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By Madeleine Gray on March 8, 2017 in News

Photo: Paul Taylor

Photo: Paul Taylor

It’s very easy to think about doing ‘something for charity’, but turning this vague, altruistic aspiration into an actuality is another thing entirely.

However, action is in the blood of local couple Debi Hazelden and John Mergler.

The pair met back in 2014 at the infamous ‘Heartbreak Hill’ on New South Head Road, when Mr. Mergler, who was interested in ‘Everesting’ (cycling the height of Mt Everest), heard about a local lass who was already training to do just that.

“I went out to check it out and ended up running 10 hill repeats while she cycled,” Mr. Mergler said. ”A year later we got engaged on the same hill.”

“So the Eastern Suburbs is special to us for a number of reasons,” added Ms. Hazelden.

The couple now runs a triathlon club, ‘Million Miles Club’, out of Centennial Park, Clovelly Beach, and Victoria Park Pool. While they often train for specific events, they are just as passionate about keeping fit generally.

“We have people of all abilities training with us – from beginners through to experienced triathletes,” Ms. Hazelden said.

Not content with their current training regime, Ms. Hazelden and Mr. Mergler have now decided to channel their sporting prowess into raising money for the Red Cross. The pair is currently undertaking what they’ve dubbed the ‘Iron Century’.

“I am doing 100 half ironman distances every day while John is doing 100 full ironman distances every day for 100 days, raising funds for the Red Cross,” Ms. Hazelden said.

“My weekly totals will be 14km swimming, 630km cycling and 147km running, with a combined total of 190km swimming, 9,000km cycling and 2,100km running.

“John’s weekly totals will be 26.6km swimming, 1,260km cycling, 295.4km running with a combined total of 380km swimming, 18,000km cycling, 4,220km running.”

While the feat will be an exercise in self-regulation, stamina and tenacity, it’s also about inspiring people to donate to a good cause.

“It would be selfish to do this for ourselves, so we looked around for a great charity to support,” Mr. Mergler said.
“We felt we needed to create something that was helping people outside of Australia, who were in immediate crisis through no fault of their own.

“Red Cross shines a beacon for historically helping displaced people and people in crisis.

“Our target for the 100 days is $100,000. So far we’ve raised over $15,000.”

Ms. Hazelden’s experience as a new mother to seven month-old Ryder is also part of her inspiration. She told The Beast that she wants to show other new mothers that motherhood and keeping an exercise regime are not incompatible.

“As a new mum, you need to try and keep something for yourself, some time for you to be you,” she said. “For me this is triathlon, something I was passionate about before Ryder was born; for others it could be getting back in the pool, getting the yoga mat back out or putting those dancing shoes back on.”

Ms. Hazelden and Mr. Mergler are lucky enough to be supported in their endeavor by a number of local businesses, but they’ll need your help to reach the $100,000 goal. You can donate at