This weekend approximately 1,000 athletes of all ages and abilities descended on the Greater City of Shepparton for the annual Challenge Shepparton Triathlon Festival. The weekend of festivities saw an array of events ranging from the McDonald’s trikids races (for Children aged between 5-12 years), beginner races and short course races all the way through to the key event, Challenge Shepparton.
This year marked the 20th year of triathlon in Shepparton, and Shepparton Tri Club President Troy Hadfield said,
“Shepparton is a great place for triathlon, and the community really embraces the event”
The internationally renowned brand of Challenge is held in high regard in triathlon circles and saw athletes travel from all across the world including, Germany, USA and New Zealand to partake in the race. Amongst the travelling athletes were 18 Male and 10 Female Professional athletes who competed for a prize purse of $20,000AUD.
The longest of the four contested distances across the weekend, Challenge Shepparton, saw athletes swim 1.9km, ride 90km and run 21.1km. The warm weather proved to be a considerable challenge for participants who endured not only the distances but also temperatures more than 30 degrees.
In the men’s race, Dan Wilson defended his title taking out the honours in a time of 3.41.31. Wilson, of Tarragindi Queensland, led from pillar to post exiting the swim 1min 42secs ahead of Leon Griffin and a chase swim pack of six athletes. After winning last year, Wilson has worked hard to stay atop of a very competitive pro field in Shepparton. Throughout the race, Wilson proved too strong. However, it was the run that Wilson truly stamped his authority with a solid 74-minute run. In the minor placings, the run is where all the action took place where the 2015 champion Luke Bell had second place snatched from him with less than 2 kilometres to go. David Mainwaring’s 1hr 16min run earnt him second place and a finish time of 3:53.41 ahead of Bell in a time of 3:54.14.
Chatting about his win today, Wilson said, “with this being my retiring year I wanted to come back and defend my title.”
In the Women’s race, it was Anna Eberhardt of Hungary who took the win in the final 300m. Eberhardt who came out of the water 7 minutes 35 secs behind the lead swimmers earned the victory in the ride and then the run pushing through the field to win in a time of 4:33.26. In her third professional race, Renee Kiley led off the bike just falling short on the run to finish in a time of 4:34.01 ahead of Holy Kahn in 4:35.30 in third. Eberhardt said “the temperatures that I experienced here is not too dissimilar to where I live in Singapore” citing that she was even cold at the beginning of the bike leg.
While the professionals garnished much of the attention across the weekend, many remarkable stories of athletes came to light. Most train day-in and day-out while holding down an active family life and full-time employment to complete the gruelling event. Two of these athletes, Marcus Aw from Echuca and David Chang from Melbourne said Challenge Shepparton is “a great opportunity to have a boys weekend away” with Chang making note that “he does his training [sic] when the kids go to bed.”
The weekend’s event was made possible by droves of volunteers who gave up their time to support a great community event and to raise funds for their local community groups and charities. Challenge donates to these community groups instead of their time. It is expected that more than $4,000 will be given to community groups and charities who supplied 50 volunteers who manned drink stations, athlete safety and other various roles across the event. “Challenge Shepparton triathlon festival is only made possible by the hard work of our fantastic volunteers from community groups such as First North Scout Group, Rotary Clubs of Shepparton and Maroopna, Shepparton Rowing Club, the Maroopna Junior Fire Brigade, Shepparton FNC and St Luke Primary School,” said Jody McClaren the Volunteer manager.