Lausanne, Switzerland 1st September 2019
Three Bairnsdale locals were among 350 triathletes representing Australia at the ITU World Triathlon Championships in the Olympic Capital of Lausanne, Switzerland between 29th August and 1st September. Overall, more than 4000 people from all over the world competed across the various categories of triathlon racing. Anyone expecting cooler temperatures or even snow on the mountains was disappointed as a late summer heatwave held sway over the weekend. Temperatures above 30 degrees and high humidity were certainly a shock for those acclimatised to a Bairnsdale winter. The Swiss hills, however, were not a surprise - the run and bike legs of each triathlon event featuring some arduous climbing to test the legs of even the best-trained athletes.
The elite juniors (under 19s) started proceedings on Thursday 29th August, competing in sprint distance triathlons - 750m swim, 20km bike and 5km run.
Australia was well-represented with three starters in each of the male and female races. Australian Locarn Redmond placed 2nd in the junior male race, in a blistering time of 55 minutes & 12 seconds. Charlotte Derbyshire was the best placed Australian female, finishing 20th.
On the following day, Friday 30th August, the elite under 23s attracted a large crowd, again competing in separate male and female sprint distance triathlons.
Kira Hedgeland was the best placed of the three Australians in the female race, finishing 5th. There were five Australians in the male event, with Brandon Copeland finishing 5th and Matt Hauser finishing in 9th position.
Friday also saw a more casual ‘open’ triathlon, with staff from local businesses competing in an evening relay teams event, in a similar format to the Bairnsdale Corporate Triathlon.
Saturday morning saw the amateur Sprint distance World Championship, with thousands of athletes from all over the world competing across the 750m swim, 20km ride and 5km run. Competitors were split into categories based on age and gender, with each category starting in a separate wave. These staggered waves began at 7am, with the final athletes commencing their races at 11:30am. Australia’s 171 competitors picked up a total of 10 podium places across all categories, including two gold medals.
On Saturday afternoon the best triathletes in the world competed in their final race for the season - open elites racing an olympic distance triathlon of 1.5km swim, 40km bike and 10km run. On the day, Norway’s Kristian Blummenfelt proved too strong in the men’s race, while the USA’s Katie Zaferes bested two Great Britain triathletes in a sprint finish to win the women’s race. Australia had five competitors in each of the male and female events, with the best placed male Aaron Royle finishing 16th and the best placed female Ashleigh Gentle finishing 22nd. Bairnsdale professional triathlete Charlotte McShane finished in 42nd position.
After a season of 10 races across five continents held over six months, Frenchman Vincent Luis was crowned male World Champion and USA triathlete Katie Zaferes took home the title of female World Champion. Australian Aaron Royle finished the season in 6th position, while Emma Jackson was the top Australian female in 18th position. Charlotte McShane finished the 2019 season in 58th position.
On Sunday morning the amateur Olympic distance triathlon World Championship was held in the Olympic Capital. Bairnsdale locals Alexandra Keith (female 30-34yr category) and David Kinsey (male 30-34yr age category) were among 187 Australians to take their places on the start line, having qualified by placing in the top 25 in three separate Australian qualifying races last summer. Alex had a late scare on the morning of the race, finding her bike tyre had a puncture after leaving the bike in transition overnight. Luckily the Australian team bike mechanic was on hand to fix the issue with minimal fuss. Once across the start line Alex had a great race, finishing in 10th place in her category (out of 93 finishers) despite finding the hilly course very difficult. Dave crossed the finish line in a more modest 87th position (of 114 finishers), his race being hampered by a calf complaint and an obvious lack of concrete in his diet. Both thoroughly enjoyed the event, especially the opportunity to travel and mix with amateurs and professionals who share their love of triathlon. While it is tough to find the motivation to train through a dark and cold Bairnsdale winter, events like this more than repay the time and effort invested. Australian Olympic distance amateur athletes brought home a total of nine medals, including three golds and the honour of setting the fastest race time for the day (30-34yr male Ryan Christian in an unbelievable time of two hours zero minutes and sixteen seconds 2:00:16).
The weekend of triathlon was capped by paratriathlon events and an elite mixed relay triathlon on Sunday afternoon. Australian Lauren Parker picked up her maiden World Championship crown in the female paratriathlon after just two years in the sport.
For the relay triathlon, the elite juniors and under 23s returned to compete for their countries. Each country fielded a team consisting of four athletes, two male & two female. Each athlete completed a 300m swim, 4.8km bike and 1.4km run before handing the baton on to the next team member. Competitors had to brave the only poor weather for the whole weekend, with a mild wind blowing in a heavy shower for the last 10mins of the race. The New Zealand team placed first in this event in front of Great Britain, with the Australian team (Kira Hedgeland, Matt Hauser, Joanne Miller and Luke Willian) finishing in a very respectable 6th position.
Bairnsdale amateurs Alex Keith and Dave Kinsey now turn their attention to the local triathlon season, which includes Riviera Triathlon Club’s weekly mini triathlon series starting on Wednesday 9th October at the Bairnsdale Aquatic & Recreation Centre. Check out the club’s website or Facebook page for more details.