ITU World Cross Triathlon Championships, Lake Crackenback NSW , Words and Pics by Peter Hepworth

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Last weekend we travelled to the Snowy Mountains in NSW for the ITU World Triathlon Champs, it was the first time the event had been held down under and the Event management team of in2Adventure did an amazing job of hosting this event. There were 26 countries represented with over 300 competitors racing in events that included a lake swim , mountain bike ride and trail run. The event held over 3 days catered for both Professionals and agegroup athletes.

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Thursday saw us all register and have an Australian Team meeting which included guest speakers Guy Andrew [surf Ironman legend] Courtney Atkinson [2 time olympic triathlete], Charlotte Mcshane [a recent 3rd place at the Elite Triathlon World champs] and Jenny Alcorn [age groupe triathlete legend and coach]. After our meeting and race briefing we joined in with all the athletes from around the world for a opening ceremony.

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Opening ceremony on the banks of Lake Jinderbyne.

We were treated with some fantastic weather on the banks of Lake Jynderbyne. Great night was had with local schools providing some entertainment and some Man from Snowy River inspired horse riders cracking there whips circling the crowd.

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Mack,Nathan,Peter and Virgini at the opening ceremony

Racing started Friday with the agegroup women getting under way at the Lake Crackenback resort. The lake had warmed up from the week before which the locals told us that it had actually snowed, so we were happy with warm temperatures for the 4 days we were there.

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We brought our own support crew.

Our shop sponsored athlete Virgini, had a great 2 lap swim to be out of the Lake in the top handful of athletes. She powered through the 2 lap mountain bike single track course.

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Virgini on her way to a Bronze medal in the river run.

The run consisted of 3 laps of a very technical run that included rock climbing , a tunnel and river run. The women were lead home by Kim Beckensale [45 to49 agegroup] who came in on 3 hours, a time that would of been competitive in the Elites a few days later. Virgini crossed the line totally exhausted and unsure of her placing, it took a long time to get confirmation that she had won a Bronze medal. She was congratulated immediately by her coach Renata Bucher who was watching on before she was to race in the Elite category. It was great to see so many women embrace this sport, its not for the faint hearted, but everyone who got to the finish line got presented a medal for finishing and no doubt had a feeling of great accomplishment.

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Some of the more technical bits on the ride course

We had 3 of us race from the shop in the men’s age group race on the Saturday morning, Nathan, Mack and myself. Perfect conditions greeted us at the start of the 1500m wetsuit swim.

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Great conditions for the swim leg.

The Lake Crackenback water had warmed up to around 17 deg, there were 5 waves separated by 2min gaps, so a good swim was critical once we started the 30km single track mtb ride to get a clear track. I managed a 7 min PB swim over the same course in February so all the cold outdoor pool swim sessions over winter became worth it.

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Nathan checking out the tunnel run the day before our race.

 

Onto the bike I came across Nathan who had started in the wave before me, it was great to ride together on a fun trail. The ride was technical enough where you had to pick the right place to grab a water bottle or Gel. The race was at 1200m altitude so pacing your self was important as was the fact that we were racing for 3 hours into the midday sun. We picked up a lot of slower riders and really started to get some rhythm riding the 2 laps.

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Elite Athlete Ben Allen powering through the river run.

Heading into the 10km trail run I knew I was in for a long run, I hadn’t done the training kms due to a torn calf earlier in the year, but this run wasnt about leg speed but pure strength as it was more of a tough Mudda course than a trail run.

Jacqui Slack bounding across the rocks to the finish.

Running over swing bridges, balancing on logs, climbing over rocks, running up rivers, loosing your shoes in muddy swamp lands were all on the 3 lap course. I was pretty pumped to have my family there to cheer me on as for the last 20 years I have been more than happy to be the spectator and cheer Celine on while she has been racing. For the last 12 months I have enjoyed getting fit and learning new skills with my swimming and I was really happy to finish 17th in my category.

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Peter crossing the finish line at the World Cross champs.

Next year I move up to another age group and look forward to many races against my training partners. The best thing about these World Champs was enjoying with athletes from our shop, Virgini ended up getting a Bronze medal with a really gutsy effort which left her totally exhausted at the finish line, Mack Clarkson who finish 5th in the super competitive 40 to 44 year age group and Nathan who did a 6 min PB from the trail race. I am already looking forward to racing back at this venue for the 2017 Aus champs in March.

 

Women’s Elite winner Flora Duffy

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Male Elite winner Ruzafa from Spain won his 3rd world title.

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What the winners were presented with…

 

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I would really like to thank In2Adventure for putting on one of the best multi sport events I have ever attended, Lake Crackenback resort which should be on your list of places to stay if you’re in the Snowy Mountain region, and of course my family for supporting me to do this crazy event. Thanks also to my training buddies and Nicola for the swim lessons.

 

Cheers Peter