Sunshine Coast puts spring in the step of stricken Ironwoman
  • Tuesday 30 August 2016

It’s every triathlete’s ultimate fear – landing in a foreign country to find out your tools of the trade have been lost in transit.

It was a nightmare come true for Norwegian Gunhild Bernsten, who arrived in Australia late last week without the bike, helmet, wetsuit and running shoes she needs for Sunday’s Ironman 70.3 World Championship at Mooloolaba.

Tears of despair have turned to tears of joy and relief over the past couple of days though as the Sunshine Coast community came to her rescue, replacing the lost equipment.

Gunhild said she was overwhelmed by the support from locals.

“My heart absolutely sank when I arrived from the other side of the world to find out my gear was lost and my dream of competing in the Ironman 70.3 World Championships was as good as over,” she said.

“My husband is currently serving in the Norwegian Army in Sicily as part of NATO so for this disaster to happen when I was alone made things even harder.

“I told the manager of Landmark Resort in Mooloolaba where I’m staying about my situation and the next thing I knew people were coming to help me and lend me all the equipment that was lost. It was absolutely amazing!”

Landmark Resort general manager Marion Mollett said she was determined to help her stricken guest.

“I was heartbroken for Gunhild when I heard what had happened to her and just wanted to do everything I could to help,” she said.

“For a finely tuned and dedicated athlete like her to have put in so much hard work to qualify for a world championships it was just awful to think all of that could be brought undone by a luggage mishap.”

Marion contacted Sunshine Coast Council and within hours Gunhild had everything she needed to be back on track for this Sunday’s big event.

“I was picked up from my accommodation and driven to bike shops, sports and triathlon shops and everyone was so generous in wanting to help me out,” Gunhild said.

“Bill Abram at Dare 2 Tri lent me a wetsuit and helmet and ‘Giant Sunshine Coast’ and Cyclezone were also incredibly helpful in lending me bikes so I can practise on the course for this weekend’s Ironman 70.3 race.

“Toby Coote from Sunshine Coast Triathlon Academy and David Chick from Allez Sport were also very helpful. They put messages about my situation on Facebook and within hours I had eight offers from people willing to lend me bikes.”

With her gear still at large, Gunhild hopes travel insurance will enable her to buy a new bike in time for Sunday’s Ironman 70.3 World Championship.

“No matter what happens this weekend, the Sunshine Coast will hold a special place in my heart for the incredible generosity and kindness that people have shown to me when I needed it most. For that, I am forever thankful,” she said.