No matter how many times we come back to the same venue and the same course, the Sri Chinmoy Off-Road Duathlons – staged, uniquely, through the National Botanic Gardens and Black Mountain Reserve – each and every year offer surprises aplenty.
Sometimes bitterly cold at the start, the first surprise of 2017 was a comparatively balmy morning under a cloudless deep (deeper than sky-blue) blue sky. Following on Canberra’s driest June on record, the tracks were hard and stony, leading to a higher-than-usual incidence of flat tyres and mechanical issues on the bike leg.
Penny Slater today dismantled a 12-year-old course record in becoming the first woman to break the 2-hour mark for the Sri Chinmoy Long-Course Off-Road Duathlon. Penny’s impressive 1:59:22 was built on a new course best time over the bike leg of 1:06:03. Jennifer Davis was 2nd among the Female Under 50 with 2:12:22; and Alexandra Durr 3rd in 2:21:18.
Dave Osmond has been the most regular participant in this race since its inception and always places on or about the podium, so it was especially satisfying to see his consistency rewarded today with a victory in the men’s Long-Course race, in a superb 1:42:09. Adrian Sheppard, another stalwart of this event, followed Dave home in 1:46:00, from 3rd-placed Dave Hardwicke’s 1:48:14.
Peter Evans blitzed the Male 50-59 field with his fine round of 2:05:33; while Peter Fogarty took out the Male 60 and Over category in 2:16:53 – and also benefitted from the induction of this category in the official course records, starting from this year. While he took out the overall best time and fastest bike time, nevertheless the fastest times for both runs are now held by David Alder.
Andrew and Ben Tuchler established a new course record in winning the All-Male Team with their line-honours effort of 1:40:03. Daniel Oehm also ran the fastest-ever time for a male team member in helping his team “Meat & Veg” into 2nd placing.
The Belinda/Susie combo of “Jube” were too good in the All-Female team division, winning with 2:27:41; while Antonio and Melanie’s “Mind over Matter” proved the veracity of their name in taking out the Mixed Team prize with 2:18:17.
David Simpfendorfer led the field from the start in the Short-Course race, to carry home the race outright in a fine 35:26. 2nd and 3rd outright were stars from the Male 50-59 category – Kim Houghton was forced to break his own age-group course record with an outstanding 39:45 (collecting a new record for the final run along the way of 11:14), due to a superb charge on the bike from Nick Smee, whose final time of 40:01 was also better than the previous record, and who now owns the fastest time for this age group over the 7km bike course of 21:12.
Phoebe Chadwick-Masters based her victory in the women’s race on a fine bike ride, cruising in to win in 45:21, from Kathryn Hopkins’ 46:31 and Abigail Adera’s 49:01. Razz Morgan took out the Female Over 50s with 57:46, which including a new best time for her age group over the 1st run of 7:11.
The “Ballistic Boyz” of Morgan and Tom won the All-Male team prize for the second year running with 46:27; while Alison and Paul’s “Team Hills” took out the Mixed Team in the Short-Course race in 45:36.
Each race of this type is a world in itself: there are many adventures, dramas, struggles, disappointments and triumphs along the way for each of us. If we had an award for the outstanding performance of the day, it would go to Brett Ladd, who made the trip from Sydney to compete. The published results show that Brett came in second last in the Long-Course race. What the results don’t show, is that Brett stopped to help a fellow competitor who had suffered a broken bike chain – not once, not twice, but THREE times! – thus sacrificing over 40 minutes of his own precious race time.
Our gratitude also goes to Simon Whitehead of Sports Medicine Australia for his invaluable service; to everyone from Triathlon ACT who officiated with a perfect combination of cheerfulness and professionalism; our friends at Access Canberra for helping with permits; and to helpers from the Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team.