|On eve of the annual E&E Waste Hell of the West, Goondiwindi was hit with a massive dust and wind storm with winds of over 80km/hr. The storm had 500 visiting athletes thinking they had really just entered HELL. However the weather cleared and the army of volunteers were able to rebuild the course to ensure it was ready for the 28th edition of this iconic race. |
As the elite field were introduced to the crowd that had gathered at on the banks of river it was clear the favourites to take out the HOTW 2019 were the defending champions and race course record holders, Max Neumann and Sarah Crowley.
The siren sounded the start as first light appeared on the MacIntrye river and all athletes knew they were in for one Hell of a tough day.
In the males race, Max was the first to exit the water with a slippery 26min 19sec 2km swim, which gave him a 2 minute lead on to the bike. Knowing Max’s prowess on the bike and run it was obvious the rest of the boys were now racing for second. By the the 40km turn on the bike leg, the chase group of Sam Betten, Fraser Walsh, Ben Cook and Simon Hearn were working hard but had not closed the gap to Max.
Neumann finished the 80km bike in a time of 1hr 55min and was quickly into his run and never looked back. Even with the hot streamy conditions following the storm the previous day Max was flying, rounding off his day in style by breaking the long standing run course record, with a 1:08:50 and galloping across the finish line with a super impressive HOTW record time of 3:30:10.
In the females race it was not surprising to see up-and-coming Holly Grice leading the front pack of males out of the water. But it didn’t take long for Sarah Crowley to catch Holly on the bike and then continue to dominate with a powerful 2:01 bike split.
On to the run, and it was game over as Sarah powered through the 20k run in 1:18:37 absolutely smashing her previous record by 8mins with total time of 3:50:05. WOW!!! While the winners might have streaked the field, the battle for the podium was much tighter. In the men’s, 2 x HOTW winner Sam Betten was forced to withdraw with a running injury so it was left to a tight battle between Victoria’s, Fraser Walsh, and Queensland’s, Ben Cook and Simon Hearn. For most of the 20km run they were matching each other but in the end the order didn’t change and they crossed the line within 1 minute of each other. Fraser Walsh taking 2nd (3:39:42) and Ben Cook 3rd (3:39:59) only 15 seconds in front of Simon Hearn.
Like the men’s the podium on the females was very close with the very talented Els Visser of the Netherlands setting up her 2nd place with a very strong bike of 2:07:54 and holding off Brisbane’s fast finishing Emily Donker who took 3rd in her very first professional race.
After the Pros had finished it was up the the Age Groupers to battle it out to be crowned HOTW and Triathlon Queensland’s Long Course Champion. Some notable performances were: Sean Richardson who was the first age grouper across the line (3:53:39) which placed him 5th overall, Towoomba Triathlon Club’s rising star Dominic Churchett wasn’t far behind (3:55:39) and Nathan Josefski who is a teacher at Tara and a member of the Goondiwindi Triathlon Club nearly broke the 4hr barrier on his way to 8th overall (4:00:46). First female age grouper home was Ashleigh Hunter in a time of 4:27:44 and special mention the Goondiwindi Tri Club Secretary Sally Poole placing 2nd in her age group. Way to go Sal.
The athletes continued to cross the line as the day heated up, with some very special athletes completing milestones. Allan Moustoukas had to fight the flood waters from Ayr to get to the start line of his 15th consecutive HOTW. Gareth Buckley (60-64yrs) and Allan Pitman (70-74 yrs) completed their 27th and 26th HOTW’s respectively, which is an amazing effort and both winning their Age Group. Stay tuned for an update on all consecutive finishers of 2018 & 2019 over the coming weeks.
There were also Team events going on at the same time with some very impressive leg splits. Talented young local athlete Cooper Timms was the fastest team swimmer with a 31:48 giving ‘TEAM Starfish’ the lead. However they knew the lead wouldn’t last long with monster biker Peter Gwynne laying down the days fastest split of 1:52:04, smashing the HOTW KOM on strava in the process. This put ‘TEAM Financing and Property’ in front but the lead wasn’t enough to hold off ‘TEAM Pretenders’ (Tyrone Easterbrook, Warwick Sinclair & Adam Lacey) with their runner Warwick Sinclair posting fastest team run of 1:18:17 to take the overall win. Local female team ‘Thompson Twins’, Nikko Siddons and Marn Wood (both née Thompson) had a great day out, with Marn posting an impressive 2:27:05 bike split and Nikko running up a storm with a 1:22:01 to take the top spot.
Competitors continued to battle the elements and get to the finish line and into the care of the best recovery tent in triathlon. The final competitors Ellie Luhr and Annie Wood crossed the line together to the cheers of the crowd at about 12:30pm to finish what had been the best HOTW yet.
The feedback of the event in the recovery tent was glowing and as per usual the teams of HOTW volunteers had gone above and beyond their roles to ensure all athletes have an experience they will never forget and show the triathlon world there is no other race like Goondiwindi’s HELL OF THE WEST.
This year also saw the second running of the GTH+ Super Saturday events and boy was it a raging success. The day started at 7am with 115 runners in the GUNDY INFERNO 5km and 10km charity run, with all proceeds going to PCYC and CARE Goondiwindi. Followed by 80 competitors in the FIRESTARTER Triathlon (200m swim/7.5Km bike/2km run) which was double the amount from last year. And the day rounded out with the HELL KIDS triathlon that saw 150 kids aged 7-11yrs grimace, battle and finally smile their way across the line. These events are such a good way to connect the local community to the HOTW and hopefully one day these participants can move up and take on the full HOTW challenge.
There are so many stories of courage out on there on the race course and there are as many within the volunteer committee of this massive weekend. One in particular stands out this year. Post the storm hitting the course late on Saturday afternoon, Caroline Fergurson and her daughter Zoe proceeded to hand sweep the whole run course well into the evening! They weren’t ask to do this, they did it to ensure the safety of the athletes and the presentation of their town. And you know what? They couldn’t have been happier to do it and if it happens again next year I am positive they would do it all again.
So to all our Athletes/Sponsors/Vendors and Volunteers please save the date, 8th and 9th Feb 2020 and come back and do it all again. The Goondiwindi Triathlon Club will be ready to make HOTW 2020 another great success.
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