This weekend’s 29th Nepean triathlon has one of the hottest fields in Australian triathlons this year. The fastest male and female triathletes could potentially take away $2,750 each for a mornings work. The women’s field is the hardest to pick with potentially 6 women capable of taking out the race. Michelle Wu just won Tawian 70.3, Melissa Rollinson won Gold Coast half ironman, Lisa Marangon recently won Forster Olympic distance and has a huge base from Kona, Anna Cleaver just won Port Macquarie half ironman, Melissa Vanderwater and Charolette McShane are all capable of winning. Throw in Tara Prowse, Kirra Siddle, Chloe Turner and up and coming Matilda Raynolds and it could be anyone’s race on the day. Charlotte McShane, 2008 World U20 Exterra Champion, is also in great form after winning an Olympic distance triathlon in Florida in October in 2:05.
2002 winner, Anna Cleaver, is in scintillating form after recently winning the 2010 SiS Port Macquarie half ironman. Anna, who lead from start to finish, sees Melissa Rollinson and Michelle Wu as the favourites along with Lisa Marangon. Of course Anna is right there with them, “my pick for the top placings, based on recent performance and on past Nepean wins is Melissa Rollinson, Michelle Wu, Melissa Vanderwater and Lisa Marangon, but of course I would love to be up there too!”
The short course form of the race makes for a great spectator event. “I think the race will be a great one for spectators with some very fast runs. It has been quite some time since I have raced this event (2002) but it is still one of my favourites and I have very fond memories of it. I’m excited about testing myself on the shorter distance and racing some of the best girls in Australia at the moment”.
When Lisa Marangon found out who was racing she said: “That is one good field! I’m not sure how I’ll go, but I will give it my all. A lot of those girls are coming off really good recent results. It will come down to the run and hopefully the officials monitor the drafting on the bike. I’m out to go hard and have fun!”. Lisa out ran Michelle Wu at this years Byron Bay triathlon, and her swim should see her one of the first out of the water.
Up and coming pro triathlete Matilda Raynalds spends a lot of time around the major triathlon events in Australia in her role with SKINS. She liaises with the athletes sponsored by SKINS and has always had a really keen interest in the top athletes. Now that she is breaking in to their ranks I asked her what she thought about the field racing this weekend. Matilda recently recently placed 1st in the Open Female category at Noosa and came 2nd at the Forster round of the triseries in the Olympic distance race behind Lisa Marangon and ahead of Nicole Ward.
“Nepean should be one of the bests triathlons of the year because the field is so strong and consists of a lot of females who are far more experienced then I, and are athletes I hope to be better than one day. Nepean is not a goal race for me so I will be training heavily up to Sunday with a long ride planned with my coach Spot Anderson on Saturday. With no pressure I’m looking forward to getting out there”.
Matlida has not had an opportunity to race against all of the girls yet. “Some of the names I don’t know as well but if I had money to bet I’d be putting it on Anna Cleaver because her swim is so strong. Michelle Wu will be able to perfect all 3 legs, Lisa Marangon as well because she will be in the main pack out of the water and push the bike. Melissa Rollinson will probably come out of the water behind, but watch her chase the field down and possibly put in the fastest 10K of the day”.
“I haven’t seen Melissa Vanderwater this season but it would be foolish to think she will not finish at the pointy end of the field”.
Matilda also added. “Hopefully if the format of this event goes well, other companies can see what is attracting so many good athletes to the one place and hopefully replicate it. We need more races where the top athletes are turning up at the same place”.
Michelle Wu, who has just come back from winning the Taiwan 70.3, possibly will go toe to toe with Melissa Rollinson for outright honours. Michelle was just on 2 ½ minutes behind Melissa at the Gold Coast half in terrible conditions. She will need to get out of the water as far ahead of Melissa as she can. Like Matilda and Lisa, Michelle was a little surprised at the level of triathletes in the field. “Yes that’s definitely a HOT field of girls racing! Certainly going to be a tough morning out there in Nepean and the pace will be pretty quick from the gun!”
Like the other women racing Michelle is pumped about this race. “I’m excited about racing this weekend against the girls. I have raced against most of them, either in Yeppoon or Gold Coast, but there are a few there that I haven’t been up against before. Anna Cleaver had a great race in Port Macquarie recently and she will no doubt be one to look for coming out of the water probably in the lead. Charlotte has been racing ITU races over in Europe and the USA for most of this year and has improved significantly, so she will also be a good threat. Melissa Rollinson is certainly on a “roll” with a killer run leg which she will no doubt use, and of course Lisa Marangon is always strong and tough whenever she toes the start line. I can’t even pick who might be the top 3 as all the girls will be tough and with some pretty significant prize money up for grabs, it is going to be fast and super hard racing! It will be interesting too with the new Elite Super Sprint race and having to back up straight after doing the standard Nepean Tri. I suspect the short Sprint race will hurt quite a lot!”
Michelle is backing herself be in contention at the finish. “I personally hope to be up there with the leaders, but I will need a good swim to keep in touch. I’m pretty confident of my riding and running, so if I don’t lose too much time in the water, I should be somewhere in the mix!”
It will be a great weekend with some hot weather forecast, but being early in the morning that will hopefully not be much of a factor.