Thumbing through race reports from years of yore, the main challenge to the reporters seems to have been finding words to describe the horrible conditions, both in the water and on land for the helpers. Driving rain, shivering cold, howling wind, towering waves – all are vividly portrayed … Well, the words are quite simple to describe today’s scene – still, calm, mild, serene … in one word – perfect.
A sure sign of the ideal weather, along with the cheery mood, the air of general satisfaction and perhaps also the hot soup, juicy watermelon and baked goodies at the food marquee, was the size of the crowd who stayed around till well after the final swimmer touched dry land.
With a deluge of fresh rain inundating the lake in the past week, the water was perhaps at its clearest in years. A gentle mist shrouded the surface until the start command, at which point the mist winged away, the flotilla of support kayaks eased forward, keeping their swimmer-charges in sight as a mother cow shepherds her calf.
While Julie Bowman wore a wetsuit and hence didn’t qualify for an “official” award, hers was nevertheless an outstanding achievement, from the Female 50-59 category, to cross the line first in an all-comers 10km race. Julie also set a new record for her category – 2:29:08.
Outright winner of the official “no wetsuit” race was another from the 50-59 category – Michael Pranckl has always been among the trophies and medals in this event, but never before taken home the main prize, his 2:34:24 best on the day and just reward for years of dedicated training.
Everyone who completes 10km in the water is a winner and hero, and it’s notable that every single starter in today’s race, also finished – zero swimmers withdrew after the start. Following are a few performers who demand special mention:
Graeme Wolfenden was pulled from the water at T3 last time around with hypothermia, and dedicated himself to returning and making good that extra distance. Not only did Graeme return and finish the job, he smashed the Male 70 and Over race record with his 3:02:34.
Josephine Casey won the women’s race with a fine 2:37:14; ahead of Male Under 50 winner Mark Hassall in 2:40:47. Gilly Lynch came from Sydney to win the F50-59 in a fine 3:01:47; while one of the best contested categories was the Male 60-69, won eventually by Gary Ullmann in an impressive 2:52:36.
Among those wearing wetsuits, Janet Gorst deserves special credit for her 3:18:01, winning her F60-69 category. Raquel Holgado was 1st FU50 with 3:29:48; Chris Allison 1st in the MU50 with 2:46:11; and Steven Boyt 1st in the M50-59s in 2:51:18.
The leading All-Male team (and fastest completed 10km time) was “The Wet Apostles” (Daniel and Oliver Robinson, Cameron Dodd and Nicholas Lamond) in 2:24:24. Best All-Female team was “Catch and Release” (Megan O’Neill Johnston, Samantha Morley, Rebecca Lannin and Monica Lindemann) with 3:14:05; while “JTM Relay Team” (Gwenala La Lu and Andrew Walton) took home the main prize in the Mixed Team division with their 2:41:12.