Canberra’s New Zealand-born Rowan Beggs-French pushed his younger Kiwi rivals to the limit when some of Australia’s toughest off-road age group triathletes conquered the Snowy Mountains terrain around Lake Crackenback today in search of a world title.
As hard as the experienced 28-year-old tried it was the younger legs of 18-year-old Kiwis Hayden Wilde and Lewis Ryan who finished first and second across the line - claiming podium finishes in the 18-19 years age group.
Beggs-French, one of the most experienced off-road triathletes in the field who cut his teeth on the rugged west coach of New Zealand himself, was the first Australian across the line.
The aeronautical engineer and pilot, moved to Australia when he was 15 and has explored just about every discipline there is within endurance sport – on road triathlon of all distances, mountain biking, trail running, multi sport, rogaining, endurance swimming and off road triathlon.
“What a day; perfect weather, an amazing course and I couldn’t have asked for a better race. I executed it exactly as I had planned,” said Beggs-French.
“I actually had a sub 20 minute swim which had me 12th overall out of the water. I got to do my thing on the bike and ride into first place overall about 30 seconds clear of Hayden (Wilde)
“Within one kilometre of the run though he came through as if I was standing still in what was an amazing tough run course and I just tried to hang on.
“Hayden was in a class of his own on the run, and Lewis (Ryan) pipped me with one kilometre to go.
“But I left it all out on then track and just stoked to finish third outright, first in my age group and first Australian home.”
While Wilde and Ryan gave New Zealand a 1-2 finish in the 18-19s it was Beggs-French and Geelong’s Davis brothers who dominated the 25-29s.
In a special moment of “brotherly love” 28-year-old Craig Davis waited in the finish chute for younger brother, 23-year-old brother Grant and it was a case of “brothers in arms” draped in the Australian flag.
But the race wasn’t without mishap.
“I had a two-to-three minute lead out of the swim and I got half way through the second lap of the bike and Grant caught me,” said Craig, a five-time Australian World Championship representative who won the World 70.3 Age Group title at Mooloolaba in September.
“I tried to sit on his wheel and ended up crashing into a tree.
“But I picked myself up and we pretty much came off the bike together in the end before we ran toe to toe. I managed to get away from him in the second lap.
“And then coming towards the finish Grant was actually trying to catch me so I thought, let’s finish this off together so we did.”
Grant, who was competing in his first World Championships but has had experience in off-road mountain biking said sharing the experience with his brother was a special.
“We could not have hoped for a better result to share it with Craig was awesome,” said Grant.
It capped a big two days for the Geelong connection with Kate Bramley winning her age group yesterday and finishing second across the line to Kim Beckinsale while former Surf Lifesaving Ironwoman and Multi-Sport champion Naantali Marshall won her Age Group as well.
Coach Stephane Vander Bruggen “the man who makes it all happen” chipped in with a well-deserved third place in his 40-44 years age group.