Sri Chinmoy Triathlon Festival Race Report
Canberra, October 25-26 2008: Spring has been kind to Canberra this year, gently warming the lake and greening the grass with an eager smile of newness. This was the perfect time to return to Yarralumla Bay, the spiritual home of triathlon in the ACT...
The clear water (yes, you could even see the bottom!), fresh dancing leaves on the silver birch trees, singing birds and a playful breeze were calling all to join this celebration of life. And what better way to celebrate than to swim, ride and run?
For sheer enthusiasm and glee, none can match the athletes of the opening event. Formerly held on a Friday during school hours, for the first time the Sri Chinmoy Junior Joyathon (for Under 13s) was the first of a suite of 3 races on Saturday afternoon.
Freya Brent was the outstanding solo competitor in the 80 metre swim/3.5 km cycle/800 metre run, placing 4th outright and winning her division by a large margin, while Eliza Burton and Annika Morling were clear winners in the Girls Under 9 and 9-10 categories respectively. Results were closer in the boys' races, which saw Tom Agnew, Corey Benham and Nick de Crespigny posting the fastest times in their categories.
The Sri Chinmoy Joyathon (Open) followed hard on the heels of the kids' race, over an extended version of the same course- 200 metre swim, 7 km cycle and 2 km run. Two outstanding athletes dominated this event- Belinda Soszyn won the women's race outright, as well as her category 50-59; while John Hovius had a handy margin in the men's. Both athletes were using the Joyathon as a warm-up for the Sprint Triathlon right after- John would also race the 'Classic' Tri the next morning. Conor Sproule and Maggie Elmitt took the honours in the Under 17 boys and girls, both also finishing among the top 7 outright.
The Sri Chinmoy Sprint Triathlon (500/21/5) has an illustrious history, with former winners including Greg Welch and Michellie Jones. Few have performed better over this course, especially this early in the season, than Michelle Wu and Aaron Farlow today, winners by 5 minutes and 3 minutes respectively.
Outstanding performances in the women's age groups included up-and-coming star Bonnie Frankcom (Under 20), and reviving stars Raeleigh Rogers (40-49) and Belinda Soszyn (50-59). Among the men's age groups, Jesse Featonby (Under 20) , Anthony Marchesani (40-49), Mark Fountain (50-59) and John Rogers (60-69) joined John Hovius (30-39 and backing up from his win in the Joyathon) on the podium. The loudest and longest cheer of the day was reserved for Geoff Llewellyn (70+), the only triathlete who participated in the first-ever Sri Chinmoy Triathlon here at Yarralumla Bay in 1984- and is still going strong.
A serene lake greeted the athletes of the Sri Chinmoy Peace Triathlon for their 7 am start on Sunday. This race has returned to its traditional Long-Course format (2.2/80/20) after a few years over a longer distance. One and a half hours later, the Sri Chinmoy 'Classic' Tri got under way over the standard Olympic distance- a larger field, but still a calm atmosphere prevailing over Yarralumla Bay.
Paul O'Doherty (right) and Kat Baker were commanding winners in the Sri Chinmoy Peace Triathlon, each recording the fastest split times for all of their legs- swim, bike and run. Kat placed 3rd outright in a fine all-round performance. Continuing the strong Irish showing, Eoin Reville took out the 20-29 men's category, and Martin Dowson the 40-49s. Laura Marshall (30-39) and Nicole Rattenbury (40-49) won the other women's age groups. Special mention to Jesse Mortensen who travelled all the way from Kununurra to participate in the race only for his bike to break down before the race start. Undaunted, he rode 80 km on a borrowed women's bike and finished strongly.
Michael Cupitt (left) and Richie Lewis came out of the water together in the Sri Chinmoy 'Classic' Tri, though Michael built a 2-minute lead over the 40 km bike leg. Richie fought back in the 10 km run, closing the gap to a mere 23 seconds by the finish. The pair had nearly a 9-minute buffer over the next competitor, Under-20s winner Lindsay Wall. Other men's category winners were Corey Bacon (30-39), the hugely popular Gary Rolfe (40-49), the South Coast's Martin Tomasini (50-59), Arthur Huxtable (60-69) and the ever-smiling Lachlan Lewis (70+).
Rebecca Wiasak was racing the Olympic distance for the first time, and found it very much to her liking, finishing well clear of the women's field despite mechanical problems on the bike leg. Joining Rebecca amongst the women's age group winners were Ady Elmitt (Under 20), Jodie Swan (30-39), Dot Foster (40-49) and Helen Sturman (50-59).
Congratulations to all finishers in the 26th Sri Chinmoy Triathlon Festival. Conditions were perfect, the spirit amongst the participants cheerful and friendly throughout, with smiles abounding at the finish line.
Thanks to all involved for a memorable weekend of triathlon!
Full results for all races are now published. A photo album will follow in a few days.
We look forward to your company for the Sri Chinmoy Triple-Triathlon in and around Canberra in 3 weeks' time, on Sunday 16 November 2008.