The Townsville Triathlon Festival’s six events in two days has drawn to a close leaving everyone from children to Goers in their 70s with medals and fond memories.
Yesterday (Sunday) marked the biggest day of the annual Festival, kicking-off just after 7am with the Sprint distance triathlon, shortly followed by the Classic (Olympic) distance wave, then the TP Human Capital Corporate Tri and Enticer at about 10.30am.
It was a picture perfect day, with local pro athlete Sam Murphy claiming victory in the Classic (1.5km swim, 40km ride, 10km run) in 01:59:29, with Townsville’s 18-year-old gun Connor McKay just minutes behind (02:02:52), and 2013 winner Ryan Palazzi (Mackay) a second behind him (02:02:53).
It was Sam Murphy’s first race back after four months off and he said — while being a long way off his peak performance time — he was happy to come in under two hours.
“I was happy with all my times for each leg and I’m stoked to be heading in the right direction for the bigger races later in the year,” Sam said, who usually races longer distances like Ironman and went to the World Championships last year.
“The course is a lot tougher and more technical than people may realise, and it was great seeing so many people setting their own goals, and getting out there on the day and achieving what they set out to do.”
Sam was also impressed with young gun Connor McKay, saying his result was exciting for him and for Townsville in general. It was Connor’s first Olympic distance race after dominating the Sprint scene and he was in the lead for the swim, ride and the first couple of kilometres of the run.
“I’m over the moon — to be honest I was looking for a top 10 finish, so for Sam to catch me on the run was just awesome and I loved it,” Connor said. “I knew I had to put the hammer down from the start, so I was pleased I could be a minute in front out of the water and on the bike, but when he caught me I’d really started to fatigue and wasn’t going at the pace I wanted.
“It was amazing to have so many people down there cheering and supporting and it definitely makes you want to go faster.
“It was also really cool to see everyone out there giving it a go — there were lots of first-timers and I’ve spoken to so many people who decided to just give it a try. It’s fantastic to see and I’d encourage them to keep going.”
The first three ladies in the Classic distance were Victoria’s Chloe Butt (02:16:47), Townsville’s Taryn Gaudin (02:17:45) and Renee Kiley (02:19:50), also from Victoria.
Taryn’s coach Brendan Cochrane — who is also head coach at Free Radicals Tri Club and also participated in the event after 12 months off — said Taryn only recently started triathlon after having a baby and her results are blowing him away.
“She got seventh in her first race, then third, then she won the National Championship in Adelaide to qualify for Chicago and today she got a three-minute PB, so we are really happy with what she’s doing.”
Brendan agreed it was a challenging and technical course with the wind adding an unwelcome extra obstacle to already-fatigued legs, but he said it was a great day and fantastic to be on the course and encouraging other athletes.
In the shorter Sprint event (750m swim, 10km ride, 5km run), Cairns’ teenager Liam Simpson won in 1:04:47, followed by Tyson Sundman (1:05:28), also from Cairns, and Townsville’s Mackenzie Bagley (1:05:29). For the girls, Kaya Shults from Cairns took the victory in 1:11:24, closely followed by Saskia Jurriaans (1:11:53), and the Sunny Coast’s Jessica Hoskin (1:12:39).
There were no surprises in the corporate category with the dream team of Ironwoman Courtney Hancock, National Road Series champion Ruth Corset and Olympic triathlete Courtney Atkinson dominating in 01:54:51.
David Quadroy and Emma Simpson won the Enticer category, with plenty of newbies giving this shorter option a go (400m swim, 15km ride, 2.5km run). It was Heidi Hatherall’s second Enticer and first ocean swim and it was her goal to complete rather than compete.
“Last year I was working at the event, five months pregnant, and set myself the goal of doing it one day,” Heidi said. “The support from people along the bike and run was fantastic it really kept me going.
“The Tri Fest is a well organised event in a sensational location that brings together people of all abilities to challenge themselves and support others and it can’t happen without an army of volunteers, so a big thanks to all involved.”
The Townsville Triathlon Festival opened on Friday night with a Carbs with the Stars dinner featuring an inspiring and tear-jerking talk from wheelchair athlete John Maclean who now competes as an able-bodied athlete. Saturday was the Kids Tri and the Elite Mile.