Near perfect conditions greeted the 1500 strong field of participants at the SunSmart Busselton Festival of Triathlon over the weekend. The event that was originally scheduled for May 2020, incorporates the SunSmart IRONMAN 70.3 Busselton, SunSmart Kids Triathlon, FunMan triathlon and event village, along the pristine foreshore of Busselton, Western Australia.
Saturday morning was host to the IRONMAN 70.3, a 1.9km swim, 90.1km cycle and 21.1km run with over 800 individuals and 120 teams taking on the challenge. The event for 2020 was an age group only race, with participants aged from 18 years to our oldest competitor, Ron Richards of 76 years old. A true testament that the sport of triathlon is for everyone.
There was a buzz around the event site on Saturday morning, as the WA community embraced the opportunity to take part in the first major triathlon event since the COVID pandemic. The age group athletes made their way to the start line in front of the Goose Café to take on the 1.9km swim.
Along side the IRONMAN 70.3 event was the Triathlon WA State Long Course Open Championships. This event across the same distance, provided an opportunity for professional and open athletes from Western Australia to be crowned State Open Long Course Champion. Kurt Wesley (North Coast Tri Club) took an early lead on the swim in his first race of this distance, leading the men’s field out the water, with the likes of Olympic Triathlete, Ryan Bailie (Bunubry Tri Club) and Professional Triathlete, Matt Burton (Oceanic Tri Club) chasing on the bike course. Burton and Bailie took the lead on the bike course and continued to push ahead with Wesley, Guy Crawford (Fremantle Tri Club) and Blake Kappler (North Coast Tri Club) continuing to chase.
In the women’s field, Dimity-Lee Duke (Bunbury Tri Club), who has returned back to WA after living overseas, took an early lead on the swim ahead of Catherine Rose and Katherine Ryan (both from Stadium Tri Club). The three female competitors completed the 90.1km bike course all within a minute of each other, leaving it to the run to determine the winner.
Burton showed his class on the run pulling away from Bailie to finish in a time of 3:43:50, just short of the course record. Bailie held on in a sprint finish with Kappler to round out the podium. Duke showed her experience in long course racing to pull away from the women’s field to finish in a time of 4:33, with Ryan placing in second 4:43 and Rose rounding out the podium and her first open race in a time of 4:44.
Brett Johnson (Rockingham Tri Club) recorded the fastest time in the Age Group event finishing in 3:57. Ann Brinkamp (Bunbury Tri Club) took out the women’s field in a time of 4:33.
The IRONMAN 70.3 was a qualification event for the IRONMAN 70.3 World Championships in UTAH and for the ITU World Championships to be held in Almere, Netherlands both in 2021.
The Festival of Triathlon continued on the Sunday with the SunSmart Kids Triathlon where over 250 children aged 7-15 had their opportunity to take on a swim, bike and run either on their own or with one of their parents. Professional athletes greeted them at the finish line handing over their finisher medals and taking the opportunity for photographs with our next generation of triathletes.
The weekend was rounded out with the FunMan triathlon. An opportunity for members of the community, volunteers, staff and triathletes to race as teams across a short and fast distance. The friendly rivalry and costumes on show summed up the Busselton Festival of Triathlon – a community focused event, with something for everyone to be part of.
The 20th edition of the Busselton Festival of Triathlon will take place on 1 May 2021. Triathlon WA would like to thank their ongoing sponsors and supporters of this event and look forward to celebrating our 20th year in Busselton in 2021.
IMAGE: Clip Media Motion