Peter Robertson won the 15th annual Echuca-Moama Triathlon, finishing ahead of almost 300 competitors.By Zach Hubber
Three-time world champion Peter Robertson returned to competitive racing in fine fashion when he took out the 15th annual Echuca-Moama Triathlon on Saturday night in a time of one hour and 41 seconds.
It was Robertson’s first race in more than two years, but onlookers would not be blamed for thinking otherwise as he darted through the last leg of the event.
He led for most of the race and was never headed.
The Star Bar All Stars team of Brady Threlfall, Steve Gray and Shane Roberts was the first team across the line in 52:20.
Robertson said the twilight triathlon was a fun event to be part of.
‘‘I really enjoy the country feel of the whole race,’’ he said.
‘‘The racing’s fast-paced but the atmosphere’s a lot slower, so I enjoyed that side of it and it’s just well supported.
‘‘It feels like the whole town’s out here.’’
Robertson’s partner, Ange Ritchie, was the first woman competitor across the line and echoed Robertson’s sentiments.
‘‘I think it’s really fun, especially for people who know other people,’’ Ritchie said.
‘‘They can all be saying ‘hi’ to each other on the course and you notice it when you’re out there, that community feel.’’
The pair found the 700m swim along the Murray River the most challenging as they jostled for a good position.
‘‘I swallowed much more water just because of the mass start,’’ Ritchie said.
‘‘It was nuts. You get hit, you get pulled, you get the whole lot.
‘‘Usually it’s a lot more calmer at the swim line but not here.’’
Robertson was sure to tap into the local knowledge before starting the race.
‘‘I had a few tips from the locals to try and stay in the middle of the river for the current, but once I saw other people’s feet I swam with them instead,’’ he said.
‘‘I felt the best on the run and on the bike as I went further and further I felt better.
‘‘I probably wasn’t going at 100 per cent but I still had to go pretty hard.’’
The newly-crowned winner was fresh from a three-week training camp in Thredbo before the race and will now prepare for February’s Geelong Half-Ironman alongside Ritchie.
Echuca-Moama Triathlon Club president Andrew MacKenzie said he was happy with how the event ran.
‘‘It was a fantastic day,’’ he said.
‘‘It was a great turn out, great weather, and the bike course was absolutely spectacular.
‘‘The pubs and restaurants were busy because of it and everything went pretty smoothly.’’
MacKenzie was also rapt with how well the the inaugural teams category was received.
‘‘It’s a good starting point and we’ll be really driving for it next year,’’ he said.
One aspect of the race which had spectators concerned was the bike leg as cyclists and cars shared Echuca’s roads.
‘‘We’ll look further into traffic management with the bike course and see how we can separate vehicles and bikes,’’ MacKenzie said.
‘‘Even if it’s an hour or so, closing some sections and ensuring it’s more of a spectacle.’’
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