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Jake Birtwhistle and Natalie van Coevorden win Hamilton Island Triathlon

Last weekend’s Hamilton Island Triathlon saw age groupers both young and old joining the pros for a gruelling race in hot conditions.

The Hamilton Island Triathlon in the Whitsundays is one of the world’s most beautiful races in a true island paradise, but it’s also extremely hot and hilly. “It is a tough course,” Jake Birtwhistle said. “I think it really is the hardest race course I’ve ever done. The hills, heat, it has every aspect to make you race hard. It’s a challenging but very rewarding race.”

Jake was in peak form after coming second in Noosa two weeks earlier. He had been looking forward to the Whitsunday race, so he’s thrilled with his performance.

Starting and finishing on  picturesque Cats Eye Beach, the last few metres of the run are through the sand – making the finish extra challenging for athletes. But the scenery and crowd are worth it. “I’m certainly interested in coming back,” said Jake. “I love coming here every year.”

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Hamilton Island Triathlon 2016 lightning fast Women’s Race

The women’s race was incredibly fast. So fast in fact, that the top two women finished with a faster time than Jed Boxall, who came second in the men’s race. The true champion, though, was Natalie van Coevorden. After an impressive second place finish at Noosa just two weeks ago, Natalie van Coevorden was in peak form and it showed during her run last weekend.

While she was thrilled with her result, it’s the course itself that made a real impression on Natalie. “It’s my first time here. I’m pretty stunned by how beautiful it is, it’s amazing,” she said. “[The race] was tougher than I expected but its all part of the challenge. I loved the beach swim.”

Hamilton Island Triathlon is for all skill levels

Vice president of the Hamilton Island Triathlon Club, Martin Gartrell, was thrilled with this year’s turnout and loved the atmosphere at the race. “It’s probably the best race atmosphere you can have out of anywhere really,” he added. Acknowledging the extremely dry heat during November, Gartrell admitted: “It’s a tough course. The wind was just brutal, it was so hot. It’s a brutal course but a lot of fun.”

Local teenager finishes 4th behind pros

Far from being a professional-only event, the Hamilton Island Triathlon is for all ages and all skill levels. “We have the really fast ones who can go far in the sport, and people who just want to have fun. It’s a participation thing,” said Martin Gartrell.

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One participant in particular truly disrupted the women’s race; 16-year-old Emma Hogan from Proserpine who came fourth on the day. “I was really just racing myself and the clock and aiming for a personal best time, which I got,” said Hogan. “To come fourth is even better.”

This incredible achievement could be the first step in Emma Hogan’s triathlon career. “I’d really like to continue in the sport and progress through to the girls that place in the top three,” she added.

Check out the times of the top men and women below, plus some great photos from the event here.

Men’s Race

  1. Jake Birtwhistle: 1:06:47
  2. Jed Boxall 1:13:00
  3. Liam Rapley 1:15:34

Women’s Race

  1. Natalie van Coevorden 1:11:02
  2. Charlotte McShane 1:12:03
  3. Sophie Maloweieck 1:16:19

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