Ashleigh Neil: Podium Finisher Fundraising For Cancer Research

by Marty Pinkstone 21 Nov 2016

Ashleigh Neil won first place in the Women’s 20-24 age category at the Kurnell Sprint Triathlon earlier this year, where she competed as a practice event while training for the Olympic Triathlon with Can Too. We caught up with her to find out how she balanced her fitness goals with her fundraising for cancer research.


I moved to Sydney from Wagga Wagga, and not long after met a few girls while riding with a women’s start-up cycling bunch in Akuna Bay. I explained to them the difficulties I had faced moving to a new city with not many friends and my desire to discover new places to cycle and groups to become a part of, and they were quick to recommend I try a Can Too Triathlon program. So I Joined my first program with Can Too in the hope of making some new like-minded friends.

I can happily say I’ve built long lasting friendships.

I wanted to improve my fitness and complete my first Olympic (Standard) Triathon and join a coached training for the first time. I’ve done shorter distances like the Sprint Triathlon in the past where I have trained on my own sporadically, so I was interested to see how I could do with professional coaching and a structured training plan: in particular to learn more about ocean swimming and open water swimming.  I chose Can Too so I could do all this and fundraise for cancer research.

I have proudly achieved all of the goals I set out to conquer!

I really enjoyed the training for the Olympic distance and competing the Sprint Tri as a practice event. The most challenging parts for me was learning to run well, and building up a good base to work from, having not done a lot of running. At times I was frustrated when I wanted to run more – and run harder – but I was held back with soreness from training differently and using different muscles. My coaches were really knowledgeable and gave great advice and we had guest speakers talk on injury prevention, nutrition, shoes, strength and conditioning. I feel like I learned a lot.

I was able to complete the program without injury and become a stronger runner, which dramatically helped my triathlon goals!

My favourite part of the program and the entire experience was training as a group and looking forward to showing up to each session (very often in beautiful locations!) knowing that your team mates will lift you up even if the session is getting hard. The camaraderie and motivation from your fellow Can Tooers is so valuable in hitting training goals. The coaches taught me a lot of tips and tricks that helped me get a podium finish at the Sprint Tri. Simple but effective things like how to set up and execute a good transition on race day.

I’ve learned triathlon is my favourite because I get to train AND eat at the same time – my two favourite things!

I’ve made some long lasting friendships through Can Too. It was amazing to find so many like-minded people who enjoyed doing the same things as me. I was overwhelmed with the kindness, support and friendship, I felt so welcome when I joined, having never done Can Too before. I loved it so much I came back and did the Trail Run later this year.

The best thing I’ve taken away from my Olympic Triathlon training was the fundraising, event planning, and being a part of community activities are transferrable to my involvement with Beauty Pageants, where at times the contestants fundraise and organise charity events. Training, working and fundraising does require some time management and it’s important that I learned how small amounts of time or donations can all add up in the end to achieve the fundraising goal.

The company I work for, GHD, have been supportive of my journey with Can Too including dollar matching my fundraising, hosting events at my workplace and my colleagues asking me about training and race day results.

It feels great to be a part of something bigger than myself and give to give my time and support towards achieving a cancer free future. I’m proud of the funds that I have raised for major beneficiary Cure Cancer Australia and collaboration partner Cancer Council NSW.

I’d recommend Can Too Triathlon to others because of the long lasting friendships I have made and because of the great community that is Can Too. It’s the perfect environment to try something new, meet new people or become more involved in your community and invest in your health. Fitness and fundraising is more fun with friends!!!

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