It’s fair to say that if anyone in the Balance Triathlon community can handle their fair share of race day adversity it’s Travis Shields. Fresh from his awe inspiring Bussleton finish earlier in the week, it comes as no surprise to see him now partnering with endurance racing powerhouse IRONMANTM, to launch an ambitious new concept which takes Triathlon to a level that no one dreamed possible.

“I got tired of podium finishes a long time ago,” quips Shields. “To be honest I can’t even remember climbing my first podium – even my kids are tired of cheering for me”. It’s exactly this complacency problem that exists at the pinnacle of the sport which Shields’ brand new concept ADVERSITYMANTM is looking to solve. For the majority of age group triathletes, the coveted podium finish in an IRONMANTM event will demand a lifetime of thankless brick sessions and soul destroying swim squads with a mere pull buoy to call friend. For Shield’s though, he always knew there was something missing for a select few who have been forced to experience all the glory the sport has on offer.

It was at a recent family barbeque that Shields first came to realise there was a deeper issue. “Here I was drinking Cook’s expired Aldi beverages surrounded by a captive audience who were listening intently to one of his many racing misadventure stories.” It is important to note at this point that Travis is referring to his fellow Balance Triathlon Club team mate, brother-in-law and notorious race day buffoon Trent Cook. “and I was armed with my story about the time I raced Crowie at Kona but all everyone wanted to hear about was yet another of Trent’s race day slap stick routines. I mean, the guy considers completing an event within an hour of my finish time his race day plan if you know what I mean.” It was this very insight into the common man that would lead Shields to make a stunning discovery.

“The light bulb moment for me was my pre-race gear test for IRONMANTM Australia earlier in the year. I gave the bike a once over and when I checked my Di2 battery, it was flat.” laughs Shields. “I thought to myself, what if I could complete the entire race with a flat Di2 battery? It’s a hilly course, I think the people might like it!” The rest as they say is history. In the pouring rain at Port Macquarie, Shields would complete the 180km bike leg stuck in the same gear, running hills that he was unable to climb and cycling wherever he was able. The crowd was captivated and the seed of ADVERSITYMANTM was sewn.

After some discussions with IRONMANTM it was decided that Shields would again put himself in the hot seat at Busselton, with a feature race to showcase the concept. This time though, Shields would need to dial up the level of adversity, so it was decided that an inpromptu bike stack and inconvenient tyre change would be artfully woven into the race plan. To make things really interesting he would also simultaneously aim for an automatic Kona qualification, podium finish and dispatch of fellow Balance club veteran Brad Martens in the process.

While Shields was unable to meet the automatic Kona cut off time of 9 hours, it made for enthralling viewing and took fans right down to the wire with him as he ticked off a seemingly impossible list of race day objectives. Despite the level of adversity that came his way, Shields battled on to heroically claim second place and more importantly emerged as a genuine entertainer of the sport. It’s exciting to contemplate how this spectacular new venture might evolve in the years to come.