After a serious cycling incident whilst training earlier in the year, Australia’s most successful long distance athlete Craig “Crowie” Alexander was ruled out of defending his title at the 2018 Ultimate Husky Triathlon Festival.
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Alexander’s exclusion from the event left the door wide open for a changing of the guard, with last year’s second runner-up Kieran Roche keen to cut the finish tape in 2018.
Among the other male professionals was 4-time Ironman Champion Tim Van Berkel, Naru Somi and last year’s second placed Michael Fox. The Pro field made up part of a 1000-strong field of competitors who competed in the Ultimate distance, a 2km swim, 83km bike ride and 20km run. The event was just one of 11 races that were held at the 2018 Shimano Husky Triathlon Festival in Huskisson.
In the Ultimate distance it was Fox and Roche that exited the water within 5 seconds of each other with Somi a further minute back. During the bike leg Roche kept Fox honest with the pair throwing down the hammer on the three-lap 83km course where the lead swapped a number of times. Out of transition and onto the run the final leg promised to be the highlight of the day with Fox holding onto a narrow 7 second lead as temperatures hit the early 30’s.
At the 7km mark Roche, who is known for being a strong runner, used his opportunity to pounce on Fox, taking the lead and storming to his maiden victory at the Husky Triathlon Festival finishing in a time of 3hrs 49minutes and 12secs, 3 minutes and 38 secs ahead of Fox (3.52.51) and Alex Reithmeier who ran himself through Somi (3.57.38) and into third place.
“Knowing that Crowie was out injured this year gave me great hope to come back and try and win it this year,” Roche said. “I love racing here, all the crowds cheering you on along the run course and through town.
“It was tough out there with the temperature picking up on the run, but I’m glad to come away with the win in front of all my friends and family.”
Eworal Bay’s Matt Lewis finished in sixth in the open men’s event, with a time of 04:05:59.
In the women’s race a last-minute decision to race proved to be fruitful for Jane Fardell as she took a 7-second lead onto the bike where she was able to further her lead by taking an extra 2mins 55 seconds out of Holly Khan. A pro triathlete who has had a recent stint in marathon circles, she looked at ease as she cruised to a female run of the day and the overall victory in the women’s race to finish in a time of 4hrs 25min 38sec.
In the minor placings in the Women’s Ultimate distance were valiant efforts by Khan (4.30.28) who has only recently stepped up to Elite level racing and Moya Johansson (4.35.37).
More than 4500 competitors from all around Australia competed over the Husky Triathlon festival with races on Saturday and Sunday ranging from the kids Blue Dinosaur MINIMAN Triathlon, the Ocean Swim and Fun Runs, to the Shimano Husky Long Course race. The 2018 festival was its 13th year and it is now the second largest festival of its kind in Australia.
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