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Denis Chevrot and Annabel Luxford win Ironman 70.3 Ballarat

Ballarat turned it on last weekend for the Ironman 70.3 Ballarat triathlon. It was a race at the end of the year for most of the triathletes with a lot of fatigue nipping at the heels of the pros racing.

On paper this could have been anyone’s race with some serious runners in the fields. In the men’s race Chevrot Kerr, Berkel and Griffin can all lay down a very fast half marathon and Betten is growing with each year. The women’s race was always going to be Luxfords barring a mechanical or end of season fatigue.

When the men exited the swim there were 9 spread out over the lead group. The scramble was on to get out on to the bike and try to drop as many of the guys who were not up to getting on the ‘rivet’ for 90kms.

Fettell hit the gas right from the start with the aim of giving himself a buffer on the run. He put an early gap in to Griffin, Betten, Kerr and James Davy (More on James later). Chevrot, Bell and last years winner Pellow were just off the lead pack with Berkel on a mission after giving a start to the leaders. By the half way mark Fettell had been reeled in by Griffin, Davy, Chevrot, Betten, Kerr and Bell. Berkel was making big moves not far back with Sam Tebek hanging in there.

In the women’s race Luxford had taken control by the half way mark. For someone who has won an ITU world championship and has a massive power to weight ratio on the bike she certainly knows how to do the business when there are no impediments.

Luxford is one of the strongest swimmers in the game but when I asked her 3 years ago while out on a ride on the NSW south coast what her secret to swimming so fast was she said ‘I do 100s on repeat with a high turnover’. It would be good to catch up again and find out whether Annabel has refined her swim training.

Chasing Luxford was Andrea Forrest, Kiralee Seidel and Jacqueline Henricks. After Forrest’s race at Shepparton recently Luxford would not have been counting her chickens.

2/3s in to the bike and Berkel had stomped his way in to the lead group then took Betten and Chevrot to form a break away. Bell, Griffin, Davy, Kerr and Fettell hung on in an attempt to limit the damage.

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Meanwhile Luxford had her ‘You are about to be chicked‘ game on and was hunting down some of the tail end male pros.

In to T2 and Chevrot hit the run in the lead with Berkel and Betten left to put in an effort to limit the damage right from the start. Luke Bell had breached the gap and was on to the run on the heels of the lead three with Leon Griffin, James Davy, Clayton Fettell, Peter Kerr and Samuel Tebek chasing closely.

Early on in the run we saw Betten and Chevrot taking the race on and dropping Bell, Berkel with Kerr and Griffin settling in to the race.

Meanwhile Luxford was in her own world with no one looking like coming between her and the win. We saw the other week in Western Sydney that Seidel can come through the field in the run and we witnessed this again on Sunday so Luxford had no chance to get comfortable.

Forrest has shown that she is a force to be reckoned with and will definitely win a big race in the near future.

Meanwhile the race at the front was still Betten v Chevrot with Bell and Griffin hanging in, Davy just dropping off and Berkel possibly paying for his charge to front on the bike. Kerr had moved in to 3rd place with the two guys in front playing a game of chicken. Betten surged just after the half way mark and Chevrot looked to be gone.

Henricks was holding on to 2nd place behind Luxford but breathing down her neck were Seidel and Forrest. These two were setting themselves up for a solid run and knew what they were after.

Meanwhile Chevrot had pulled back Betten and hit the front. Betten tried to hang on but the rubber band broke and it was about limiting the damage and trying to hold off the chasers. Kerr was just too strong in the dying stages but Betten dug deep and held on for third.

As mentioned earlier James Davy is someone we all need to sit up and take notice of. I have known James (Strutta to his mates) for a few years. Most recently he worked for me along with David Mainwaring and Matthew Pellow for over two years. Pellow is someone who will become a force in Ironman distance triathlon as he ages and builds the miles in his legs. Mainy is one of the toughest and fastest runners in the game and Davy is potentially one of the fastest over the 70.3 distance. He can swim with the best, has a half marathon PB of 1:08 and when he gets his bike legs well and truly bedded in he will do some big things.

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Annabel Luxford crossed the line to take the Ballarat title with Seidel second over 6 minutes back and Forrest in third.