Two races. Two battles. Two different casts. Two similar races. Two different outcomes. In a day when youth battled experience the score came out one apiece with Damian Persen (experience) winning the men’s race and Ella Wooldridge (youth) winning the women’s race as a part of the 2018 ABC Bikes Macarthur Triathlon Championship today.
The Women’s race looked to be a battle between the defending champion Rachel Eagles, herself a seasoned international competitor, and the emerging elite junior athletes Ella Wooldridge and Aleesha Austin. True to prediction that’s what eventuated. Wooldridge and Austin were competing for the first time in the outright event and the pair of 16-year old’s lead out with a fast 500m swim. Gapping Eagles and former winners Fiona Taylor and Carol Wooldridge, the two teenagers set out at a fast pace on the bike.
Eagles, known for her biking prowess, used her abilities and training to reel in the lead two and eventually took a nearly 3-minute lead after the 20km run. Despite her lead Eagles knew Wooldridge had placed a target on her back and pushed as hard as she could over the ensuing 4km run to protect her lead. At the half way turn Wooldridge had closed the gap to Eagles with Austin a little further back. As the two leading women disappeared from sight the crowd knew what was going to happen. But would Wooldridge be able to shake Eagles?
Wooldridge rounded the corner through the forest on her own and took a clear victory. Eagles finished second, gracious in defeat, with Austin rounding out the podium.
“Rachel passed me on the bike with 4km left,” said Wooldridge. “I tried hard to hang onto her but she crept a bit further away with every lap. This was a big motivator for me to push even harder in my strongest leg-the run-to get what I really wanted! I caught Rachel with 1km of the run to go after fighting hard to chase her down. I think it’s good to carry the title through the family; I’m proud to have achieved something my mum has!”
The Men’s race also looked to be a battle of youth and experience with reigning champion Damian Persen faced with the prospect of open water swimming star Jackson Gray and junior elite triathlete Thomas Hine who was competing in his first attempt at the outright race.
Gray was by far the fastest through 500m in the pool and was onto the bike before anyone else had exited the pool. He put in a solid bike but Persen was flying. Using his strong bike skills, he pulled clear of Hine who had started the bike in second place and then ahead of Gray to be leading at the end of the 20km. At the same time a new man was sticking his head above the parapet; new member Kye Simpson proved to be an unknown quantity and a genuine contender using impressive skills to pull himself through the field.
Persen took off over the 4km of the run but was pushed by Simpson who claimed the silver medal in his first Macarthur Triathlon Championship. Gray made a welcome return to the podium with the bronze. Persen’s victory was even more impressive given that he was the reigning champion for both 2016 and 2017 and adds to his victory in 2013.
Altogether more than 70 athletes from age 4 competed in the Macarthur Triathlon Championship with age appropriate races for younger athletes and the outright and age-group championships for the older athletes. The race concluded the 2017-18 Macarthur Triathlon Series with the club scheduled to commence duathlon (run/bike/run) events in April. Details of the Macarthur Duathlon Series will be released on the club’s facebook page in the near future.
The club’s triathlon season continues with the NSW Club Championship in Orange, Ironman Australia in Port Macquarie and the Australian All Schools Triathlon in Penrith.
Founded in 1987, Macarthur Triathlon Club is the premier triathlon club in the southwest of Sydney. The club’s members include 2012 Olympic Bronze Medallist Erin Densham, World Triathlon Series race medallist Natalie Van Coevorden, members of NSW & regional junior elite programmes and amateur athletes of all ages and abilities. Macarthur Triathlon Club is a successful and diverse club that is proud of its family friendly, supportive atmosphere that encourages all athletes to achieve their best in all forms of multisport competition. Macarthur Triathlon Club is proud to be sponsored by the Wests Campbelltown and ABC Bikes.
For more information about Macarthur Triathlon Club, please visit the MTC website at http://www.mactri.com/or follow #teamMacTri on facebook at https://www.facebook.com/teamMacTrior instagram and twitter at @teamMacTri