Queensland’s Josh Amberger and Victoria’s Grace Thek asserted their dominance at Ironman 70.3 Geelong to claim the Elite Australian Long Course Championship titles on Sunday morning.
Putting his running prowess on show, Amberger dug deep in the final stages of the race to overcome longtime rival Sam Appleton and claim the Elite Male Australian Long Course Championship title in 03:44:08.
“It’s kind of unexpected to win here,” Amberger said.
“I’ve been second here so many times, so awesome feeling to get a win and a great way to start the year.”
“I don’t beat [Sam Appleton] very often, so yeah I’ll take that win today and the Australian title.”
Making their intentions clear from the start, Amberger and Appleton wasted no time in establishing an early lead out of the swim.
Chasers Matt Burton, Tim Reed, Tim Van Berkel, and Craig ‘Crowie’ Alexander worked hard on the bike but were unable to bridge the gap, setting up a fiery foot race for podium positions.
Despite Appleton exiting transition with a slight gap over Amberger, the Queenslander wasn’t prepared to settle for second place. Digging deep, Amberger found another level to run down the US-based athlete and secure the win in 03:44:08.
The strength of the field was evident on the run, with Van Berkel and Reed hitting the gas to run into third and fourth off the bike, ahead of Burton and Alexander in fifth and sixth.
In the Pro Female category, New Zealand’s Hannah Wells was in a field of her own, putting together yet another class race to take the win in 04:10:39. Asserting her dominance on the bike, Wells hit the run with a six minute gap under her belt to take a comfortable win in Geelong.
However, it was Melbourne’s Grace Thek who was the first Australian female over the line, taking the Elite Female Australian Long Course Championship title and overall second place.
“I’m really happy with how the race went and even more stoked that it’s an Australian Championship,” Thek said.
“I got off the bike and had the bike legs in me for the first lap of the run and then I actually felt really great the last lap of the run…just basically doing my own race and not worrying too much about anyone else.”
“I’m really looking forward to this year, hopefully some big improvements throughout the year.”
Despite chasing from the moment she exited the water, Thek put together a smart race to find herself well-positioned in second place off the bike.
Maintaining a solid gap between both Wells in front of her and the strong chase group behind her, Thek ran home to second place and the Australian title in 04:16:27. Emily Loughnan and Chloe Lane rounded out the Australian Championship podium with 3rd and 4th overall.
Over 1,000 Age Group athletes also raced across the morning with hopes of claiming Age Group Australian Long Course Championship titles and World Qualification points towards the 2020 Almere-Amsterdam ITU Multisport World Championships.
2020 Australian Long Course Championships
1st – Josh Amberger
2nd – Sam Appleton
3rd – Tim Van Berkel
1st – Grace Thek
2nd – Emily Loughnan
3rd – Chloe Lane