1 FEBRUARY 2016 - Todd Skipworth has rung in 2016 in a blistering manner, dominating the male elite field to take out the first CHALLENGE FAMILY event of 2016, CHALLENGE MELBOURNE. Fellow Aussie compatriot, Ellie Salthouse played to her strengths powered away from the field in the run leg to claim first place honours ahead of Natalie Van Coevorden and Carrie Lester.
In what turned out to be a vintage Melbourne day with respect to the weather, storms were forecast for the morning but pushed south which produced ideal triathlon conditions with light winds and mild temperatures. Skipworth was able to capitalise on these improved conditions from the 2015 edition of CHALLENGE MELBOURNE, to rise from 5th place to take out the Champion honours.
“I was able to get a little break in the swim and capitalised on that, before jumping on the bike where I was pretty strong.” said Skipworth. After opening up a lead of over 1 minute on the field through the swim leg, Todd held off a challenge from German elite Per Bittner commencing the 21.2km run with a 59 second lead.
Skipworth continued, ‘I wasn’t sure how I would go on the run, but coming off the bike the legs felt good’ which was evident as Todd built his lead by over three minutes through the run course. Providing a challenge for competitors, the new run course featured undulating surfaces and tight corners that required a high level of focus and attention from all athletes. This didn’t hold the Aussie hero back, as he willed himself across the line in front of a rousing reception from the crowd.
German-born Bittner, and 2015 Champion Leon Griffin, forced Skipworth to earn his win as both elites attempted to chase him down but to little avail. Crossing the line in under 4 hours, Bitter (3:56:05) was thrilled to get on the podium in his return to his beloved Melbourne event, and had the luxury of being cheered across the line by Partner & fellow Elite, Yvonne Van Vlerken, who was forced to withdraw from the female race. Griffin (3:58:41) provided another touching moment for spectators, proving that the CHALLENGEFAMILY is all about the athlete, as he ran across the finish line with his young boy hoisted onto his shoulders to take out 3rd place in an epic battle for line honours.
With the unfortunate mid-race withdrawals from Van Vlerken and Annabel Luxford, it was left to Salthouse and Van Coevorden to battle it out for the top podium stop. Competing in her first half distance event, Van Coevorden pushed her fellow Australian right after taking a two second lead on the swim leg but was unable to keep her nose in front. With Salthouse building a marginal lead through the 90km cycle, Ellie powered away to take out the Elite female race by over four minutes. Carrie Lester provided a super-consistent race, holding strong across all three disciplines to capture 3rd place on the podium.
Addressing the crowd following her magical win, Salthouse stated ‘the swim was really good this morning, it was great to have Nat and Annabel up there with me’, before touching on the unfortunate withdrawal of Luxford due to mechanical issues a few kilometres into the bike leg. ‘After a few kilometres in to the bike leg, I was able to take the lead’ an emotional and jubilant Salthouse continued.
For further information and full results visit www.challengemelbourne.com.au
Half Distance Results
1. Todd Skipworth (AUS) 3:51:13
2. Per Bittner (GER) 3:56.05
3. Leon Griffin (AUS) 3:58:41
4. Nuru Somi (CAN) 4:01:13
5. Josh Rix (AUS) 4:03:30
1. Ellie Salthouse (AUS) 4:11:03
2. Natalie Van Coevorden (AUS) 4:15:14
3. Carrie Lester (AUS) 4:19:50
4. Katy Duffield (AUS) 4:31:06
5. Lisa Marangon (AUS) 4:31:36