Christmas is coming at us faster than a G20 Blackhawk helicopter, and for parents looking for lovely stocking fillers, this little locally written book could fit nicely at the top.

Natalia de Clercq is a mother of three boys and a committed triathlete, and she’s taken time out of her busy schedule to write her first children’s book, The Tale of Ellie and Triathlon, a little story about a mummy Echidna taking on the ultimate sporting challenge. (The book is illustrated by local artist Kerry Fiske.)

I caught up with her to find out what motivates a mum to get out and compete in triathlons all over the country and what message she wants to send to kids when they read the story of Ellie.

Natalia, tell me about the book. 

The Tale of Ellie and Triathlon is a beautifully illustrated children’s book about some endearing Australian bush animals that take up triathlons. There’s a little message about having self belief and that anything is possible.

Obviously you’re passionate about triathlons. Do you take part in many? What made you start?

Yes, I am a keen participant but I only took it up after I had my twins.

I used to do long distance running but I had to give that up for a while so I got into cycling because it was good for recovery. Then I started the transition from cycling to swimming for conditioning, and then I saw this crazy Ironman race on the Sunshine Coast and I thought, “OK, that looks like a challenge!”

Wow, as if having twins isn’t a big enough challenge!

Yeah, I think I did it for my sanity, though. I was trying to teach my children to try new things as they got older so I thought it was about time Mum started to diversify her skills and learn some new things too.

On the long course you can be out there for 14 hours so it’s kind of like mediation! You can prioritise things in your head and you can reflect when you usually don’t have time in your day to day life running after kids. You come home after training and they are all over you but you feel like you’ve had time to sort yourself out. And when you’re competing in triathlons there’s always something to work on, which is like parenting.

I took the animals on because all different kinds of people take on the sport. I remember my first triathlon was a team event and we had a lady who must have been about 60 who was passing me and I was thinking, “Wow, this sport is amazing, it doesn’t discriminate”. Even for spectators, they have the powerful effect of getting on board – everyone gets caught up in the spirit!

Why did you decide to write a children’s book on triathlon?

I was a teacher in a past life and I always wanted to write a book but I never had a message until I started having my own children. That message came to the forefront and I thought I wanted to help them grow with self-esteem and have self belief. I wanted to share the feeling you get when you finish an Ironman event; it makes you feel like you can do anything!

And the response has been great. Dads love reading about Eddy the Emu on his bike and mums are also learning as they read to the kids.

Well, your passion for triathlons is palpable. Good luck with the book!

Thank you! People can follow Ellie’s journey on Facebook.

Natalia will appear at BSKT Cafe (4 Lavarack Rd, Mermaid Beach) to promote the book this Tuesday 11 November at 11am.