In 2000 an up and coming Australian athlete stormed to victory at the Benalla Triathlon.By Damen Francis
In 2000 an up and coming Australian athlete stormed to victory at the Benalla Triathlon.
Twelve years, one Commonwealth Games gold and three world championship bronze medals later and Brad Kahlefeldt returned to comfortably win his second title at Benalla on Saturday.
The 33-year-old officially clocked in at 54
Bell, who has won the race on five occasions, was not present to defend his crown.
It was a dominant performance from Kahlefeldt, who never looked back after taking the lead on the bike leg, and he was not too concerned with not setting a new record.
‘‘Some people tell me it was even, some not, but it doesn’t really matter, I’m very happy with how I went,’’ Kahlefeldt said.
‘‘I wanted a really hard swim-bike, that was the key for me.
‘‘I’ve had an Achilles problem the last couple of months, so I wasn’t really sure how I would go on the run.
‘‘I just wanted to push the bike as hard as I could to build a bit of a buffer, but once I was on the run I felt really good.’’
Kahlefeldt finished ahead of Lachlan Kerin (58:03) and Stephane Vander Bruggen (58:50) in negotiating the scenic course, which featured a 750
After spending the majority of his career racing overseas Kahlefeldt admitted it was ‘‘a nice change’’ to race in regional Australia again.
‘‘It’s just something completely different, different racing, there is no drafting and that’s what I wanted, different athletes and this is where I started in the sport,’’ he said.
‘‘Growing up in Wagga this is what I did every weekend, so it’s nice to get back to my roots.
‘‘Twelve years ago I was just an under-23 athlete trying to make it in the game of triathlon and a lot has happened in the last 12 years, I’ve done some big races in between and travelled the world and basically spent half my life overseas, so it’s nice to come back to where it all started.
‘‘The locals are out there supporting it and these are the races that hopefully can get people into the sport.’’
The race also marked the first time Kahlefeldt had raced against his younger brother Jared, who finished seventh in 1.00:31.
Geelong-based Melbourne triathlete Sarah Lester (1.04:24) was the first woman across the line more than three minutes ahead of second-placed Jacinta Collier (1.07:42).
Lester said her triumph made up for the disappointment of last year.
‘‘I’ve never competed here before, (but) I was going to compete here last year and sadly had to pull out due to illness, so I was really glad to be able to have a hit out up here,’’ Lester said.
‘‘(It was) a good field, a small field, but definitely a quality field and an amazing course, (there was) a variety of trails and the trails in the run were brilliant, I loved that.’’
The 27-year-old admitted she used the event as ‘‘more of a training exercise’’, but was pleasantly surprised with her performance on the run and said she would ‘‘definitely be back next year’’.
Numbers were down on previous years, with only 139 competitors in the sprint distance event.
Race director Tony Rogers attributed that to a clash with a new triathlon in Melbourne on the same day and said the event was otherwise a great success.
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