Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Cooler conditions a welcome relief ahead of Echuca-Moama Triathlon

Organisers relieved with weather forecast.

LUKE MCMANUS January 18, 2014 4:45am

Steve Gray, Shane Roberts and Brady Threlfall were looking forward to the triathlon.

Forecast temperatures are expected to subside ahead of today’s Echuca-Moama Triathlon, which has race officials breathing a sigh of relief.

The mercury is tipped to drop about 10 degrees before tomorrow night’s event, a welcomed relief for racegoers and spectators after a series of 44°C plus days scorched the district during the week.

Race organiser Steve Gray has closely monitored conditions and will continue right up until the 6pm start, with a ‘Plan B’ mapped out if the heat prevails.

‘‘We’ve been keeping a close eye on the weather all week, it’s definitely been the talk of the triathlon,’’ Gray said.

‘‘In the case of extreme heat we would alter the race.

‘‘We would keep the swim leg obviously but shorten the cycle by a lap and halve the run.

‘‘We would also set up a lot more drink stations around the course so it wouldn’t be as much of a drain on competitors.

‘‘Thankfully it looks like there will be a cooler change, which we’re pleased about.’’

Gray said the number of entrants — about 200 — is down on this time last year but is predicting an increase in registrations prior to the race. He said the dip in temperature should prompt more to join the fun.

‘‘I think the weather has put a lot of people off,’’ he said.

‘‘I’m hoping the cooler change can swing a few people who may have been ‘umming and ahhing’ about entering — we don’t charge a late entrance fee either.’’

The action kicks off with a 700m swim in the Murray River.

Competitors will race downstream, from underneath the Echuca-Moama bridge, to the port precinct where the transition station will be set up.

Athletes will then collect their bikes and set off on the three-lap, 20km cycle around Echuca, before dismounting for the 5km run along the banks of Murray, in pursuit of the Hopwood Gardens finish line.

Tackling the course again will be the formidable On Your Bike team, who will be out to defend their 2013 title.

This year however, cyclist Shane Roberts and runner Brady Threlfall will be without teammate Gray.

Gray relinquished the swimming duties this year due to race-day commitments.

Instead, the responsibility will be on shoulders of 17-year-old Sam Bolitho who, from all reports, is a more than capable replacement.

All three members will be in sound condition leading into the race, in particular Threlfall, who has just returned from an 18-day trip to Falls Creek.

Threlfall trained twice a day during the camp, learning from some of Australia’s best middle to long-distance runners, including dual-Olympians Ben St Lawrence and Collice Birmingham.

Individual competitors during tomorrow night’s race will also be breathing a little easier, with defending champions Peter Robertson and Ange Ritchie unable to return to defend their titles, leaving the men’s and women’s classification wide open.

In the absence of Robertson, who is gearing up for the Auckland 70.3 Ironman on Sunday, former Echuca resident Brendan O’Laughlin will be hard to beat given his impressive form at this summer’s Gatorade series in Melbourne.

The Echuca-Moama triathlon is the second race of the regional series where participants from each classification earn points from each race in a bid to be crowned series champion.

Benalla’s triathlon has been run and won, with Albury-Wodonga, Horsham and Shepparton next on the agenda.

Race registration will take place at the port precinct between 3.30pm and 5.15pm, with a briefing for competitors at 5.30pm.

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