Annelise Jefferies’ Mooloolaba Triathlon win might be the biggest triumph of her career, but as a Sunshine Coast local it was years in the making. The 24-year-old went to secondary school in Buderim and she’s now a student at the University of the Sunshine Coast in Sippy Downs, studying nutrition and dietetics. When she took up the sport in 2010 on the back of an already well-developed running base, Jefferies took a distinct interest in the Mooloolaba Triathlon as her local race.
“I love the buzz of the event with the mixture of the ITU racing and the other festival events and the world class athletes that Mooloolaba Tri brings,” she said.
“When I first started tri I used to get goose bumps watching in awe of the elites racing and it really got my adrenaline going. The hype and atmosphere of the event and the focus and fierceness of the elite racing appealed to my competitive nature. I wanted to be in the race mix with the big girls too. I didn’t put any timeline on it, I just knew that that was where I was aiming for.”
Aiming to compete is one thing, but Jefferies, in the infancy of her career, can already lay claim to winning her local race – something she no doubt dreamt of while watching from behind the fences seven years’ ago.
“Mooloolaba was very special. Having so much local support and friends and family to share my success with was really special. It’s the first time that I could say the Olympic distance seemed to go quickly. To put that (race) together gives me good confidence in my current form,” she said.
The race was a surprise, even to Jefferies, whom clocked the course in 2:05:04. Her strong running background meant she was always going to threaten late, especially on a course well known to her. But not in her wildest dreams did she think things would’ve played out like they did last Sunday.
“I hung onto the main group in the swim, putting myself in a good position going out on the bike. With no time to waste I worked the hill over to the motorway very hard and carried good momentum down the onramp and I had my eyes set on the two leading girls only a small gap in front,” she said.
“By about 12km into the bike there was four or five at the front of the race and I kept my presence around the front of the group trying to stretch it out. After a slight stumble in T2 I was out on the run just behind Kirra (Seidel) and Katey (Gibb), but they quickly made a gap on me up the first hill.”
Rather than exert her energy on the chase, Jefferies opted to race within herself and maintain a consistent pace. The fact she was able to chase down Seidel and Gibb without burning too much energy is a testament to her tremendous running power – and a sign of her promising potential in the sport.
It wasn’t a conscious decision to not push myself to stay with them, my body just didn’t respond to the surge.
“I held at consistent effort and worked the first downhill to stay at a steady intensity and found myself back on their heels. I wasn’t happy to slow down to sit in so I took the lead but was surprised to realise that they weren’t coming with me. From there I found my legs and kept ticking at a strong and steady pace, which I could see was slightly extending my lead.
“Katey made a move on the last half lap and I knew I had to push up a notch to hold my lead. Those last two kilometres I put myself in the box, running scared and not knowing how much lead I had. I didn’t slow up until I crossed the line.”
Jefferies is a product of Triathlon Australia’s development program and now she is part of Nick Croft’s Multisport Consultants training group, where she’s focusing on the 70.3 calendar. Through her performance at Mooloolaba, and a win at the Under-23 World Duathlon Championships in 2015, Jefferies has shown glimpses of her potential. Who knows what the future holds for her in the sport, but she’s working hard on all aspects of her game to ensure that she makes the most of her opportunity.
“I would say I’m training consistently over the three disciplines to improve all-round for 70.3 racing,” she said.
“I’m still very much a newbie to 70.3 and I’m just taking it one race at a time for now and I hope to improve my result each time I race.”