Meet Harriet Brown

This year for International Women’s Day, we wanted to highlight the well-deserved attention women’s sport has gained this past year.

2023 saw Australian female athletes make their mark, with our National Cricket Team, The Ashes, kicking off the year taking 1st in the T20 World Cup; The Diamonds, Australia’s national netball team went on to take the World Cup Title in August; and following suit with the most watched televised program in history, we saw our beloved Matilda’s win the heart of our nation in the FIFA Women’s World Cup semi-final. The impact these athletes have had extends beyond just young girls, resonating with all Australian youth, establishing a benchmark for the future of women’s sports. 

woman on beach with sunscreen

To honour the incredible careers we see in female athletes across Australia, we sat down with #TeamFeelGood Ambassador, Harriet Brown, to tell us about her amazing career as a World Champion Iron-woman and 2 x winner of the Nutri-Grain IronWoman Series. 

    When did you first dream of becoming an Iron-woman and how did you get started?

    I first started surf lifesaving as a ‘nipper’ when I was 9 years old at Ocean Grove SLSC. I fell in love with the sport straight away, but I didn’t ever think that it was possible for me to become a professional ironwoman. I just loved being in the surf, competing and hanging out with my friends. It wasn’t until I finished school that I decided to move to the warmer weather and stronger surf clubs on the Gold Coast. I moved up to study and train, and chase my dream of becoming an ironwoman.

    Any moments in your career that had a profound impact on you?

    When I was 20 I competed in the Coolangatta Gold, an endurance ironwoman event on the Gold Coast. At the end of the race I ended up collapsing and needed a drip. Since that race I have always thought that my body wasn’t cut out for endurance events. So, I didn’t sign up to any since from that day until I was 26 and was selected as a late call up to the Australian paddleboard and SUP team to compete in Fiji. I said yes, of course, because it sounded like an epic adventure. Whilst in Fiji I competed in a 20km paddleboard race. It was hardly a long endurance event but I surprised myself by feeling pretty good, winning the 2 hour race. That inspired me to sign up to the Molokai to Oahu paddleboard world championships in Hawaii, a 54km race across the Kaiwi channel. I was the most nervous I have ever been before that first crossing and I was so worried I wouldn’t make the distance. When I finished (in record time) it was an incredible feeling. Not just because I won, but mostly because I achieved something I didn’t think was possible for me.

    I have since raced that race two more times and from it, created so many great memories and met so many wonderful people. If I still doubted my ability to do endurance events, I would never have those beautiful experiences and realised my human potential.

    Sometimes failure can teach us so much, can you tell us about a time you faced a setback in your career and what you learned from it?

    I have had a few setbacks in my career and each of them has been a valuable lesson. In 2021 I injured my foot whilst competing in the Nutri-Grain ironwoman Series. I was devasted as it was a season ending injury. I sat in the hospital bed watching my friends compete in the Ironwoman series on TV when I found out I would need screws in my foot and two surgeries. I wasn’t about to walk for two months and it was a slow and tedious progression back to running. I struggled throughout this time as I wasn’t able to do what I loved. When I was slowly easing back into training, I was so far behind the squad that I wasn’t sure if I would be able to race well again. I started focusing on one day at a time, one small goal at a time and slowly I built myself back up. I was so focused on training and so grateful to be back. That next season I surprised myself and ended up winning the Ironwoman series title, something I am really proud of.

    You’ve recently announced your retirement, where to next?

    I’ve been competing at the highest level in the Ironwoman series for 15 years. I feel so lucky to have been able to live out my dream. I have raced at beautiful beaches, made some incredible friends, travelled the world, pushed my body to the limit and won and lost many races. However, after 15 years of training 14-16 times per week, it’s time to step back. I am not exactly sure what my next chapter will look like but I am excited to find out. I am getting married in May and I am looking forward to some sleep ins. One passion of mine that I am excited to pursue is Kamana Community. Fellow ironwoman, Lizzie Welborn, and I created Kamana to educate, inspire and build confidence in female athletes so they can reach their potential. We present workshops on topics that aren’t spoken enough about including; the menstrual cycle, body confidence, nutrition and performance mindset. I am excited to see where this can go when I am not so tired from training. I love being active, so no doubt I will continue to train and do some racing occasionally.

    Any advice for young women in sport?

    My advice to young women in sport is to dream big and work hard to achieve your dreams. It will be challenging at times, but keep consistent, keep turning up to training and be patient. And most importantly, enjoy what you do! Find a sport that brings you joy and you will have so much fun along the way.


    traveller sunscreen with carabiner

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