In addition to our featured coverage of Ironman Malaysia and Ironman Arizona, the Weekend Box offers a roundup of triathletic action in Australia and Texas, and honors bestowed upon British triathletes for their 2015 derring-do.
Luke Bell and Rebekah Keat win Challenge Shepparton
Australians Luke Bell and Rebekah Keat won home town victories at the half distance Challenge Shepparton on Sunday in Victoria, Australia.
Bell outpaced Samuel Betten with a dominating bike leg and Keat’s superior swim bested bike and run equal Yvonne Van Vlerken for the elite titles.
Bell exited the swim within 14 seconds of swim leaders Nick Kastelein (23:17 split), Sam Betten and Mike Phillips. Bell then destroyed the field with a race-best 2:06:46 bike leg that gave him a 7 minutes lead on the three faster swimmers. Bell held on with a 3rd-best 1:17:55 run split that brought him to the finish in 3:51:23 with a 3:54 margin of victory. Betten posted a race-best 1:14:54 half marathon split to run down Kastelein in the final kilometers to take the runner-up slot, 32 seconds ahead of 3rd-place finisher Kastelein.
“It looks easy, but it was painful and it’s always good to win from the front,” said Bell who added that he embraced the stiff breeze. “I was quite happy when I woke up his morning and saw the winds. It’s hard conditions to race in, you’re conscious not to over pace into the headwinds and the tailwinds you’re trying to hold wattage and stay on pace.”
Bell kept his cool on the first two of three 7km run laps, and then hit the gas near the end to seal the win. “I went out steady, maintained the second lap and then dropped three quick k’s at about 3:45 kph pace to make sure I could get to that last out and back and be able to enjoy the final 3k home,” said Bell.
Radka Vodickova of the Czech Republic led the swim in 25:08, which gave her a 23 seconds lead on Keat, 1:46 on Vanessa Murray and 3:37 on Keat’s Team Sirius teammate Yvonne Van Vlerken of Netherlands. Van Vlerken made up 1:38 with a women's-best 2:20:15 bike split, while Vodickova suffered mechanical issues and a flat tire. Vodickova thus limped into T2 with a 2:34:21 split that left her 14 minutes down and out of contention for the win.
Van Vlerken tried hard to erase her 2 minutes deficit, but after two laps Keat increased her lead to 2:25. Keat then had a scare on that final lap. “I felt great on the run and I wanted to negative split it but I felt a twinge in my calves with 2km to go,” said Keat. “I stopped for a little bit to see if I could push through, popped some Nurofen and got through it.”
Keat then held serve on the run as her women’s 2nd-fastest 1:23:24 half marathon out-split Van Vlerken by 25 seconds. Keat took her 4th Shepparton victory in 4:13:47 with a 2:24 margin of victory over Van Vlerken and 14:42 on 3rd-place finisher Vodickova.
Keat said she had some extra motivation to beat her fellow Siri Lindley-coached friend. “I was racing so hard because Yvonne won every single race [against me] this year,” said Keat. “She told me I was faster on the short stuff but I beg to differ.”
Keat greeted Van Vlerken with a beer shower at the finish. “This is her race,” said Van Vlerken. “This is like Challenge Roth is for me. I’ve won that race four times and now she has won Shepparton four times. She is my good friend and I am so proud of her.”
Shepparton, Victoria, Australia
November 15, 2015
S 1.2 mi. / B 56 mi. / R 13.1 mi.
1. Luke Bell (AUS) 3:51:23
2. Samuel Betten (AUS) 3:55:17
3. Nick Kastelein (AUS) 3:55:49
4. Roger Barnes (GBR) 3:58:47 * M30-34
5. Mike Phillips (NZL) 4:00:59
1. Rebekah Keat (AUS) 4:13:47
2. Yvonne Van Vlerken (NED) 4:16:11
3. Radka Vodickova (CZE) 4:28:29
4. Hannah Lawrence (NZL) 4:38:46
5. Vanessa Murray (AUS) 4:39:25 * F30-34
Jeff Wilson and Kirsten Sass win USAT Long Course Duathlon Nationals
Jeff Wilson of Akron, Ohio and Kirsten Sass of McKenzie, Tennessee won the overall titles at the USA Triathlon Long Course Duathlon National Championship held at the Texas Motor Speedway in Ft. Worth, Texas.
Wilson combined a race-best 31:52 for the opening 10k run, a 2nd-fastest 1:02:55 split for the 42km bike leg, and a by-far men’s-best 16:04 split for the concluding 5k run. Wilson finished in 1:51:51 to win the men’s overall title with a 42 seconds margin of victory over men’s 35-39 winner Chad Grundy of Rogers Arizona, and 2:12 over 3rd-place overall finisher Thomas Woods of Lincoln, Nebraska.
Previously, Wilson was 2nd at the 2014 USA Triathlon Long Course Duathlon Nationals, 3rd overall at the 2013 USA Triathlon Long Course Duathlon Nationals and 3rd overall at the 2013 ITU Long Distance Duathlon World Championship.
Sass, who also won the women’s 35-39 category, combined women's-best splits in all three disciplines - a 35:27 10k run, a 1:06:40 bike leg and an 18:24 5k run - to finish in 2:01:21 with a 9:49 margin of victory over 2nd overall finisher and women’s 30-34 winner Jill Deering of Santa Barbara, California and 12:19 over 3rd-place women’s overall finisher Allie Norman of Jacksonville Beach, Florida.
Sass is finishing a tremendous 2015 winning season, which also includes overall victories at the USAT Long Course Triathlon Nationals, the USAT Duathlon Nationals and the ITU World Championship Grand Final women's 35-39 crowns at the Olympic and sprint distances.
USA Triathlon Long Course Duathlon National Championship
Ft. Worth, Texas
November 14, 2015
R 10k / B 42k / R 5k
1. Jeff Wilson (Copley OH) 1:51:51 * M30-34
2. Chad Grundy (Rogers AR) 1:52:33 * M35-39
3. Thomas Woods (Lincoln NE) 1:54:03* M40-44
1. Kirsten Sass (McKenzie TN) 2:01:21 * F35-39
2. Jill Deering (Santa Barbara CA) 2:11:10 * F30-34
3. Allie Norman (Jacksonville Beach FL) 2:13:40 * F30-34
British Triathlon Awards ceremony honors top UK triathletes of 2015
After a successful season at different distances, British Triathlon honored the country’s top performers at a Saturday banquet.
Jonathan Brownlee won the British Triathlon Male Triathlete of the Year Award for his two WTS series wins at Auckland and the Gold Coast.
Brownlee said “I haven’t had my best year with injuries and so it’s a great feeling to pick this award up.”
ITU World triathlon Grand Final silver medalist Non Stanford was named Olympic Athlete of the Year. This award is presented to each of the 33 Olympic Governing Bodies on an annual basis, to recognize their top Olympic athlete. Stanford came back from injury to take silvers at both the Rio Olympic test event and the Grand Final, thus qualify for a starting spot in the 2016 Olympics.
“When you’re from this crop of athletes where talent is in abundance, it’s quite an honor to receive it, really,” said Stanford. “It’s nice for both Vicky [Holland] and I to be recognized this year after we brought home the silverware during the season.”
The British Triathlon Elite Female Triathlete of the Year award went to Vicky Holland, who earned this accolade for her first WTS victory at Cape Town and her podiums at the WTS Grand Final and at the Rio Olympic test event. Holland also earned a starting spot at Rio.
British Triathlon Male and Female Elite Long Distance Triathletes of the Year awards went to Tim Don and Lucy Gossage.
British Triathlon Male and Female Elite Duathletes of the Year awards went to Phil Wylie and Emma Pooley.