Ashleigh Gentle has claimed a record 10th title at the 40th anniversary edition of the Garmin Noosa Triathlon, while Kiwi Hayden Wilde won his first in a new course best time.
Gentle lived up to her billing as the Queen of the Noosa Triathlon as she ran her way to victory, a 10th title and her ninth on the bounce, in a time of 1:55:13. It was an all-Australian women’s podium, with Sophie Malowiecki second and 21-year-old Richelle Hill third.
“Each year has been really enjoyable, and I’ve had fun each year but 10 victories, what else can I ask for,” said Gentle.
“It’s an incredible feat and I’m actually really proud that each year no matter what happens I kind of find a way to bring the best out of myself at Noosa. I think from here on in I’ll just enjoy it even more.
“Just before I ran over the Garth Prowd bridge it was a bit of a heck yes moment, that kind of summarises the day, it was pretty surreal and I think a weight off the shoulders that’s for sure.”
Gentle was 12th out of the water, 1:45 down on the fastest swimmer Mikayla Messer. It didn’t take her long to join the leaders on the bike however, with a group of seven women forming who would go on to ride together for the rest of the bike leg and enter T2 still together as a group.
The run is where Gentle really comes into a league of her own, and that was the case once again in Noosa as she hit the front early and kept her foot down for the whole 10 kilometres. By the halfway point she’d opened up a 42 second lead on Hill and would eventually finish nearly two minutes ahead of runner-up Malowiecki.
“I don’t underestimate the other girls, they’re really quick over 10k and Richelle Hill is a great new talent for Australia, I knew she was a good runner so I made sure I hit my stride really early on and try to break the elastic band pretty quickly and just try to extend that lead as much as I could over the 10k,” said Gentle.
The emotion of her achievement struck Gentle as she entered the finish chute and took the Noosa Triathlon tape for the 10th time.
“I actually felt really good today, it was a fast day. I felt in control and quite composed the whole time so it more just the relief. I did feel quite calm before and into the race, but there’s definitely been a huge build up to this race, a lot of media interviews and sponsor commitments before the race and obviously the 40th anniversary happened to coincide with going for my 10th win, it kind of added another layer of emotional, not stress, but fatigue during the week so to be able to actually get a good race under my belt and that victory, it was just relief.”
Hayden Wilde, a bronze medallist from the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, arrived on the Sunshine Coast as the pre-race favourite for his first attempt at the iconic Noosa Triathlon.
The Kiwi didn’t disappoint, putting on a show for the thousands of spectators who lined the streets to become the first international male athlete to win the Noosa Triathlon since Joe Malloy (USA) in 2015.
“I’m stoked, the day was awesome, the atmosphere was epic,” said Wilde.
“It didn’t disappoint, everyone was talking about the Noosa Tri and how awesome it is and finally here myself and really experienced the feelings. The course is amazing, the roads were just pristine out there and just made us ride so fast.”
Wilde set a new overall course best time of 1:41:56, lowering the previous best time set last year by over a minute. Australian Matt Hauser finished second, also in a time that was quicker than the previous course best, with South African Henri Schoeman in third.
“The boys didn’t give it to me easy. The experience, even though we’re all suffering out there, even the people racing were giving me a good cheer, the vibe out there was awesome and to get a course record was truly epic. I couldn’t have done it without the boys out there today, they really pushed me, and this is what I needed to do,” said Wilde.
“The support was awesome the whole way home and that last kilometre, I couldn’t hear myself it was absolutely epic.
“It’s always nice to beat the Aussies, we lost a couple of sports against them over the past couple of months so yeah it was nice to bring it home, especially in Australia, we have that rivalry but we love each other at the end of the day and it’s just nice the camaraderie of everyone coming together here and I was really stoked.”
Wilde had work to do after the swim, exiting the water in ninth place and 42 seconds down on the leader Jamie Riddle, but it didn’t take him long to bridge the gap to the front group on the bike and by the 13-kilometre mark he had taken the lead.
Wilde had pulled away from Hauser over the second half of the 40km bike to enter T2 with a 33 second lead but after losing his way through transition, he and Hauser would hit the run course side by side.
“I had a bit of a shoddy swim, but I was expecting to be a bit off the back of those really strong boys at the front. I rode really strong and coming onto the run, had a bit of a fumble coming into transition, I got a bit lost and looked back and saw Matt and though dammit. I ran pretty hard over the first 5k to get a bit of a gap and then I was not letting down over the last 2k, I looked back and Matt was still there – we race each other all season, I know how dangerous he is over the last 2k so I didn’t know I had it in the bag until about 200 metres to go,” he said.
Wilde completes his debut Noosa Triathlon having accomplished what he set out to do – take the win and break the course best time. Race schedule permitting, he hopes to be back next year to do the same again.
“It was really nice getting under the course record, that’s what I was actually aiming to come here for so I’m absolutely stoked, the atmosphere was amazing and really happy to bring it home.
“If the schedule permits, if it’s around this time next year, it’s before the IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship in Taupō so I think it would actually be a really good teaser before that race so hopefully I’ll be back here next year to give it another crack and if I don’t mess up transition, next year I can go a little bit faster,” said Wilde.
The 40th running of the Noosa Triathlon sees thousands of athletes taking on a 1.5km swim, 40km ride and 10km run, with many more still to cross the finish line today.
Noosa Triathlon is supported by the Queensland Government, through Tourism and Events Queensland, and features on the It’s Live! in Queensland events calendar.
Noosa Triathlon Elite Men
1. Hayden Wilde (NZL) – 1:41:56
2. Matt Hauser (AUS) – 1:42:09
3. Henri Schoeman (RSA) – 1:44:20
4. Jake Birtwhistle (AUS) – 1:45:23
5. Kurt McDonald (AUS) – 1:47:17
6. Jamie Riddle (RSA) – 1:48:33
7. Jack Sosinski (AUS) – 1:49:02
8. Brandon Copeland (AUS) – 1:49:44
9. Jarrod Osborne (AUS) – 1:50:49
10. Rory Thornhill (AUS) – 1:52:43
Noosa Triathlon Elite Women
1. Ashleigh Gentle (AUS) – 1:55:13
2. Sophie Malowiecki (AUS) – 1:56:49
3. Richelle Hill (AUS) – 1:57:14
4. Hanne De Vet (BEL) – 1:58:55
5. Charlotte McShane (AUS) – 2:00:16
6. Lotte Wilms (NLD) – 2:00:25
7. Jaz Hedgeland (AUS) – 2:00:38
8. Kira Hedgeland (AUS) – 2:00:51
9. Fenella Langridge (GBR) – 2:01:24
10. Milan Agnew (AUS) – 2:01:53