Ellie Salthouse and Dan Wilson won the Women’s and Men’s titles at the Challenge Shepparton triathlon yesterday in tough, windy conditions. Here’s a recap of how both races played out.
Challenge Shepparton Women’s Race
Winner Ellie Salthouse had never competed in the Challenge Shepparton event, but did so thanks to a recommendation from training partner Rebekah Keat. Keat won the event five times and has a genuine affection for the crowd and feel of the country Victoria event. Now, Salthouse loves the event too: “I couldn’t believe the atmosphere, there were so many people watching and cheering for me, it was an incredible atmosphere,’’ Ellie said yesterday.
She started strong in the swim and led from the start, fiercely powering on through the chilly water.
Transition time adds to Salthouse’s lead
As Ellie moved into T1, she was nine seconds faster in the transition which helped increase her lead. As the women progressed through the bike leg, though, the wind became difficult to manage. “The second lap of the bike was really windy coming back in but it was the same for everybody,” she said. “The conditions were tough and very different to Brisbane. I came from 33°C and sun to rain and cold, so for me this is not ideal but you can’t do anything about it.”
Despite the chilly weather and powerful winds, Ellie pushed on into the run. While she lead from the start, Salthouse’s win was no easy feat, with fellow pro Andrea Forrest hot on her heels much of the way. ‘‘The last lap of the run was a real struggle, Andrea came home with a vengeance, I saw her at the turnaround and thought I better get moving because she’s coming in hot,’’ noted Ellie.
Picturesque bush country eases windy conditions
As she neared the end of the 21.1km run, she kept pushing to maintain her lead and finished in a time of 4:19:16, with Andrea behind her at 4:20:06 and Katey Gibb with 4:26:29. It wasn’t all gruelling, though, and Ellie Salthouse thoroughly enjoyed the picturesque course. “Running through the bush was my favourite part and it made it go really quickly. I’m so glad I came down,”she said yesterday.
Andrea Forrest put up an impressive fight throughout the race, finishing with the fastest bike and run splits but with slightly slower transition times and a slower swim, she took out second place. The humble athlete acknowledge Salthouse and Gibb on social media.
Kate Gibb was thrilled with her own performance too, and rightfully so. She was also excited to partake in her first ‘podium beer shower.’ Only in Shepparton, right?
Challenge Shepparton Men’s Race
Starting from the far right of the pack with a strategy to lead early, Dan Wilson surged to the front of the swim. As the men’s fingertips grazed the thick reeds at the bottom of Victoria Park Lake, Dan maintained a lead with fiercely strong swimmer Sam Betten hot on his heels.
Winds create fierce bike battle
As the men moved towards the transition, the chase pack surged forward, led by young gun Lachie Kerin. However, the weather soon became difficult. “I don’t think I’ve ever raced in wind like that,” said Dan Wilson yesterday. “There were crosswinds both ways. There wasn’t one free pedal stroke or any easy kilometres, it was a really tough bike.”
Despite the winds and dropping his bottle jam-packed full of carbs, Wilson maintained his solid speed with Sam close behind. Little did he know, Lachie had powered ahead of the chase pack and was beginning his own solo pursuit of the leader.
Dan Wilson proves unfased by wardrobe malfunction
As the men flew into T2, Matt Burton overtook Wilson and began the windy but picturesque 21.1km run. His lead wasn’t maintained for long and Wilson regained the top spot, keeping a keen eye on the other competitors. “There are lots of U-turn sections, so you get a good look at the guys behind you,” Dan told Trizone yesterday. “I knew I was feeling comfortable and there was a big gap there so I was content to do what I had to do.”
During the run, Wilson’s front zipper faltered and split but he still managed to maintain his laid-back style as he continued on through the race in shark teeth shorts and a gaping race suit.
Dan Wilson ran an impressively consistent race, much like his Noosa victory two weeks ago. “I wanted to do it as efficiently as possible,” he said. Efficient is an understatement, and Wilson finished in 3:50:45, creating a huge gap between him and Matt Burton, who finished in 3:55:04 while Lachie Kerin posted a time of 3:56:54.
Young Lachie Kerin “frothing” on 3rd place result
Dan Wilson was proud of his result but it was young triathlete Lachie Kerin who simply couldn’t stop smiling.
“Frothing on that one, 3rd place today at @challengeshepp. Rolled the dice and put myself at the front off the bike and it payed off.”
“I’m really happy with it and it’s a bit of a breakthrough for my confidence. Knowing I can make it with some of the guys who have been in it for a long time is pretty great,” Lachie told Trizone yesterday.
Matt Burton was also thrilled with his result and happy to have a celebratory place atop the podium.
Congratulations to all the age-groupers who competed in such challenging conditions, and a huge thanks to all the supporters who came out to watch the athletes yesterday.