Queensland’s oldest long distance triathlon event, the ‘Hell of the West’, which this year doubles as Triathlon Australia’s National Elite Long Course Championship was won today by Tim Reed and Sarah Crowley. The two champions raced a strong field to add the title to their already impressive list of achievements. Reed is the current Ironman 70.3 World Champion and Crowley has now won the Hell of the West an incredible four times.
700 athletes from around the country took part in the race which also acts as the National Long Course Age Group Championship and the Queensland State Long Course Age Group Championships.
The unique 2km swim takes athletes along the NSW/QLD border where they swim in NSW as they leave the start area and return via the QLD side of the river. Swim and ride specialist Clayton Fettell lead from the gun and exited the MacIntyre River with a 1min 20sec lead over Luke McKenzie and Reed.
However, Reed attacked the bike early and by the 40km mark had broken away from the field. His dominance continued onto the 60km mark and while the other race favourite’s McKenzie and Fettell struggled on the bike it was Lindsay Wall who moved through the field with Daniel Stein and Nicolas Hull.
Crowley lead out of the water with Swiss athlete Emma Bilham only 13 seconds behind. However, it was out on the bike that Crowley stamped her dominance on the field and came into transition with a six-minute lead on Bilham.
Once off the bike and out on the run Reed continued to put time into his rivals. His fluid running style made his win look effortless as he crossed the line in 3:38:42, recording the fastest run split. In second in a fine effort was Daniel Stein from the Gold Coast who continued his march forward after an impressive bike leg. Stein’s time of 3:47:25 gave him a 1min 15sec buffer over former Ironman Western Australia champion Luke McKenzie.
Champion Reed said after the race, “I grew up in a small town and coming to Goondiwindi was like going home. The atmosphere of the town and the friendly locals just made the experience all the more special. And it was nice to claim another Australian title!’’
Meanwhile, Crowley was continuing her dominance of the race producing the fastest run split (to go with her fastest swim and bike times) of the day to cross the line victorious to claim her fourth Hell of the West title in 3:58:03. Bilham had a strong run also to claim second in 4:05:13 ahead of Katey Gibb who finished in 4:10:07.
“My improved swim, which saw me lead out of the water, meant I had to use new race tactics. I now need to get use to setting the pace and today was a great experience for me. Cam Watt (coach) has helped my swimming and this has made the race less stressful as I don’t have to chase anymore. I can control the effort from the start,‘’ said Crowley at the finish line.