Aussie Long Course titles – Falling down the mountai
The Australian Long Course Triathlon Championships made the move south of the border for the 2012 edition, and to Victorian alps at the popular ski resort of Falls Creek, which in summer is also home to many of Australia’s best athletes as an altitude training base for its magnificent array of trails, tracks, roads and environment for training.
The Falls Creek triathlon made its debut in 2011 in a bold and successful bid by event organisers Supersprint to establish an event with a point of difference, being at altitude and over a challenging course including the Rocky Dam, Bogong High Plains road and the famous aqueduct trails for the swim, bike and run legs. The debut event was greeted with great weather, allaying fears of inclement weather affecting the event, which is very probably in notoriously fickle in alpine regions.
In 2012 the weather featured as a major talking point with race week forecasts predicting temperature ranges of 7-9 degrees, which called into action contingency plans of possibly deferring the Saturday race to Sunday, and included use of mobile SMS messages to competitors with up-to-date details – a pioneering plan and much appreciated by all athletes. As it was, the weather required organisers to change start times twice on the basis of latest forecasts, which ultimately resulted in a successful event where the weather was almost a non-event.
Unfortunately for a national championship race, there were only four entries in the women’s elite field and after two withdrawals the race was left with two athletes. But lack of competitors was made up for by quality with world Ironman 70.3 champion Melissa Rollison being the stand out along with defending Falls Creek champion Madeline Oldfield. For each it would be test of where they were at early in the year.
Starting with the Elite men, Rollison and Oldfield swam together and exited alongside with Oldfield taking the timing honours in 31:40min for the 2km swim. Onto the 80km, 3 lap bike it was Oldfield with a short lead after a quick transition, but it was Rollison who forced the pace – quickly becoming a renowned cyclist in the sport – but had to work hard to shake Oldfield who remained within 2 mins by the end of the ride, and hopeful of using her run leg strength to rein in Rollison…a hard task against a former Commonwealth Games runner. Rollison recorded 2:22:28hr for the ride.
It was clear early on that Rollison was not going to let anyone come close during the 20km, 2 lap run along the newly surfaced aqueducts – not to mention a short, steep climb up a ski run on each lap. Rollison was motoring, putting minutes into Oldfield with each kilometre, and eventually had the seventh fastest run of the day in 1:18:10hr winning in 4:14:39hr (15th overall), almost exactly 10 minutes ahead of Oldfield. It was another dominating performance by Rollison, especially her run leg which must surely be putting fear into other women around the world, and her first Australian triathlon title.
1 Melissa Rollison 4:14:39
2 Madeleine Oldfield 4:24:40
The men’s race had 15 entrants including top ranked Joe Gambles, Luke Bell, Olympic medallist (and 2nd here last year) Jan Rehula, Noosa winner David Dellow, along with Tim Reed, Mitch Anderson and Adam Holborow. Unfortunately Holborow was a pre-race withdrawal, but the race was still a highly competitive affair with many athletes using it as a tune-up for the upcoming IM Melbourne.
The Rocky Dam water was a cool 15 degrees as the athletes entered and started with the usual flurry of activity as a pack of seven swimmers made a break, led by Michael Fox along with Gambles, Rehula, Bell, Dellow, Ben Allen and Lindsey Wall. Reed and Monty Frankish were just off the pace but in touch. Fox led the swim out in 27:08 and the group hit the road in close contact; Anderson was four minutes back.
Onto the bike and the group split with a lead trio of Reed, Gambles and Bell breaking away in good conditions, with little wind albeit a bit cool but under clear skies. Back a little Anderson and Casey Munro were pegging back time on the field, but holding a steady gap to the leading trio. Bell made a break to take the lead further into the bike, coming into T2 after a 2:07:50hr split with an 80 sec lead over Gambles, who had opened a small gap of just over a minute to Reed. Anderson rode strongly but came into T2 6 min down on Bell, 4:40 behind Gamble and 3:43 off Reed.
Early in the run it was Bell who was showing the way, however minor disaster struck early on as he rolled his ankle slightly coming down the ski run section and out of caution shut his race down and eased his way through the rest of the run to finish in 5th, saving himself for IM Melbourne in 6 weeks time.
This opened up the race for the chasers, and it was Reed in his trademark, fluoro orange budgie smugglers who showed the fastest feet to pass Gambles for the lead and open up a gap to take the win, and Australian title in 3:54:15hr after a smoking 1:15:00hr run. Gambles stayed close to come in second 62 seconds later, with Mitch Anderson being the big mover into 3rd place a further 5 mins later – a great return to racing after injuries late in 2011. The win consolidated Reed’s international performances, and great start to 2012. First age grouper was Peter Loveridge who just edged Sam Hume by 7 seconds.
1 Tim Reed Elite 3:54:15
2 Joe Gambles Elite 3:55:17
3 Mitch Anderson Elite 4:00:29
4 Jan Rehula Elite 4:02:15
5 Luke Bell M Elite 4:03:23
6 Monty Frankish Elite 4:06:14
7 Michael Fox Elite 4:07:20
8 Peter Loveridge 30-34 4:07:25
9 Sam Hume 35-39 4:07:32
10 Bill Scanlan Elite 4:09:28