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Orca Community Blog


October 11, 2017


Haven’t heard of Team Freespeed before? A high-performance age-grouper triathlon team that competes in long-distance races, their main objective is to qualify for Kona World Championship each year. This is an objective that Orca is happy to support them in, supplying custom triathlon kit to its members to ensure they have the best gear possible to see them achieve their goals. 

It was on the Big Island, otherwise known as Kona, where this team was founded in 2010 with four triathletes who’d qualified for the World Champs – Stuart Anderson, Declan Doyle, Tim Bishop and Jenny Gowans. With bike shop owner Richard Melik at the helm as Team Manager, they decided to compete under the name ‘Freespeed’, the name of Richard’s store.

In the years since, Team Freespeed has reached the podium nine times in various age groups at the World Championship, including one World Champion - Catherine Faux, who won her age group in Kona in 2013. During this time, the team has also come away with several “Umekes”, the “fruit bowl” given to the first five finishers in each age-group category.

Team manager Melik attributes their success to being as simple as “concentrating on their weaknesses and working on them until they become strengths”.

The Freespeed team is currently made up of 12 athletes who fought throughout the 2017 season for their turn in Kona: Charlie Pennington, Andy Greenleaf, Stuart Anderson, Declan Doyle, Tom Higgins, Tim Bishop, Alain Friedrich, Barry Oelofsen, Alison Rowatt, Ruth Purbrook, Alex Bradley and Jenny Melik. Eight of these athletes ended up qualifying for Kona 2017 and toed the start line two weeks ago to compete for victory in their age-group.

For many of these athletes, it was not their first visit to the island. Founding member Declan Doyle has the best time in Kona, 9 hours and 17 minutes, and Alison Rowatt has come in second three times in her age group at Kona. Declan Doyle, another of the founding members of Team Freespeed has competed five times in Kona, and has twice been the fastest Brit. Despite being newcomers to Kona, Ruth Purbrook and Alex Bradley have achieved great results so far in the 2017 season, so are also expected to go well.


Aside from their results on the race course, these athletes are high achievers in every area of their lives – Alison Rowatt for example is an ex-international hockey player and a solicitor by trade. The Freespeed team is known for being “inspirational, kind and friendly” and there’s little doubt for us that this is a team that represents the values of our brand. 

So it was great to see their success at Kona with Alison Rowatt being crowned world champion in her age-group, Ruth Purbrook third and Charlie Pennington fifth – meaning Team Freespeed achieved three Umekes in 2017. Way to go team! We look forward to following their progress in 2018!