Family is everything...
The Sri Chinmoy Triple-Triathlon was conceived as a celebration of the natural beauty and auspicious design of Canberra as the ultimate urban setting for the exploration and fulfilment of a multi-dimensional life, a consummate blend of athletic and aesthetic.
Yet over the years, the Sri Chinmoy Triple-Triathlon has embodied and revealed something much deeper of Canberra: its heart of humanity and soul of community. This heart and soul shine through the interplay of inspiration, aspiration, appreciation, service, sacrifice and mutual self-giving which permeate and unite the Triple-Tri family. The event itself is the stage on which innumerable dramas unfold; the backdrop against which heroic stories are told; the refrain of a song with a thousand varied verses. While the athletes take top billing, the list of credits of all involved is long, rich and enthralling, embracing all strata of Canberra society, all manner of general and specialised roles, all types of characters and personae. Each is unique, each is essential, each is gold.
At awards ceremonies, trophy-winners invariably thank their family, crew, event organisers, course markers and volunteers – and rightly so. At the same time, none of these supporting actors would have any role to play without the athletes themselves. And each of them, if they were to give their own speeches, would have their own lists of those without whose support and inspiration, their own roles could not have been played. Carrying all from within is an irrepressible undercurrent of love, with outbursts of rippling joy – the characteristics of a family, ready at once to cry and smile together, exulting in each others’ victories, suffering in each other’s defeats, forging together something far greater than any and all of us, ever-deeper, intangible and unknowable; an ever-new, ever-transcending destination. Perhaps this is why some Canberra citizens otherwise unconnected with the race, appear each year at random transition points, not just to watch but to feel, absorb, enjoy and be uplifted.
The female and male solo winners this year are each formidable athletes with outstanding credentials; each first-timer contenders at the Sri Chinmoy Triple-Triathlon; and each approached the race with lofty goals, outrageous daring, iron wills and huge hearts.
To hear that a solo woman might complete the gruelling Triple-Tri course in 11 hours would have been well-nigh unbelievable. To watch Penny Slater in motion, to realise that she would finish in 11 hours seemed inevitable. Penny is a superb athlete, a focussed competitor and a humble, gracious champion. Racing head-to-head through the first triathlon with another stellar debutant, Monique De Abreu, it became clear early on, that the phenomenal solo women’s record of Julie Quinn – renowned as Queen of the Triple-Tri – would be under threat. With Monique being forced to withdraw after the long Lake Burley Griffin swim (Monique showed enough to give notice that her Triple-Tri day is fast ripening on the tree, and will definitely arrive in the not-too-distant future…), Penny did not bat an eye to continue her unwavering path to glory. Crossing the line in a mind-boggling 11:01:00, Penny scythed almost exactly one hour from a revered course record – smiling – finishing a mere 6 minutes adrift of one of the legends of Triple-Tri lore, Klayten Smith. Only a handful of elite men have dipped under 11 hours in 25 years of this race: in one beautiful, complete and compelling fairy-tale day, Penny Slater has rewritten the record books and reconfigured our understanding of potential, establishing a whole new wing in the Palace of the Possible.
Trent Dawson is another Canberra gentleman-athlete of consistently high achievements, foremost in the realm of Ironman Triathlon. Without any significant competitions in his accustomed field of excellence looming on horizon, and not being one to retreat into hibernation, Trent embraced a new challenge on his very doorstep – the Sri Chinmoy Triple-Triathlon. One significant hurdle would be Trent’s negligible experience on a mountain bike. Purchasing a mountain bike just 2 months before race day, Trent set about pursuing not just the goal of finishing this Herculean journey; he dreamt, visualised and planned exactly what it might take to topple the invincible solo men’s course record. Such courage, conviction and fearlessness in mind, body and heart would power Trent to one of the most impressive solo debuts in all the Triple-Tri annals – a supremely controlled, virtuoso performance yielding a daunting finishing time of 10:46:58. With improved skills on the mountain bike and a few fewer spills, that record may yet be in Trent’s sights…
With numerous other responsibilities this year, including the birth of their second child just 9 weeks ago – and not having raced at all since last year’s Triple-Tri – Klayten Smith entered the event with the least training of any of his Triple-Tri forays. Buoyed by the support of friend-and-rival Michael Brennan (recovering from a recent fracture), Klayten followed his muscle-mind-heart-and-soul memory to fashion a hugely impressive and deeply satisfying 2nd placed 10:55:49. Significantly, Klayten made up 13 minutes on Trent’s lead over the second half of the course. Perhaps if there had been another few legs…?
Though the day had descended into gloom, the scene was brightest, with some of the loudest and longest cheers when Beth Bowen – a few weeks shy of her 50th birthday – realised a long-cherished dream of completing the Sri Chinmoy Triple-Triathlon, in an impressive 15:35:49. The irrepressible grins and flowing tears awaiting her at the finish spoke eloquently of long hours days months of dreaming training sacrifice dedication. The same mixture of elation and pain, agony and ecstasy were writ large across the faces of each of the unique hero-winners of this epic race, each with his and her own deeply personal yet universal story of glory – Ian Rayson, Scott Donaldson, Ironman super-legend and Winner of the Solo Male Over 50 category, John Hill (13:48:58), Anthony Newman, Mark Hanover, Mark Ware, Ken Rankin, Simon Lauer, Trent Craven, Adam Mort and the amazing Paul Amidy, who soldiered on even when there appeared zero fuel in the tank through the pit of the final run course, to bring home the field in 16:07:55.
TEAMS OF 3 (or 2)
Outstanding team performance of the day was presented by “Shoklo’s Nifty Fifty M50 MkII”, with Pete Thorley, Martin McGready and Jeff Grey aiming to dismantle one of the longest-standing records of the Triple-Tri, for Open Team All Over 50 held since 1999 by “Vintage Vets” (Terry Dixon – still racing in Triple-Tri teams today, Alan Anderson & Kent Williams). Mission successful – with a new and very sleek best time of 10:13:33. Special mention also to “I think we can do this” (Alex Gosman, Peter Igor-Taylor & Trevor Jacobs) who – even though entered in the Open Teams Over 50, are actually all over 60 – finished in 13:07:21.
“Stuff the Puffs” have been an established fixture at the Sri Chinmoy Triple-Triathlon for so many years, the origins of their name have slipped into obscurity. It all stemmed from a rivalry with a gun Victorian team in the late ‘90s, with a succession of names inspired by “The Puffy Puffcakes”. With the Victorian team consigned to dusty history tomes, no ensemble has garnered half as many team trophies at this event than “Stuff the Puffs”, represented this year by Ben Buchler, Dave Osmond and Michael Chapman. By the end of the first triathlon, they had established a lead which would only grow as the sun traversed its sky, to take 2020 line honours in 9:11:00. Next team home in the Open Teams of 3 was “DuRT” (Hugh Coppell, Oliver Murray & Tom Bartlett) in 9:53:07, who held another huge lead over 3rd placed “Wait for it, Wait for it, Wait” (Paul Quinn, Etienne Blunstein-Jones & Chris Weenink).
Katie Binstock, Stephanie Way & Lisa Counsell (“2 legs 2 wheels and a wetsuit”) didn’t need any competition in their T3 Female category, to post an impressive 12:44:45 in finishing well clear of most of the men’s and mixed teams.
“JT Multisport White” – Grace Hoitink, James Thorp & Tom Driscoll – carried the torch for the high-performing JT Multisport stable, taking the T3 Mixed category with a classy showing of 10:11:16, from the impressive “Triumvirate” of Emily Stacey, Perry Blackmore & Richard Smyth in 10:33:58, just edging out the fast-finishing “HMAS Friendship” ensemble of Murray Robertson, Jennifer Darmody & Ed De Carvalho with 10:37:18.
TEAMS OF 4-9
“Giant 440 Woodys – 4Pete” and “Aviator’s Beach Club” are two of the most regular and loyal teams at both the Sri Chinmoy Triple-Triathlon and Multi-Sport Classic in Jindabyne each year – and they staged a right royal battle on Sunday, with only about 40 seconds separating them at the finish line. The reliable Goulburn ensemble of Rod Smith, Michael Beard, Nathan Frazer, Andrew Dawes, Andrew Öberg, Jaemin Frazer, Lori & Rod McWhirter and Stefan Hesse held off the fast-finishing aviators (Dave Hayes, James Meadley, Daniel Redman, Pete Hansen, Andy Thomas, Sean Davis & Jordan Kelly) to just edge in under the 10 hour barrier and take the Open Teams of 9 category top award with 9:59:43, with 2nd place clocking 10:00:26. Right up with them throughout the day were another favourite local band: “Sport and Spinal Physio” (Josh Tait, Craig & Zoe Honeybrook, Martin Tait, Simon Davis and Imogen Chambers) claiming the remaining podium placing with 10:17:17.
“Campbell Girls” (Alicia Hetherington, Stephanie Boxall, Alida Cross & Raeleigh Rogers) showed that less can sometimes be more, to win the All-Female T4-9 with only 4 members, in a fine 12:34:59; from YAWILs (Young-Aged Women in Lycra) – comprising Megan Keil, Indira Shinn, Georgina Robinson, Lucy Skeldon, Tenaya King & Kate Boulder in 13:27:23. The aptly-named All Over-50 Female collection of “Tri-ing for unprecedented times” took out their division in the more-than-respectable time of 14:05:53. Congratulations to Polly Templeton, Simone Annis, Narelle Patrick, Leeanne Tennant, Rosemary Robinson, Geraldine Cusack, Elizabeth Lowe & Sarah Rainbow!
The largest category of the race is the T9 Mixed, with an always-varied and colourful array of combinations, attitudes and aptitudes with one constant uniting all – enthusiasm for the task! At the pointy end of the field, “The Tortoise and The Hare” (Wayne, Laura & Shaun Lewis, Hannah Walmsley, Alice Wallett, Brendan Johnston, Emily Ryan and Lily Anderson), were covering all bases and definitely left their tortoise at home as they cruised to victory in an arresting 9:48:30. “Results Racing” (Michelle Welch, James Adams, John & Anna McPherson, Michael Reed, Matthew Shadwell, Rob Mudford & Gavin Jeffries) came in next with 10:14:17; while “Team Keeping It Real” (Janelle Ahern, Josh Wilkinson, Nic Moyle, Pete Quinn, Steve Roberton & Teresa Wynter) took 3rd placing with an exemplary showing of 10:23:23. Special mention to the first ever Mixed Team of 9 All Over 70, “74 and Mixed”, who would have established a new course record for this category, but for an unfortunate fall resulting in a fracture for gun runner Susan Archer, for whom we wish a full and speedy recovery!
THANKS TO ALL
Our gratitude to each and every member of the Triple-Tri family, and to the greater Canberra community who either enjoy, admire and appreciate – or at least tolerate – our incursions into their space each year. In particular, we thank Ron Thompson, Commodore of the YMCA Sailing Club, boat drivers Jim Daly & Jonathan Muller and all their members, who have for many years provided on-water assistance for the Lake Burley Griffin swim leg, and whose clubhouse formed such an ideal locale for the finish of the event; to John Birch and members of the Canberra Canoe Club; to Emma and the Lake Ginninderra Sea Scouts; to staff of so many departments of ACT Government as well as the NCA; Triathlon ACT Acting Director Emily Stacey and technical officials, in particular Petra Lean and Peter Simpfendorfer; To Andrew Öberg for endless tweaks of the course maps and files, and Richard Smyth for refinements of the MTB oourses; to sweepers and marshals Ellie Barrett, Peter Fogarty, Cassandra Spencer, Jan Melton, Aimee Carter, Paul Mahoney, Geoff Barker, Tim Mather, Geoff Breese, Sally Thauvette, Connie Clement, Caroline Werner, Glenn Theakston, Damir Maksan, Joe Andrews, Nic Bendeli, Kerrie Vaughan; to medical support personnel Mike Corrigan, Rebekah Stamatis, Matthew Sainsbury & Simon Whitehead; to the Project Managers and workers of WSP and Complex Co, who made it possible for us to access and ride through the Namarag Construction site at Coppins Crossing on the second bike leg; to Russ Baker for countless years of technical support and whose customised, amazingly detailed results displays we use to this day; to My Rainbow-Dreams café and to members of the Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team from Mongolia, Perth, Brisbane, Sydney and Canberra.
Stay well and stay inspired, family!