Riviera Triathlon Club at ITU World Championships
Gold Coast, Queensland – Sunday 16th September 2018
Over 5,000 triathletes descended on Queensland’s sunny Gold Coast from 12th to 16th September for the International Triathlon Union (ITU) 2018 Triathlon World Championships. Bairnsdale was well represented, with professional triathlete Charlotte McShane placing 19th in the Elite Women category and Alexandra Keith placing 6th in the 30-34 year female Standard distance category.
The event marks the finale of the 2018 international triathlon season, with competitors from all over the world making the trek to the Gold Coast to watch their heroes compete in the final race of the professional season. Amateurs too had their opportunity to claim glory, representing their country in the ‘Sprint’ or ‘Standard’ distance races. Sprint distance competitors completed a 750m swim, 20km bike and 5km run course, while the Standard distance course consisted of a 1.5km swim, 40km ride and finally a 10km run.
Amateur triathletes could not have asked for better weather for their events – clear days with air temperatures around 24°C and water temperature 21°C. Unfortunately for the professionals strong winds came up for their afternoon races, creating difficult conditions for fast racing.
In the women’s elite race, Bairnsdale professional Charlotte McShane was in the second chasing pack coming out of the water, then worked hard to get herself into the lead pack by the end of the bike leg. Unfortunately she couldn’t hold this position through the run but still finished in a very respectable 19th place. Her race was won in a sprint finish by Aussie gun Ashleigh Gentle, who saw off strong challenges during the run leg from world championship winner Vicky Holland (UK) and runner-up Katie Zaferes (USA). This result boosted Ashleigh’s standing in the world championship to 6th place. The next best Australian was Natalie Van Coevorden, who placed 17th in the race and 11th in the world championship.
The men’s elite race was just as exciting, although no Australians made it on to the podium. An early breakaway on the bike by Norwegian Kristian Blummenfelt wasn’t enough to stay ahead of the world champions on the run leg. Frenchman Vincent Luis finished in first place, just ahead of world champion Mario Mola (Spain) who successfully defended his world title and becomes the first man to hold the world title for 3 successive years. Australian Jake Birtwhistle placed 7th in the after a strong finish on the run leg. This ensured Jake finished the season in 3rd position in the world championship. The next best Australian was Aaron Royle, who placed 22nd in the race and 17th in the world championship.
In the amateur races, Bairnsdale resident & Riviera Triathlon Club triathlete Alexandra Keith placed 6th out of 71 finishers in the 30-34 year female Standard distance category. While Alexandra felt that she didn’t have her best race on the day, the large contingent of her family and friends who made the journey to watch her race were all extremely happy with her result. This follows Alexandra’s bronze medal in the equivalent event in September 2017 (in Rotterdam, the Netherlands), 1st place in the 2018 Australian Championship race in Mooloolaba, QLD in March 2018 and 1st place at the Victorian qualifying event in Yarrawonga in October 2017. To cap it all off, during her journey home Alexandra found time to win her first Cross-Triathlon held at Fingal Bay, Port Stephens on Saturday 22nd September. This TrexTriathlon event consisted of a 1km ocean swim, 25km mountain bike ride and 8km trail/beach run.
Alexandra is now looking forward to a huge summer of triathlon, with major events including Yarrawonga in October, an adventure race in January and the Australian championships in March. Alexandra will also be setting the pace at Riviera Triathlon Club’s local events, including the weekly short course triathlons held at the BARC in Bairnsdale on Wednesday evenings from late October until April. These “Mini-Tris” are the perfect event for kids and adults to learn about the sport of triathlon and refine their triathlon skills in a fun and supportive environment. More details on Riviera Triathlon Club, including event details and dates, can be found at www.rivieratriclub.com.au.