The 16th Australia Day Aquathon was held in the Wollongong on Australia Day recently.This event is the largest Aquathon in Australia with over 2000 competitors of all ages and abilities taking part on the day. It also serves as a season opening race for many of the locally based international triathlon stars and for many is a start in what will be a tough year ahead for the ITU triathletes with the Rio Olympics also being staged in August.
Events included the Long Aqua (900m swim, 7km run), the Short Aqua(400m swim + 3km run) Kids Aqua (6-9 yrs 140m swim +2km run, 10-12yrs 200m swim + 2km run) the Try Aqua (200 swim + 2km run) and the Community Walk.
A number of International triathlon stars once again took part in this great anual event that attracts world class athletes from all over the world and showcases not only the best of athletic abilities the world has to offer but the true beauty of the coastal town of Wollongong.
In the women’s event Gwen JORGENSON took the win from her training partners and fellow Wollongong Wizards Barbar RIVEROS (Chile) and Amelie KRETZ (Can) to sew up her fourth consecutive Australia day Aquathon in a time of 37:57 in what was a closely contested battle with all three women placing within a minute of each other. With another international star Natalie Van COEVORDEN leading JORGENSON out of the water with KRETZ and RIVEROS hot on their heals it was looking like COEVORDEN was in with a chance only to have a slow run loosing over two minutes to the top three.
Other notable mentions were were Emma JEFFCOAT with a time of 39:16 and Charlotte MCSHANE in at 39:34.
The men’s event saw favourite and Rio Olympics hopeful Jake BIRTHWHISTLE (Aus) gaining the upper hand from his training partners and also Wollongong Wizards team mates Tyler MISLAWCHUK (Can) and Alexis LEPAGE (Can) with a time of 34:09. With all three out of the water within ten seconds of each other it was another close race with MISLAWCHUK placing second only 18 seconds behind and LEPAGE down by only 1:39. XTerra world champion and local Ben ALLEN placed a respectable 8th with a time of 38:27 whilst having a bit of fun as he always does.
The Short Aqua saw a win from up and coming star James DAVEY (and 70.3 debutante in Geelong this weekend) who backed it up after placing 7th in the Long Aqua in a time of 16:57 closely followed in 2nd by Christopher BREEN (17:05) and 3rd Callum LOWE-GRIFFITHS (17:32) who were again all within 60seconds of each other.
The day also saw a number of kids races who raced as individuals, as a team and some who even be joined by mum and dad for extra support.
There was also a well attended 3.5km community walk to round out the days events.
This truly is one of the greatest events in Australia if not the world, it puts the spotlight on the city of Wollongong encourages health and fitness for all ages and abilities and always gets the Australia day festivities off to a great start. Rob BATTOCCHIO and the team at ‘Activate Events’ should be proud of what they have achieved and should be congratulated on producing such a great event.