The love and joy of life transcends and overcomes all hardships – like for example, a cold morning! In the midst of the coldest spell of weather in Canberra for 30 years, the second largest field ever assembled for the annual Sri Chinmoy Off-Road Duathlons gathered at Black Mountain in the fog. There is something about sharing adversity which makes it the easier to bear: while we all felt the cold, the fact that we were all in it together made it not only bearable, but even somehow enjoyable – a talking point at least, and certainly a force eliciting a sharper focus in our efforts, imbuing the event with a heroic strain rendering it all the more memorable. This is one event we will all hark back to in future years: when there’s a hint of cool or mist about the air and grumbling about the cold, we will retort: “This is nothing, you should have been here in 2015!”
The Sri Chinmoy Off-Road Duathlons comprise two events – a short course and a long course – each open to solo participants and relay teams of two, a runner and a mountain biker. The first run leg is on roadways through the National Botanic Gardens, while the MTB and second run courses follow tracks and trails through Black Mountain Reserve.
At the “pointy end” of the men’s long course field, the first two placings from 2014 were reversed. Dave Osmond has consistently been one of the best performers throughout the history of this event, always placing in the top few positions either as a solo participant or occasionally in a relay team. Last year he was out-run by then-new father, Rowan Beggs-French who just missed out on the all-time course record. This year however, it was Dave who was able to draw away on the mighty climb up Black Mountain, to win the race outright for the first time in 1:44:15, with Rowan a few minutes back at the finish in 1:46:56.
The new positioning of the bike compound has slightly shortened the first run leg, so it was to be expected that the course record for this leg might be threatened: hence it was no surprise to see Michael Chapman set a new standard of 9:41. Yet just as the first run leg is now a bit shorter so is the second run leg that much longer, so If there were any doubts about Michael’s credentials in setting a new record for a shorter course, they were emphatically answered when he also blitzed a new record for the now-longer second run leg of 31:11. If he can shave a few minutes off his bike time, Michael will be a serious threat in this format.
Meanwhile in the women’s race, Elizabeth Humphries made it a “family affair” by also taking the outright win in 2:07:07 from Kylie Message in 2:18:06. Dave Osmond – who happens to be Elizabeth’s partner – has teamed up with her to win the relay division in past years; however this year they both went solo and reaped the full rewards for years of super-high level consistency and excellence.
Jon Schol came in just ahead of Elizabeth to take out the Men 50+ in 2:06:55.
The “Squadra Coglione” team took out the All-Male teams category in 1:49:39, including a sensational ride from Kel Boers who broke Dave Osmond’s previous course record for the bike leg with a flashing 55:25; while “Megan and Elizabeth” (yes, that’s their team name!) were first in the All-Female Teams in 2:15:46; and “Team Argument” managed to set aside their differences long enough to win the Mixed Teams in 1:58:33.
Cameron Colebatch had earlier won the short course men’s race convincingly in a sprightly 37:50, with Gerry Smith taking out the Men 50+ in 45:11 – including a new course record for the first run leg of 5:42. Jacqueline Oberg from Goulburn took out first place in the women’s short course event with 55:03.
In all the years this event has been held, there has never been an all-male team in the short course race. Hence when youngsters Tom and Morgan submitted a late entry on the morning as “The Ballistic Boys”, they not only were assured of taking out first place – which they duly did in an impressive 51:20 – they also now hold the course record for this division! Meanwhile, Brady and Sarah of “The Braybees” successfully defended their title in the Mixed Teams category with another outstanding outing of 41:00.