Australia Day Aquathon 2017 launch

Olympic triathlete Aaron Royle will spend his next birthday competing in the Australia Day Aquathon, hopefully with partner Non Stanford if her training allows. Picture: Robert Peet

Olympic triathlete Aaron Royle will spend his next birthday competing in the Australia Day Aquathon, hopefully with partner Non Stanford if her training allows. Picture: Robert Peet

Triathlete sweethearts Aaron Royle and Non Standford helped launch Wollongong’s 18th Australia Day Aquathon on Wednesday.

Royle, who spends half the year training in the Illawarra with the renowned “Wollongong Wizards”, said it’s easier to get to than the Rio Olympics.

“I literally get to wake up, roll out of bed … and walk down the street to the start line. Normally we have to fly halfway around the world,” Royle said.

He noted the high calibre of athletes taking part, such as world champion triathlete Gwen Jorgensen, encourages others to sign up and “test themselves” against the best of the best.

Standford, who competes for Great Britain, hopes to get time off from pre-season training for her first Wollongong Aquathon.

FUN TIMES: Wollongong's Australia Day Aquathon will be the first race of the season for olympic triathletes Aaron Royle and (hopefully) Non Stanford after spending new years in the UK. Picture: Robert Peet

FUN TIMES: Wollongong's Australia Day Aquathon will be the first race of the season for olympic triathletes Aaron Royle and (hopefully) Non Stanford after spending new years in the UK. Picture: Robert Peet

“It looks like a bit of a fast course and one to blow the cobwebs out,” she said.

Organisers expect around 2000 people to take part in the swim/run event including a mix of international, interstate and local athletes.

It begins in Wollongong Harbour before competitors run north along the Blue Mile, while less sporty types can still be included by taking part in the community walk.

Former St George Illawarra co-captain Ben Creagh is the official Kids Aquafun ambassador, the event including four distances to offer children a competitive yet safe experience.

Meanwhile, this year sees MMJ Real Estate the new naming partner.

“MMJ are excited to be associated with a high profile home grown event,” spokesperson Travis Machan said.

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