For participants, helpers, supporters and onlookers, the Sri Chinmoy Multi-Sport Classic is a stage on which shines our better nature: a day of epic competition; intense personal battles; of inner and outer struggle; of physical, emotional and mental triumphs; of selfless sacrifices; unexpected challenges, underlying exuberance and – ultimately – unmitigated exhilaration. It is the spirit of life laid bare, grasped, embraced and celebrated.
To quote from last year’s race report: “The race among the Solo Males proved to be an epic …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… Tim drew away from Klayten Smith 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.”
For this year’s report, I was tempted to cut and paste from 2016, amending only a few crucial details: just as it was Tim’s superior paddling which won the race last year, so it was Klayten’s much improved paddling – coupled with his already superb prowess in other disciplines – which earned him a famous victory in 2017. En route though, an unparalleled drama unfolded. Inspiration is a powerful force: in the true spirit of transcendence, it is possible that without Tim’s superlative performance last year, Klayten might not have had such a lofty goal to inspire him to discover just what he is capable of. Tim collected a new leg record for solo athletes of 32:34 for the challenging 1st mountain bike and was clearly in rare form. His finish time of 9:30:28 eclipsed his own course record (again) by 11 minutes, racing dauntlessly to the very finish line, never faltering in his lion-hearted purpose. Yet Klayten was today racing in another, even more rarefied realm: his 9:21:37 setting a stratospheric standard for this event. Almost collapsing upon crossing the finish line, Klayten’s face and whole being were witness to a supreme offering of body, life-energy, mind, heart and soul to a higher goal. We were privileged to witness such a contest unfold throughout an engrossing day; an inspiring and thrilling master class of athleticism, courage, dedication, discipline, sacrifice and soaring aspiration from two Himalayan athletes.
Tom Brazier and Paul Cuthbert are among Australia’s top ultra-distance trail runners, both having previously won the Sri Chinmoy Canberra Trail Ultra. Notwithstanding some previous experience with adventure racing, both were entering uncharted territory by even contemplating this event: to finish 3rd and 4th in the Solo category was an outstanding day out from each of these champions. The ebullient Geoff Breese from Wagga Wagga, owner of the Over 50’s course record for Canberra’s Sri Chinmoy Triple-Triathlon, ventured to Jindabyne for the first time and had a superb race, finishing in 12:25:26, tussling with age group course record-holder Jon Schol throughout until Jon was forced to withdraw at Creel Bay. The other soloist, Matthew Sheather, found himself suffering from the cold and wisely withdrew from the fray after the second paddle leg: an experience he plans to build on in preparation for another campaign to this race next year.
The only overall teams course record to be set this year was a wondrous 11:52:39 by the “Go Go Girls Over 60” – the indefatigable team of Sue Archer along with sisters Helen, Jean and Peggy Douglass. Precisely 10 years after they dazzled Jindabyne with their “Go Go Girls 50+” record in 2007, these sprightly girls staged another world-class display to leave us at once humbled and speechless. We eagerly await their return for many years more!
With each passing year, the individual leg records become more and more difficult to better, yet 2017 saw some outstanding efforts that accomplished just that: Ryan Cross blitzing the 1st run leg in 25:04; Zoe Cuthbert beating almost all of the men on the technical 1st MTB course in 33:36; and Vanessa Knee burning up the 2nd MTB route in 29:02. Special mention to Tom Fisher, who missed the MTB2 record of 24:27, by a mere one second.
The Jindabyne ensemble of “Splash, Dash, Crash and Smash” (Katrina Nicholl, Sue Machin, Vanessa Knee and Cath Bylett) took out the T4 Female category in 11:00:06 – hopefully next year they can shave off that extra 7 seconds to come home in under 11 hours. Next all-female team of 4 was “Girl power” (Nicolee Martin, Susie Sprague, Claire Edwards and Litsa Polygerinos) in 11:17:07.
Leading the field throughout the day was an enthralling and – at least for us spectators, highly entertaining – duel between two T4 Open teams: the foursome of David Peedom, Rohan Essex, David and Andrew Griffin of “Once were Intact” battling with the pair of “Fish and the Cro” – Ryan Cross and Brad Fisher. The lead swapped repeatedly throughout the day, though “Fish and the Cro” would seem to have an unassailable lead at Creel Bay of 5 minutes with only 2 legs remaining … yet the final paddle leg has proven the Waterloo of many a campaign, with this year no exception. “Once were Intact” seized their opportunity to press home and take line honours in 8:20:32 ahead of “Fish and the Cro” in 8:29:46 and another impressive pairing of “TRI-X Performance” (Tom Fisher and John Morton) in 8:58:55.
The latest incarnation of Steve Hanley’s “32 Flavours”, teaming with daughter-father combo of Millie and Ron Brent, cruised home to take out the T4 Mixed category in 10:18:02; from 2nd placed “NFR” (Jenna Chiffey, Dan Smith, Tristyn Lowe and Simon Plum) in 10:30:28; while completing the podium in this category were “Must Have Fun” (Katie Binstock, Joe Andrews, Emma Johnson and Rebecca Thomson) in 10:35:18 – notably a team in which females completed 9 of the 12 legs.
“Aviator’s Beach Club” – one of the famous team names returning to this epic event – comprising Dave Hayes, Shane Lund, Andrew Thomas, Richard Palmer, Sean Davis and Peter Hansen, took out the T12 Open category in an impressive 9:15:58, after an enthralling day’s racing with 3 other teams: “Knerds” (Julie, Miles & Chris Waring, Andrew Garvie, & Howard Roby) finished in 9:28:43; while 3rd place ended up as almost a sprint finish between “United Nations 3” (Jacques Lepron, Jonathan Schaffer, Chris Buchanan, Christian de la Rica & David Roberts) in 9:35:02 from “Geese” (Elise Stewart, Greg Dolgopolov, Michael Hotchkiss, Rob Watson & David Griffith) who just missed out on the podium with a 4th placed 9:35:20.
The T12 Mixed category was won by “South Coasters” (Jana Kuznik, Mark & Julie Moore, Mike, McKenzie, Paul, Clayton & Beck O’Brien) in 9:46:59; 2nd place went to “Stuffed Toys and Stuffed Parents” (Gary Rolfe, Mark McDonald, Amanda & Matt Koerber, Rob Hayes, Danielle Winslow, David Simpfendorfer, Melanie Simpson & Janet Street) in 10:20:36; and 3rd place to “Kaos” (Cassia, Saul & Pia Cunningham, Mike & Jesse Dunlop, Zoe & Ella Cuthbert and Adrienne Nicotra) in 11:15:01.
Our award for best team name this year goes to “The Abominable Slow-Men” :-)
Immense gratitude to Les Threlfo and his tireless team from the Jindabyne Volunteer Marine Rescue, who had to step up when the National Parks barge broke down mid-ferry service to and from Creel Bay, coinciding with the onset of the storm; Rohan Kennedy the medic; Paul Gardiner of Rolling Ground for sweeping all 3 MTB legs; Soren, Tim & Matt for paddle support on the 3 swim courses; June Weston for graciously allowing us to ride across her land; to Andrew Miller and the staff of Kosciuszko National Park; staff of Snowy Hydro, Showy Monaro Shire Council, NSW RMS, Queanbeyan Police, and volunteer helpers from the Sri Chinmoy Centres of Chicago, Ulaanbaatar, Christchurch, Auckland, Brisbane, Melbourne, Shepparton and Canberra.