Many course records were broken at the Sri Chinmoy Multi-Sport Classic adventure race. That was only to be expected: the weather was good (save for a few strong afternoon breezes), the field included some renowned athletes. and most of all, it was an inaugural event. Organised by the Canberra division of the Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team, the spectacular environs of Jindabyne provided a change from the familiar terrain of Canberra. Sixty-eight teams and individual athletes followed the organisers to their latest challenge: three swims of between 1km and 2.5km in Lake Jindabyne; three paddles of 5.5km to 9.5km across the lake; three off-road bicycle legs of varying difficulty, between 9km and 30km; and three runs (mainly cross-country) of between 5km and 12.5km. As well as SCMT members, the event was staffed by volunteers from the local community, who assistance helped to make the event a great success.
The star performers in the Solo Male category were Albury athletes (and good friends) Jody Zerbst (left) and Jeremy Ross. Jody, who won the Off-Road course at the Sri Chinmoy Triathlon Festival two weeks earlier, will be best man at Jeremy's wedding later this year. He proved to be best man in the Classic as well, crossing the line in 7:53:52. This may be an inaugural event, but this course record might well remain for years to come. Jody beat his friend across the line by 22 minutes.
Both Jody and Jeremy (who finished second in 8:15:16) were comfortably ahead of all teams. The first team, the four-man "Beat Kepos," had a time of 8:27:29 (and comfortably lived up to their team name, beating their arch-rivals "Team Kepos"- a four-person mixed team- by eight minutes).
Jason Chalker- course record holder of the Sri Chinmoy Triple-Triathlon- found his Achilles' heel with a new discipline: paddling. This was the world's first Sri Chinmoy race to include paddling, and Jason was one of the late entrants, mainly as he had never seriously paddled a kayak until a week before the race! But his reputation is secure, as his incredible swimming, cycling and running prowess made up for the slow kayak legs. Though he couldn't catch up with the superfit (and paddle-ready) pair from Albury, he was the third soloist home, in a time of 8:33:34. Receiving his trophy, he joked (?) that the race could be even better if someone took out the three paddle legs.
The kayak proved no problem for another former Triple-Triathlon winner, Alina McMaster- a former cross-country skier, a multi-sports addict, and an experienced paddler. Alina might recently have called herself"jack of all trades, master of none," but she showed enough mastery to comfortably win the Solo Female category, crossing the finish line in 10:06:57. Second was Zoe King of Manly in 10:21:50, followed by another former Triple-Tri winner, Julie Quinn in 10:59:32.
Despite early weather reports predicting wet and overcast conitions, it proved to be a nearly perfect day for the race. Only the paddlers who found themselves facing choppy afternoon waters, could have wished for better weather. For all the challenges along the way, the athletes at the finish line were smiling, at the end of an enjoyable day.
Nobody demonstrated that better than Sophie Giles, one of four solo athletes who had come all the way from Western Australia for the event. After the first few legs, Sophie had moved into last place- yet officials from every transition swapped stories with each other about her cheerfulness, even after several hours. She finally crossed the finish line in 12:24:31. Although she was the last finisher (missing her fellow athletes, the awards ceremony, even the lucky door prize!), many athletes and spectators had stayed just to cheer her on. As she crossed the line, and was immediately handed her trophy (she placed sixth of the solo women), she showed the spectators that her good spirits had not disappeared. Could anyone who takes the challenge of the Multi-Sport Classic, and succeeds, possibly be anything less than a champion?