There is no more comprehensive tour of Canberra than the Sri Chinmoy Triple-Triathlon. If you complete the whole course, you have seen and experienced a full panoply of views, angles, environs, aspects, perspectives and panoramas of this wonderful living space that is at once capital city and natural playground. If you are fortunate to be graced with a day such as shone for the 21st staging of this epic event, you will have the journey of a lifetime.
Michael Brennan loves the Triple-Tri and doesn’t mind letting people know: his infectious enthusiasm for this race has helped buoy participation and excitement in recent times. After two years where some superb athletes have covered the course even faster than he has, it was a thrill for all involved with the event to witness Michael win the race solo – and fittingly, in a world-class Personal Best of 10:54:24. Michael tackled the first swim as though his life depended on it, leading out of the water by 6 minutes, and never looked back. Physical excellence seems a secondary outcome for this athlete to whom the joy of complete self-offering to the course and the race transcends all personal ambition.
Aston Duncan had hardly ridden a mountain bike prior to this race, and to take second place in 12:34:17 was testimony to both extraordinary fitness and a deep and tremendous willpower. Due to the small field, most of the solo competitors hardly saw each other in the course of the day, relying on their own inner momentum as well as the company of the occasional team. Next home came Craig Johnstone, extremely happy to conquer the course in 13:48:14; followed by Kevin Miller in fading light but bright victory of 15:18:34. Jon Schol didn’t have everything his own way in this long day, and was both tenacious and humble in overcoming all obstacles to take out the Solo Male 50 and Over category in 15:36:02.
Melissa Clarke is another first-time Triple-Tri-er, learning the hard way just how challenging this journey can be. Over the years, many have toed the starting line yet not completed the course. Despite hitting numerous obstinate “walls” after 10 hours, Melissa battled her way to a wonderfully satisfying finish in 15:38:11, bringing tremendous inspiration to all who were fortunate to see her arrive home.
A last-minute change of venue for the first swim in Lake Ginninderra meant the course for this leg was a little shorter than advertised: while this was compensated by the ensuing bike leg being a few kilometres longer, it unfortunately meant that the “record” times swum for this leg could not be officially recognised.
The Triple-Tri is a coming together of spirit and community. During the second mountain bike leg, a group of competitors encountered a member of the public who had an unfortunate fall from the mountain bike. Surrendering the times and chances of their respective teams, four contestants spent 50 minutes helping the injured rider until an ambulance could reach the scene. Our gratitude, admiration and respect to those who put aside their own interests to help another in need: your spontaneous kindness, concern, sacrifice and generosity inspired a wave of goodwill and compassion across the entire field: your example shines as bright as any winner ever could.
Outstanding team performance of the day again went to the elite combination of “On The Radar” (Jarrod Lee, Matt McAuliffe, Martin Dent, Emma Gillingham, Warren Wood, Aaron Farlow, Rob Allen & Craig Benson), whose overall time of 8:17:22 was a full one hour ahead of the next fastest team on the day, and only 3 minutes shy of the record for an Open Team of 4-9 held by “The Team With No Name” from 2004 – though if the first swim had not had to be moved and hence the first bike course had been the “correct” distance, perhaps this long-held record might have been toppled today…
In the course of the day, “On The Radar” also amazingly claimed 4 leg course records. Paul Crake used to hold the records for all 3 run legs, and though Martin Dent has in recent years eclipsed Paul’s times for the 2nd and 3rd run legs, Paul’s incredible 1:12 for the run over Mts Majura and Ainslie had stood since 2000 … until today when Martin Dent blitzed this challenging 18km in a phenomenal 1:11:11. Martin then tagged Emma Gillingham who likewise put paid to a long standing record in the Lake Burley Griffin swim with her new stratospheric mark of 42:08. Jarrod Lee was denied a record in the first swim due to the short course; however his awesome performance of 13:37 in Lake Tuggeranong left spectators gasping. He then tagged his rider, Rob Allen, who took off with such fire and inspiration that the One-Hour barrier for the 3rd bike leg was finally shattered; Rob’s sensational ride of 59:53 has taken this leg into another dimension.
Two overall course records were claimed among the older teams divisions by the “Old Hack Remnants Mark II” (Alex Gosman, Peter Igor-Taylor, Peter Clarke, Trevor Jacobs and Nathan Carroll) whose 11:15:00 beat their own record from last year for the Open Team of 4-9 (All Over 60). The other record to fall was in the Mixed Team of 4-9 (All Over 50), with “Not Over The Hill Yet” (Jill Pettifer, Martin McGready, Terry Withers, Richard Haines and Jeff Grey) who turned in a wonderful display to set a superb new best time of 10:18:29.
Custom-made Triple-Tri ensemble “Stuff The Puffs” (Ben Buchler, Dave Osmond & Matthew Crane) took major honours in the competitive Open Teams of 3 in 9:18:43; with the classy “One of Each, Thanks” (Mark Hareb, Richard Smyth & Peter Wilson) coming next in 9:43:05; and “Krusty’s Crew” (Russell Crockford, Andrew Bryant & Jason Martin) rounding out the podium placings with 10:04:49.
In the All-Female Teams of 3, “Chai Tea Girls” (Niki Hale, Claire Aubrey & Sherston Sheridan) took line honours with an impressive 11:47:22. Special mention to 2nd place “Triple Treat” (Sally Parker, Leanne Wilkinson and Katrina Cousins), whose rider was one of those who rendered assistance to the injured rider in MTB2. 3rd place was taken by “Los Tres Chivitos” (Simone Howland, Alina McMaster & Rachel Venn) who raced with great enthusiasm to record 13:28:21.
The Mixed Teams of 3 was won convincingly in a most impressive 9:38:51 by “Svendborg” (Jacqui & Ben Allen, with Murray Smith), a combination in which each member completed one swim, one ride and one run – a staggered triathlon each. “Wild Chaos” (Carla & Simon Wolnizer, with Lachlan Oakes) came in 2nd in 10:43:02; from “Both Ends” (Paura Birks, Troy Reddick & Jason McCrae) with 10:44:55.
In the wake of “On The Radar”, the race in the Open Teams of 4-9 was for second place, the prize taken at the end of the day in 9:39:27 by the venerable “Aviator’s Beach Club” (Dave Hayes, James Meadley, Daniel Redman, Pete Hansen, Andy Thomas, Sean Davis & Jordan Kelly) [editor’s note: the term “venerable” is used in this context in reference not to age, but to nobility]; followed by the evergreen Goulburn gathering of “Giant 440 Woody’s 4 Pete” (Rod Smith, Rodney McWhirter, Jaemin Fazer, Andrew Dawes, Andrew & Jacueline Oberg, Lori McWhirter, Michael Beard & Stefan Hese) in a spirited 9:48:27. Not content to just race with their younger compatriots (how are the residents of Goulburn called – Goulburnians??), some of the more venerable [editor’s note: here the term is used to refer to age] members doubled up to form an All-Over 50s Open Team, “The Buzz Lightyears” (Angus Taylor, Kerry Baxter, Mark Stutchbury, Rodney McWhirter, Andrew Dawes & Rodney Smith) which impressively took out their category in 11:02:29.
The All-Female Teams of 4-9 was won by “Triple Distilled” (Gabrielle Ho, Jessica Bolton, Isabella Comfort, Michelle Welch, Hayley Achurch, Rosa Bishop, Aine Buckley, Emma Johnson & Keira Doherty) in a sold showing of 12:30:02; just ahead of the 4-person 2nd placed “3 Souths and a North” (Sue Bowden, Sam Rampant, Keri Vaughan & Keri Muir) with 12:41:20; and “Ladies Who Tri 2.0” (Aoife Farmer, Lisa Counsell, Mal Karunaarachchi, Lauren Hendricks & Stephanie Way) rounding out the podium placings in 12:59:33. The All-Female Teams of 4-9 (All Over 50) went to “Fabulous Fifty-something Female FIT Team” (Narelle Patrick, Miche Hodgetts, Sarah Rainbow, Petrina Quinn, Rosemary Robinson, Geraldine Cusack, Nerida Clarke, Belinda Robinson & Robyn McClelland) in 14:42:17; though they crossed the line only after the fabulous finish of the first of the All-Female Teams of 4-9 (All Over 60) of “Tri again W60s” (Margaret Hadfield, Jean Douglass, Sue Archer, Clare Wall, Peggy Douglass, Kathy Sims, Judith Norris, Connie Clement and Carol Baird) who blazed to glory in 14:01:58.
“JT Multisport” (Grace & Ellie Hoitink, Chris Mutton, Wayne Corlis, Joseph Pascall, James Thorpe, Myles Wood, Angela Ballerini & Yoann Colin) took out the Mixed Teams of 4-9 in a slick 9:31:02; after a close day of racing with the lead swapping numerous times with eventual 2nd placed “Magpie Magnets” (Luke Kay, Michelle Cooper, Jen Davis, Matt Georgeson & Natalie Wood) in 9:38:26. 3rd placing was taken by “Team Driscoll” (Rachael McAllister, Blake Nielson, Tom Driscoll, Georgia Holtsbaum & Lauryn Brown) in 10:33:18.
Heartfelt thank yous to all involved in staging this epic adventure: to Sports Medicine Australia for providing medical assistance throughout the long day; to Gai Webster and Triathlon ACT for technical support and advice; to Richard Smyth and Andrew Oberg for helping re-design the 1st and 3rd MTB courses; to the YMCA Sailing Club, Canberra Canoe Club and Nic Bendeli for on-water assistance; to Paul Mahoney and his friend Gavin for sweeping all 3 run legs; and to volunteer helpers from the Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team from Auckland, Taupo, Perth, Brisbane, Torquay, Melbourne and Canberra as well as guests from Russia, Mongolia and Korea.