series over Melbourne summer and try to defend my series title. I would also like to do another half ironman after my integral event at Challenge Melbourne.


Penny Hosken

As well as constantly training and competing Penny is also a full-time engineer working for an automotive company in Australia

What other exciting projects do you have planned for the rest of the year and beyond?


I am currently a full-time engineer working for an automotive company in Australia which is closing its Australian office at the end of the year. So next year is going to be a new chapter for me, I don’t know where I will be working or what I’ll be doing. I am planning to take two months break over summer. This will downtime will also allow me more time for training, recovery and most excitingly – more racing!

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