Walsh triumphs in adverse circumstances after he lost his water bottle early in the cycling leg.LUKE MCMANUS January 20, 2014 4:47am
Bendigo’s Fraser Walsh produced a lionhearted performance to claim individual honours in the Echuca-Moama Triathlon on Saturday.
Under physical duress and battling dehydration, Walsh finished the 700m swim, 20km cycle and 5km run in a time of 1:02:33, almost collapsing when he crossed the finish line.
As teammates and paramedics helped Walsh from the transition area to a shady sanctuary, news eventually filtered through of the reason behind the winner’s poor condition.
Walsh accidentally dropped his only water bottle during the opening lap of the bike leg, which starved the 19-year-old of vital fluids during the next two laps of the cycle (about 14km).
Walsh was forced to wait until the first drink station, about 2km into the run, but matters only worsened for the young athlete when the checkpoint was finally reached.
After dropping the first cup on offer by officials, Walsh spilled the second cup in a desperate and panicked attempt, managing less than a gulp of water.
‘‘That hurt a lot,’’ Walsh said.
‘‘I remember dropping (the water bottle) through the main area of town and my mouth was so dry for the rest of the ride.
‘‘Because I wore a wetsuit during the swim, which generated a lot of body heat, I was dehydrated even before I jumped on the bike.’’
Despite his distress, Walsh was able to secure his maiden triathlon win in what was the second round of the Rural Series, beating home Shepparton’s Chris Pye (1:03:27) and Bendigo teammate Nathan Meade (1:04:23).
Leading the individual competitors out of the water, courtesy of his superb 8:52 swim, Walsh produced a gallant ride amid the circumstances, only to be overtaken by Pye just 500m from transition.
‘‘I managed to catch (Pye) about 1km into the run,’’ Walsh said.
‘‘He hung around for a while but I was able to take off on him with about 2km to go.’’
Walsh said it took all his energy to take back the lead.
‘‘As soon as I caught Chris, I hit a wall and struggled after about the 2km mark,’’ he said.
‘‘I can’t really remember the last kilometre of the run. People told me that I had the wobbles right at the end and had to be helped to the ambulance by a few people.
‘‘I’m happy with my time. I would have liked to have broken the hour, but under the circumstances just happy to get the win and finish I guess.’’
In other results, Nathalia’s Matilda Terry claimed top honours in the women’s event, while On Your Bike trio Brady Threlfall, Shane Roberts and Sam Bolitho combined to win their second consecutive team title.
More coverage in Wednesday's Riverine Herald.
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