Camilla Brooks steals the spotlight with her sprightly outlook

By Eric Nicole Salta | Photos by Artu Nepomuceno

Camilla Brooks’ unfailingly positive disposition and steely determination alone make for a great story, and few people ever achieve as perfect a marriage of family and sport as she does. Her approach to triathlon sounds the way a beautiful memory feels—inviting, relatable, and tempting enough to explore. But those qualities don’t just describe Brooks, who’s also seriously competitive.

“At times, it can stop me from just relaxing and enjoying,” she says. Despite being a doting mother to Oliver and a loving wife to fellow runner and triathlete Charlie Chua, the UK-born Brooks is right in her element during competitions—neither motherhood nor leaving the US, where she was based, to live in the Philippines tempered the fire she had for sports.

“I have always been athletic. It was just what we did when we had free time.” In high school, she was a sprinter, a lifeguard, and a swim instructor; indeed, this former “gym-going treadmill 10K runner” seems to have a knack for transcending possibilities.

“I started training with ultramarathon legend Jonel Mendoza and I thought, ‘Hey, if he is doing 100K, why can’t I?’ The thought of running beyond marathons all of a sudden became a possibility and then a reality,” she says. “Same with triathlon; to participate in an Ironman 70.3 seemed such a huge feat, but after getting into the triathlon community and joining my team, not only did that become a possibility and then a reality, but so too did the full Ironman distance.”

Her approach to triathlon sounds the way a beautiful memory feels—inviting, relatable, and tempting enough to explore. But those qualities don’t just describe Brooks, who’s also seriously competitive

That kind of spirit has led Brooks to complete five 70.3 races including the World Championships in Las Vegas, three Xterra full triathlons, and a full Ironman at Bohol 226, one of her most memorable experiences, which in her own words, “reinforced the importance of determination and discipline, taught me to dig deep, and ultimately, to just keep putting one foot in front of the other.”

Fittingly, Brooks looks to have found her feet while continuing to juggle her career and personal life. “Having a baby has been humbling. It hasn’t taken away my competitive nature, but rather, it’s challenging me to let it go and to rejoice in my current ability to participate given all the other things in my life right now. More importantly, it is teaching me to stay focused on my own race and not get caught up with the competition around me. On this last piece, I’m a work in progress!”

“For instance, I ran the Pyongyang Marathon. The cut-off time was four hours, which if I hadn’t just had a baby, would not have worried me, but this would be my first marathon after Oliver and I was a bit worried. The night before, I met a fellow runner in the elevator and he had such a wonderful approach. He said, ‘This is one of the only times, as a foreigner, you will be able to spend four hours, relatively unaccompanied, on the streets of Pyongyang, why rush it?’”

“I did make it by the way, placing third in the international female division (my teammate placed second). That was an awesome experience and when I was standing up on the podium in the stadium full of 40,000 people, I thanked my competitive nature!”