Love conquers all.
One month prior to the 2016 edition of the Sri Chinmoy Multi-Sport Classic, with only 5 entries received, it seemed the event had lost its appeal and might have breathed its last.
This prospect brought forth a surge of affection and enthusiasm for the race which saw this number multiply tenfold in the next 3 weeks …
… and so the race lives on, thanks entirely to the love of its participants. Our gratitude especially to Michael Brennan – who beat the drum far and wide – and locals from the Jindabyne area for their eager support and faith in this event. The increased participation from local teams also attracted more spectators and supporters, with lots of children adding a happy, festival atmosphere to the transition zones.
The morning dawned calm under a crescent moon above Kalkite, portent of a bright, clear day. 6 solo athletes and 44 relay teams took the plunge for the 1.5km triangular swim in the warm (24 degree) waters at the head of Lake Jindabyne.
The race among the Solo Males proved to be an epic – though placings out of the first swim would prove deceptive, as the final three finishers completed the opening leg in the reverse order of their final standing. Michael Brennan was consistently fastest in the swims, taking the lead again after the second (2.5km) swim leg. It was the first paddle leg however, that revealed the most crucial factor in the ultimate contest – the superior paddling power of defending champion Tim Boote. Klayten Smith – a former winner of Canberra's Sri Chinmoy Triple-Triathlon (which has no paddling) – made his serious move through the two toughest legs of the race, the 11.5km run up the Pallaibo Track and Waterfall Loop, and the following 42.8km mountain bike ride into the heart of the National Park, over Botherum Plain and behind Mt Kalkite. Starting the second run leg with a 14 minute deficit, he reduced this to 4 minutes at Sawpit Creek. By the top of the climb out of the Snowy River on the long bike ride, Klayten had taken the lead. The pair matched stroke for stroke through the final swim and into the transition at Creel Bay, only for Tim to draw away once more in the final paddle leg to win in the end by a convincing 7 minutes. Both smashed the course record which Tim had set only the year before, his new mark now standing at 9:41:17. Astonishingly, Tim finished 2nd outright and Klayten 4th outright even among all the teams. Michael took 3rd among the solos, finishing in 10:42:33. Each of the 3 solo male finishers came away with a new course record for various legs: Tim set a new best time for the 1st MTB course; Klayten a new fastest for the long 3rd MTB; and Michael for the 3rd swim.
Alina McMaster won the inaugural Sri Chinmoy Multi-Sport Classic in 2005, returning 11 years later to conquer the now-longer and tougher course solo once more and inspire us all, a true champion soaring through the challenges/opportunities of age, family and a litany of injuries. Drawing on immense courage and determination, Alina thrilled all with her rousing performance. She also set new Solo Female course records for the 1st run and MTB legs, which have been revised since the original course she raced in 2005.
Though they were not pitted against each other, there was nevertheless an intriguing race between Alina and Jon Schol, racing for the first time in the Male 50+. They took turns in the lead until the decisive long ride when Jon pulled away en route to establishing a new course record for his category of 12:14:30.
Standout team of the day – leading from leg 3 to the finish and ultimately winning by a full hour from the runners-up – "Cross, Johnny and the Flying Fishers" (Ryan Cross, Brad Fisher, John Morton and Tim Fisher), easily won the "T4 Open" division from "Inhibitory Synapse" (Peter Velloza, Simon Robertson, Sean Chan and Andrew Grifffin) and "3 Men and a Baby" (Matt Backhouse, Ray Bostleman, Derek Shearer and Steve Baker) – all under the magical 10 hours. 5th placed T4 Open "Hasbeens" featured the star swimmer of the day, Jacques Lepron, who swam the fastest time for each of the 3 swim legs, including a new course record for Swim 3.
"Yeah no kids" (Philippa Woodhill, Claire Edwards, Nicolee Martin and Carolyn Droste) took out the T4 All-Female in 12:15:26; while "32 Flavours" returned as a 3-person ensemble of Milly Brent, Ron Brent and Steve Hanley to handsomely win the T4 Mixed category in 10:09:18 from "Slinky" (Heather Lawton, Andrew Slocombe, Tom Landon-Smith and Michelle Greche) and "CGS Outdoor" (Peter Macartney, Sue Donoghoe, Laura Marshall and Mark Vogel).
The distinction between "Open" and "Mixed" teams is that a Mixed team must have at least 4 legs completed by female team members. Therefore "Open" includes all-male teams and teams with fewer than 4 legs completed by females – meaning that Open teams generally return faster results than Mixed teams and feature higher in the Overall standings – but not today! A notable feature of this race was the extraordinary dominance of the Mixed teams over the Open teams in the T12 division.
"Team KAOS" – mostly young girls and few "oldies" – powered by 2 bike leg records from Tara Sutherland (MTB 1 and MTB 2), were involved in two great races, both of which they won in 10:01:21. Swapping places constantly with "Jindy Jokers" until Paul Cuthbert's decisive long run/long ride combo gave them a large enough lead, the KAOS crew took the T12 Mixed from the local team's 10:04:29 by a mere 3 minutes. Their other race was for fastest T12 team outright against the 1st placed T12 Open team, "Geese" (10:01:57). Powerful paddling from Geese's Greg Dolgopolov put them into the lead at the last transition. only for Ella Curthbert to catch Greg on the final run into Banjo Patterson Park and win the T12 Division by 36 seconds.
"Get Nicked" were the next T12 Mixed team in 10:18:12 from the impressive "Obie Crew" in 10:27:01, who had led the T12s for most of the day. "Chuggin'n Chafin'" came 2nd in the T12 Open in 10:38:22 from "Puffins" in 11:09:48.
Our gratitude to all who helped make this gathering such a memorable day: to June Weston for allowing us to ride through her property; to Les Threlfo and the Volunteer Marine Rescue for on-water safety and support; to Craig Stonestreet, Paul Gardiner and their eager team of volunteers for maintaining and enhancing the amazing network of tracks that form the MTB 1 course (and to Paul for sweeping all 3 MTB courses on the day); to Doug Chatten for medical support; to the ever-helpful Andrew Miller and the staff of Kosciuszko National Park HQ; to Soren, Tim, William and Kelly for paddle support on the 3 swim courses; to Snowy Hydro for permission to stage the race on their lake and land; to Snowy River Shire Council for permits, road signage and assistance; the NSW Police (Queanbeyan); NSW RMS for a Road Occupancy Licence for the MTB 3 course and an Aquatic Licence for the water-based legs; to Triathlon NSW for sanctioning the event; and last but not least to members and friends of the Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team of Australia, New Zealand and Mongolia for their sleepless service.
Enjoy these superb photos from a memorable day.
See you next year!