The Sri Chinmoy Googong Challenge is one of the more taxing events on the calendar. On the one hand, the ruggedness of the terrain has ensured a rare stretch of unspoilt bushland, a peaceful and rejuvenating haven of silence, kangaroos, wombats and ubiquitous birdlife. Yet the same ruggedness makes for an especially challenging course profile: whoever put those hills there, really meant business!
The day belonged to the athletes who first took in their stride an unexpected change of plan in the paddle leg with good cheer, calm resolve and a sense of adventure; and then brought their very best heart and efforts to the bike and run courses which, in the case of the Long Course, pose some serious challenges of strength, stamina and willpower.
Several course records were broken for individual legs, especially in the Short Course. Elizabeth Stephens had a wonderful race, setting new Solo course records for the 1st Run (14:18) and Bike (44:12) en route to her 1:59:47. Al Boyle was a commanding winner in the Men's race, taking the fastest paddle and bike splits and crossing the line in 1:40:25. Kim Houghton won the Men Over 50 category in 1:54:37; while Keri Vaughan took out the Women Over 50s in 2:27:22. "Glenn and the Angels" edged out "The Dream Team" in the Mixed Team category in 1:58:07; "Victorious secret" were the 1st All-Female Team home in 2:37:48. In the Teams, Sukhajata Cranfield (13:23) and Robina Steele (16:11) each set new course records for the 1st Run; and Rowan Beggs-French smashed the course best time for the Bike leg with his 31:20.
In the Long Course race, Kelby Murray from Botswana set up his victory from the paddle leg and a commanding final run, with runner-up Ray Neill taking out the fastest Bike leg of the day. Nienke Oos was marvellous, seeming to get stronger as the day progressed, winning in 4:35:47 (despite Katrina Skellern setting a new record for the fastest 1st Run by a Solo female). Mark Varvazovsky soldiered on magnificently to take out the Men Over 50s in 5:34:39; while the "Burns Bilbys" of Spencer, Tim, Michelle and Callum strode home in 4:42:58 to take out the Mixed Team division.
Full results are published, along with a photo album from the course. Congratulations to all involved in a magnificent day!