Tim Berkel has shown once again that he is a class act and should go on to be one of our more awarded long course triathletes. His Challenge Melbourne win will be sure to keep him focused and help him with the business of being a professional triathlete.
Since stamping his arrival at the top level in 2005 with a 3rd at Busselton half ironman, Tim went on to develop his long course race base before winning the Shepparton half Ironman in 2007, then Ironman Western Australia in 2008, Challenge Copenhagen in 2010 and 2011 and the 2012 Ironman 70.3 pro championship at Mandurah amongst many other outstanding results in some big races around the world. (Check out Tim Berkel’s results).
Berkel had his work cut out last Sunday with aÂ swim deficit to eradicate before he could start to think about winning. With Aeromax Team mate Clayton Fettell performing as he usually does in the swim and bike it was always going to be a tough ask although Berkel went in to the race very confident in his current form. He has been racing at a top level for long enough to know where he is at.
In addition Fettell’s recent eye surgery has meant the usual preparation for a race like this was not ideal. This is something Berkel would have been very aware of.
The race was never in the bag until the 19km mark in the run. Berkel had John Polson to worry about. Polson has been flying under the radar for a while now but I constantly hear his name from people like Berkel and Tim Reed whenever we preview a race. On paper he has had all three legs going well but getting them humming together on the same day has proved challenging. It seems that new coach Tim Reed is helping Polson get the mix right and we are now seeing the results support this. A superb race at the Auckland 70.3 two weeks ago and now a second at Challenge Melbourne will give Polson the confidence going forward.
Both Tim and John ran side by side for 19kms of the 21.1km run on Sunday. It was a matter of who would break first and at 19km Polson’s hamstring cramps finally got the better of him after he had successfully managed to hide the hurt from Berkel up to that point.
There were a couple of hiccups on the run as the eventual 1-2 guys blazed the trials a bit too fast for the setup crew. This meant that Michael Fox had some opportunities to eat a bit in to their lead. Fox put in one of his best runs to date in a race to get over the top of some classy opponents.
One opponent Fox had to overcome was the former Olympic rower Todd Skipworth who has turned his big rowing engine to a career as a professional triathlete. Another was former elite junior Casey Munro who has returned to the sport after going away to pursue a professional cycling career before returning to the sport he loved a a junior.
Fox spent the run hunting down the leaders and did a great job to keep in touch using the two hills in each of the three laps to cement his position. He finally nailed 3rd with 3kms to go after he reeled in Clayton.
For Fox the journey to the podium of a major race has been a purposely patient one. Coach Peter Clifford and his team HPT have been the source of Fox’s slow but steady rise. Working as a teacher and training has been a balancing act that has Fox has dealt with well. A renowned swimmer, Fox always has the right start in most races. The challenge of getting the bike and run up to the top level is one he has taken slowly. There was a wobbly patch on the bike towards the end of 2013 then Fox put in a blinding ride in Canberra to stay with two of the sports strongest swim/bikers in Sam Appleton and James Hodge. This gave him the confidence that things were on track. A focus on building strength on the bike to aid in plugging a hole in the back end of his run has worked wonders.
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