Talking with Tommy – Voice of XTERRA Part 3
Those who have seen XTERRA commentator Tommy Morwood in action know that his love for XTERRA is matched only by his ability to talk … and talk and talk and talk. For the past two years, Tommy has hosted the live webcast of the XTERRA World Championship in Maui, which means commentating for over seven hours without a break.
Like XTERRA’s other great voices – Kalei Waiwaiole and Whit Raymond – Tommy didn’t set out to be a commentator. He set out to be a triathlete and has been a very successful one.
“I’ve been racing triathlon for 10 years, and this awesome sport has been incredible to me,” said Tommy. “I met my wife in the pool and my best friends on the bike. I’ll stay up until three in the morning to watch ITU events live in Europe and spend my weekend hitting the trails. It’s taken me around the world on crazy adventures to exotic locations. While I’ve never done a full Ironman, I’m fine with that. I get to call myself something even better – an XTERRA Warrior!”
So far, Tommy has competed in 156 triathlons, four world championships (including the 2015 XTERRA World Championship), and competed in five countries across a wide range of distances.
In 2012, Tommy’s world rapidly changed when he was hit by a motorbike while on a training ride. He is quick to downplay the accident, which resulted in a fractured spine and a line of stitches in his face.
“I wasn’t too badly knocked about,” he said. “It could have been a lot worse and no real serious damage lingered, luckily.”
Still, Tommy faced several months of slow recovery before he could regain any kind of activity. Rather than wallow in his man cave (filled with training equipment and a TV for watching triathlon), Tommy began volunteering in his local club – the Hills Tri Club in Sydney.
“One of the jobs I started doing was commentating. It started out with me just talking at our local club series about all the various members as they were out on the course. I couldn’t race but I loved staying connected to the sport.”
With 450 members in his club, Tommy didn’t exactly start out with small events. It wasn’t long before bigger event companies and his state federation came knocking, eager to hire not only his voice, but his exuberance as well.
One of these bigger events companies was putting on XTERRA Callala when it was the 2016 XTERRA Asia-Pacific Championship.
“I had done the race the year before, and because I follow the elite athletes really closely and love analyzing their results, I knew a lot about all of them,” remembers Tommy. “Just my luck, XTERRA President, Janet Clark happened to be there at the race. She must have liked what she heard because a few months later, she called me to host the live webcast at Maui. I’ve done it two years in a row now, and what an amazing experience to work alongside the XTERRA team of Kahuna Dave, Kalei, Whit, Nico, and Kostas.”
“At the XTERRA Asia Pacific Championship, Tommy announced until he had to go to the starting line to race himself,” remembers XTERRA President, Janet Clark. “And as soon as he finished his race, he was back announcing again. His enthusiasm is contagious, and because he is a triathlete himself, he has a keen sense of what athletes want to hear from a commentator. Plus, more power to us Aussies!”
Back home in Sydney, Tommy is into his fourth year as club president for the Hills Tri Club. They host Australia’s largest club race series with over 2,500 entrants and are the reigning state champions.
“My goals for this year in the club are to keep building our junior and female participation base, and defend our state title. Our club is incredibly inclusive and is supported by an amazing bunch of volunteers.”
Tommy is also hoping to make the Australian National Team and compete in the ITU Sprint World Championship in September, but he is quick to point out that he isn’t the only triathlete in his family.
“My wife, Shelly, is a much better athlete than I am,” Tommy admits. “After our second baby is born, she is itching to get back into triathlon. She’ll come to XTERRA Worlds in a few years and I have no doubt she will be on the podium. Hopefully I’ll be there to call her over the line.”
Tommy and Shelly met while training in the same squad.
“She’s always been a faster swimmer than me, so I had extra motivation to swim hard to move up to her lane. I think the first words she ever spoke to me were, ‘Catch me if you can.’”
Since then, Tommy and Shelly have traveled to races together all over Australia, New Zealand, China, the US, and Canada. Even better, they have 21-month old Bailey and are expecting a new baby any day now. Tommy concedes that it’s a bit tougher to train these days, but his enthusiasm for his sport keeps him going.
“With a two-year old and another sibling on the way, I end up doing most of my training in my man cave next to my baby monitor at night or pushing a pram at my local Parkrun. But 19:37 for a pram push 5K ain’t half bad!”
Listen to Tommy in action from last year’s XTERRA World Championship live coverage here.