Greg and Laura are side-by-side almost constantly, and they wouldn’t have it any other way. They speak using ‘I’ and ‘we’ interchangeably—a habit that can be confusing to an outside observer, if not for the undeniable bond that links them together. Some particularly close couples finish one another’s sentences. The Bennetts seem to complete one another’s thoughts and glances. It’s as if they share a collective consciousness.
“It’s so true!” exclaimed Laura. “Sometimes he’ll bring up something and I’ll say, ‘Where’d you learn that? I don’t think you know that! You must have been studying. I know everything you know!’”
“It’ll be something from the 20 minutes I’ve had on the Frontier Airline’s television when I’ve gone to a race without her,” said Greg, laughing.
Laughter punctuates nearly every conversation the couple shares, both of them erupting into good-natured giggles at the slightest provocation. They laugh at themselves, at each other, at every opportunity; they’re simply a happy pair. They’re also uncannily similar. Both Bennetts come from solid family foundations with a 12-year spread among their siblings (Laura’s four and Greg’s two). Both their mothers are competitive go-getters (Laura’s in real estate sales, Greg’s in fundraising); their fathers are the families’ even-keeled, sporting influences.
Greg and Laura were encouraged by their parents in every pursuit—athletic and otherwise—and each was introduced to triathlon in the mid-1980s, albeit on opposite ends of the globe. Their Olympic fourths are not their only identical results: In 2009 the couple won Ironman 70.3 Augusta in tandem, during a brief foray into long-course racing. They each own numerous ITU World Cup titles and were named Triathlete magazine’s Triathletes of the Year in 2007. The two self-professed late-bloomers even look alike and could easily be mistaken for brother and sister, until the moment they speak and Greg’s impassioned Aussie accent bounds about in contrast to Laura’s all-American purr.
Finding one another was a perfect gift of fate, they say.
In 2000, Greg was questioning his future in the sport. He’d been controversially left off the Australian Olympic Team, despite a No. 2 world ranking. He was bitter and burned out.
“I was pretty despondent with the sport, a little bewildered with it all,” Greg said. “Then my longtime friend Simon Whitfield said, ‘Come to Victoria [Canada] and help me get ready for Sydney [the 2000 Olympics, where Whitfield won gold].’ I was kind of in no-man’s land wondering whether I should retire. So I moved to Canada and suddenly there was a squad where everybody was happy and having a good time. I hadn’t experienced that for about four years—it had felt like work. But in the forests of Canada I got my passion for running. I found new life in the sport. And then Laura came in August of 2000. I almost feel that, had I gone to the Olympics, maybe I wouldn’t have met her. So in the end, good luck/bad luck, who knows? Around every corner, after every disappointment is
something new. Laura was also questioning if she should continue with the sport, and here we are 11 years later and loving it!”
Laura, who was then Laura Reback, had indeed gone to Canada to prepare for her last hurrah as a professional triathlete.
“I was getting ready to go back down to Australia in 2001 for one more go at the old Formula One series, and then I was planning to call it quits. I’d only been racing professionally for a couple of years, but I had realized it was a lot of travel. I loved hanging out with all my girlfriends on the circuit, but I kind of wanted to get my future life going, you know? I knew if I had one person to share it all with, to do everything together—that would make every experience that much better. Otherwise I was done!”
It didn’t take the two long to realize they were each other’s special someone. Greg was smitten the moment a bikini-clad Laura stepped onto the pool deck, and Laura noticed the able-bodied Aussie during a run session. That afternoon they shared a coffee and started a conversation that cemented their connection, and they have been talking ever since. Five short weeks following their first Starbucks date, the Bennetts were co-habitating. Both were headed from Victoria to Australia to train under the guidance of renowned triathlon coach Lance Watson, so the decision to set up house in their new environs made perfect sense.
“I must say that first year living together was probably worse than the first year of marriage,” Laura recalled. “Because we knew we wanted to make this work forever. So everything meant something.”
“We both knew this was ‘the One,’” agreed Greg. “But you don’t know what the boundaries are—you don’t know the rules—and that first year we had to get a lot sorted. The one thing we’ve done really well is keep open communication. That was paramount from the beginning, getting our relationship established. We set up certain rules—we had to! We always had to give each other a kiss good morning and a kiss good night. No one was allowed to go to bed angry. Those types of rules. And we’ve kept that going.”
“The biggest rule has always been keeping our relationship first. When you decide to do that, once you have that baseline, everything else falls into place. I mean we’re together 24/7, so clearly we’re compatible,” Laura added with a characteristic giggle.
And they don’t get bored—or do they?
“Ummm …” teased Laura.
“Don’t ‘um’!” retorted Greg, feigning defensiveness.
And with this, both Bennetts immediately crack up.
“Only when we get tired do we argue,” said Greg. “What happens is you find yourself wanting to have an argument, and you don’t even know why. The other one will say, ‘You’re tired,’ and immediately you come back and say, ‘Oh no I’m not!’ And then you go put your head on the pillow and boom! You’re out. So we’ve gotten really good at understanding when we’re tired. We’ve worked hard at that.”