Today’s Challenge Shepparton could see any one of about 5 -7 guys vying for the win, if this year’s starting list is anything to go by.
Dan Wilson is embarking on his long course career and would have to be the hot favourite, alongside Brad Kahlefeldt, Jeff Symonds and last year’s runner-up Sam Betten. Missing from the starting list is Matthew Pellow, who won Ballarat in 2015 and last year’s Shepparton champ Luke Bell who is out after crashing his bike a week ago.
For Canadian Jeff Symonds, Australia has been a happy hunting ground with a win in the Asia Pacific Ironman Championship in 2015. Symonds also won Challenge Penticton in 2013 and 2014, and is one of the better long course runners in the game. He also finished 3rd in 2011 at the 70.3 world champs. Most of Symond’s big results have been over the full distance.
In 2014, Dan Wilson had an epic battle with Courtney Atkinson over the half distance on the Sunshine Coast event. The pair ran 1:12s and pushed each other to the limit. Atkinson just managed to pip Wilson in a photo finish.
Of course, there are a host of other men who could also push for a podium spot if everything goes their way.
Mitch Kibby is someone who should be at the pointy end, and early on Nuru Somi will be in the mix with his strong swim leg. It will be interesting to see how Nuru goes at Shepparton as he slowly builds the miles in his legs.
The women’s race should be a great battle between Annabel Luxford and Ellie Salthouse. Ellie has had a fantastic year in the USA, with a recent win in the Miami 70.3 to cap the year off. Annabel has not raced as much in the last couple of years, with her win at the Asia Pacific 70.3 champs in Auckland as one of the former ITU World Champion’s big long course results.
The word is that Radka Vodikova is out. Andrea Forrest is also one who will be pushing for a podium spot.
Media release – Thursday 3 November 2016, Shepparton, Victoria
Some of the biggest names in international triathlon are set to sizzle at CHALLENGE SHEPPARTON on Sunday 13 November 2016.
CHALLENGE SHEPPARTON includes a 1.9km swim in the stunning Victoria Park Lake, a two-lap 90km bike course on flat and fast roads and a three-lap 21.1km run encompassing the lake, Goulburn River and red-gum forest paths.
Both the men and women’s fields feature a blend of experienced athletes and new talents looking to make their mark in the sport.
Reigning Champion Luke Bell returns to defend the title he won in 2015. The Victorian was forced to rest for two months early in the year after breaking his pelvis in a bike accident. He has since returned to form with a second placing at Challenge Jeju and fourth at half distance Hefei in China. The Shepparton record holder has over 20 half-distance wins to his name and is at ‘home’ on the CHALLENGE SHEPPARTON course.
Bell will face off against Sam Betten, who finished second last year and will be keen to go one better in 2016. Recent Noosa Triathlon winner Dan Wilson also lines up. Wilson is making the transition from short course racing to the longer form and it looks like it will suit him down to the ground.
The powerful couple of Brad Kahlefeldt and Radka Vodickova will both return to Shepparton, having raced there successfully in the past. They will be hoping to replicate the result they produced at half distance Hefei in China two weeks ago, where both won their respective events.
Kahlefeldt finished second at CHALLENGE SHEPPARTON in 2014 and brings good form to the event this year.
Vodickova is one of the most consistent half-distance athletes on the planet and rarely misses the podium at any event she contests, including a second (2014) and third (2015) in Shepparton. The Czech athlete, who resides and trains in Australia, already boasts three wins along with six podiums in 2016 and is a great chance of adding another in Shepparton.
Annabel Luxford won the inaugural CHALLENGE SHEPPARTON in 2014 and has been in great form this year. Her highlights include a sixth at the half distance World Championships and a win at half distance Japan.
Up-and-comer Ellie Salthouse has taken the sport by storm since her move to half-distance racing. The 23-year old Australian, who is making her Shepparton debut, has raced predominantly in North America, registering victories at half distance Miami and Boulder, along with a string of top-three results. Salthouse’s coach is Siri Lindley, who also coaches last year’s winner Rebekah Keat.
On top of all of this, it was announced in July that CHALLENGE SHEPPARTON would be the only World Championship Qualification Event in Victoria. “After three years establishing CHALLENGE SHEPPARTON, this now places our much loved race on the National and International triathlon stage,” said Challenge Shepparton event manager Kelvin Maude.
This means that CHALLENGE SHEPPARTON will provide the opportunity for Elite, Under 23 and Age Group triathletes to earn points towards the 2017 ITU (International Triathlon Union) Age Group World Championships to be held in Penticton, Canada.
“A chance to win points to secure a place on the Australian ‘Green and Gold Team’ is a dream of many athletes,” added Maude.
CHALLENGE SHEPPARTON offers a huge weekend of family fun with options for everyone. A jam-packed program also includes McDonald’s tri-kids triathlon, Aqua Shop Open Water Swim, fun run and a cycling criterium.
Luke Bell (AUS)
Brad Kahlefeldt (AUS)
Sam Betten (AUS)
Dan Wilson (AUS)
Brad Wauer (AUS)
Sam Tebeck (AUS)
Jeff Symonds (CAN)
Brian Hrynkow (CAN)
Levi Maxwell (AUS)
Lachlan Kerin (AUS)
Alexander Polizzi (AUS)
Rudgley Adam (AUS)
Nuru Somi (AUS)
Benjamin Williams (USA)
Mitchell Kibby (AUS)
Matt Burton (AUS)
Nathan Miller (AUS)
Annabel Luxford (AUS)
Radka Vodickova (CZE)
Ellie Salthouse (AUS)
Amanda Wilson (AUS)
Andrea Forrest (AUS)
Katey Gibb (AUS)
Rachael Paxton (AUS)
Stephanie Demestichas (AUS)
Bonnie Van Wilgenburg (UK)
Georgia Stott (AUS)
Lauren Parker (AUS)