Together in Tri
SRAM athletes Josh Amberger and Ashleigh Gentle of Australia are building their triathlon careers and their lives together. A couple for 10 years, they balance the all-consuming training schedules and travel of pro triathletes while looking to each other for encouragement and support. This week, Gentle—fresh off her greatest ITU victory—is in Kona supporting Josh as he prepares for his second Ironman World Championship. We caught up with the pair on the Big Island:
What’s it like being at an event like Kona as a spectator?
Ashleigh: It’s really cool to be at such a big race and not be racing, just to be a supporter. I’ve had a massive year just racing and training. I’ve never seen Josh do an Ironman before…. I’m trying to support him as much as I can on cooking duty every day. I enjoy that too. It helps with me being an athlete because I know what I would like to be done if I had someone helping me.
Photo by Getty Images
What’s a highlight of you watching Ashleigh race?
Josh: She’s just won the biggest race of the year a few weeks ago (when she won the World Triathlon Series Grand Final Gold Coast in a sprint finish). That definitely has to go down as my highlight of seeing Ash compete.… In that race she overcame everything that has ever held her back and went out there and won the race.
Photo courtesy of Felt by @seipies
What do you admire most about Josh as an athlete?
Ashleigh: Josh said just the other day that he doesn’t necessarily fear failure. He more so fears not putting himself in a position to have a chance to win and to make a podium. I admire that a lot because before some of my races, I do fear failure. That is something that has previously held me back, maybe worrying too much about what other people think and being concerned about all of those things that you can’t control.
What do you admire most about Ashleigh as an athlete?
Josh: The tenacity…. Ash has that more than anyone else I’ve ever seen. She’s had many setbacks but is always motivated to get the best out of herself. It’s not always about winning races. She’s going to be competing as long as she feels she has more to squeeze from her body for the sport. She knows she’s in a position where she still does have a lot of performance left in her and ability to gain. That’s what I admire about her two years out from the Olympics, she’s still so committed to one race.
How do you spend time together away from triathlon?
Josh: We have a lot of interests outside of triathlon. The last 18 months it’s been really fun for us. We bought a block of land and we’re building our first house.
Apart from that, we always do a camper trip every year, totally remote. Of course you have to take your cell phone with you for emergencies. But it’s like the cell phone stays in the glovebox. It’s real no-frills camping. We just catch fish. If we don’t catch fish then we’ll just go vegetarian, potatoes. That’s a really good way to just unplug and reset for the next 12 months of training and racing.
How do you help each other deal with stress from competition?
Ashleigh: When I get in full race mode, I know I get super agitated about certain things. I get tired and need a certain amount of sleep. It’s definitely great if Josh is there in Spain, being an athlete as well and being so understanding. We kind of balance each other out quite well.
How often do you train together?
Ashleigh: Not very often anymore. Josh came and stayed in Spain for about six weeks this year, so that was incredible. The demands of our competitions are so different that the opportunity for us to train together is very minimal. I guess only the easy rides if he’s not going out for five hours, or the easy runs.
Josh: Being athletes racing two different circuits, we had very different schedules. We’re doing triathlon, so the lifestyle is the same. But the race schedule and the travel are vastly different. We actually don’t see a great deal of each other throughout the year in season.
How did you two meet? What it through triathlon?
Josh: We didn’t grow up in the same city, but we met really young. We were both in high school. The sport was the connection we had in the early days when racing on the junior circuit. We had a fondness for each other from the beginning, and we’ve been together 10 years now. Of course, there’s one question that everyone keeps asking me, but it’s best kept as a surprise right!
When you first met, who talked with whom first?
Josh: Ash claims she sent the first text message, which was a pretty big step for two shy teens! Thankfully it was still in the pre-smartphone days, but because I was in Brisbane and Ash was on the Gold Coast, we texted and called each other a lot, and still do I guess!
Ashleigh: We were very young! His best friend told me that Josh liked me. That’s how I found out, it didn’t come from Josh himself!