Ben Allen and Penny slater successfully defended their titles winning the 2019 Cross Triathlon National Championships at Lake Crackenback in the NSW Snowy Mountains today.
Line honours went to off road royalty Allen and wife Jacqui Slack (GBR) after the 1500m swim in Lake Crackenback, followed by a technical and demanding 30km mountain bike ride, before finishing with a 10km rocky trail run.
In the men’s race it was a wire-to-wire win for Wollongong’s Allen who took off from the gun and didn’t look back. Queenslander Dean Cane chased hard all day for the silver while New Zealander Rowan Beggs-French nabbed the bronze.
“I feel pretty good, it’s always a prestigious honour winning a national championship, I’ve won a few but it only gets better and better each and every time.
“I led from the gun and played pretty much catch me if you can. I never looked back, I was always chasing myself and chasing that performance I was after,” said Allen.
Allen laid it down from the gun today swimming away from the field in the first 100m to his own surprise.
“To be honest I didn't’ think I was going that hard, I just tried to settle into my pace and before I knew it I looked back and there was no one there.
“I’m always slower on the first lap, I’m a surf swimmer and I like grinding it out, that’s my type of swimming. The second lap I laid the foundation and never looked back,” he added.
On the 30km technical mountain bike course Allen took the unusual option of the ‘B’ line.
‘A’ line is for the competent or elite riders that can negotiate a technical section.
The ‘B’ line is the so-called Chicken run – a much easier path to negotiate and less chance of crashing and coming unstuck.
“It’s not always the case that the A line might be the fastest, for me I sussed out the course beforehand and the ‘B’ line was way faster than the ‘A’ line and you hold speed through the ‘B’ line compared to the ‘A’ line.
“This race is all about efficiency and being fast on the bike, the ‘A’ line doesn’t necessarily always mean it’s always fastest.
“For me I stuck to what I know and that’s the experienced athlete coming out in me now I’ve done a few of these,” said Allen.
It paid dividends for the wily Allen claiming another Australian Title.
It was a seesawing race in the women’s event as Slack took the lead out of the swim and put her very technical bike skills to good use over this tough course. Unlike her husband Slack took the ‘A’ line through the track, playing to her strengths.
But the former Under 23 world champion from the ACT Slater found her stride on the run, taking the lead on the first lap half way round.
Its was physically and mentally a challenge for this pair who do a lot of training together and know each others strengths and weaknesses so well.
Slater looked to have the edge in the final stages but when Slack asked her mum how Benny went and heard he had won it was enough for her to put in a final surge to take the win.
“It’s always a tough race here, despite there’s not many hills the altitude and atmosphere really takes it out of you.
“It’s really funny, I coach Penny and I know how well she’s going right now and I got a bit of an edge on the swim and was hoping for a bit more of a gap on the bike but I didn’t, so it was going to come down to a running race. I just had to bide my time,” said Slack.
“I sort of know Penny strengths and weaknesses and I know she’s a hill runner so I had to sort of put the hammer down on the flat section on the hill and it paid off,” said Slack.
Slater wasn’t too disappointed with second as it meant she defended her national title.
“It’s always cool to take out the national title, Jacquie is pretty much an Aussie now but I’ll take it when I can get it,” said Slater.
“Racing at Crackenback is always a lot of fun. This is the closest I’ve ever been to Jacquie in the race, we passed each other a few couple in the run, and she put down the hammer on the last K and got me.
“I saw her on the run and then I heard that Beno (Ben Allen) won and I’d just overtaken Jacquie and I though oh ooh I know I’m in trouble here.
“She knows me so well and I know her well, we’ve been training a lot together this year and if I’m honest I played right into her hands I probably did exactly what she wanted me to do, cook myself so she could overtake me,” said Slater.
Allen and Slater will now turn their focus to the ITU Pontevedra Multisport World Championships in April.
The elite event was followed by a large contingent of athletes competing for the National Age Group Championship title.
1. Ben Allen (NSW)
2. Dean Cane (QLD)
3. Rowan Beggs-French (NZL)
1. Jacqui Slack (GBR)
2. Penny Slater (ACT)
3. Kate Bramley (VIC)