Story & photos Eve Jeffery
On a perfect sunny Sunday, a little too much wind was the only complaint from competitors at the 2012 Kingscliff triathlon. Of the 992 entrants in this year’s event, 845 managed to complete the course and the event saw Sam Betten swim 1.5km, cycle 40km and run 10km faster than anyone else to become the King of the Kingy and win the Nev Salmon Memorial Award.
Sam was second out of the water after the eventual third placewinner Kieran Roche, but once he was on the bike, he shot ahead and was first out of the gate for the run leg. Second-placed Dave Kalinowski, sporting a lush Movember lip warmer, came out of the water at 00.18.50 a full minute and a half after the leaders but managed to catch up precious seconds in the cycle and overtake Roche in the run. Roche finished in 1.55.02. after Kalinowski 1.54.45 and Betten in 1.52.10, thirty-six seconds faster than last year’s winning time by Joey Lampe. The top nine made it across the line in under two hours.
Though Betten looked fresh as a daisy after his win, he said that in all honesty he was feeling pretty shattered after the event. ‘That was a really tough race,’ he said in the athletes’ recovery area. ‘It was pretty windy out there on the bike and really hot as well. That run course with the hill in it, going up there twice really burned the legs.’
Sam said that he had just completed a really big training week and the tri run took it out of him. ‘I really pushed hard that first lap of the run, that first five kilometres to try to establish a lead. I thought if I could do that I could maintain that lead on the boys and they would see I was too far in front and would kind of give up a little bit mentally. That was my big plan in the run. It’s a hard way to race off the front, but it’s the way I like to race and I think it’s the most satisfying way to win.’
Sam is currently hoping to get some good results in the half ironman in Canberra in December so he is in a full-on training program. He did a quick turn around on Sunday after the tri for more training. ‘I’m actually going for an hour run this afternoon as well. My coach kinda said to us yesterday, “I’m not going to take you down for this race. I’m going to give you a big week of training into it and just see what you can do on race day.” I did about 125km on the bike yesterday and 30km of running on Thursday. There’s no rest for the wicked, but I love it.
Sam said that the venue and the support from the crowd made the Kingy Tri a special event. ‘It’s amazing. I think Kingscliff is one of the best places to race in Australia. You get to look at that beautiful water for pretty much the entire course. You can’t be too unhappy to go out there and run around a bit on a Sunday.’
For the second year in a row the women’s title went to 21-year-old Gillian Backhouse, who took 23 seconds of last year’s time, coming home in 2.02.26. Gillian was also second out of the water by six seconds behind Maddison Allen, but Backhouse was not to be beaten on the bike and the ten-kilometre run took her only 42.23 to complete. Allen was second across the line in 2.10.08 followed by Jacqui Waters on 2.13.06.
Backhouse said not only her legs but her entire body was cooked after the tri but she was very happy after her run. ‘My run is characteristically my weakest leg. I tend to really struggle. I started to struggle around the five or six kilometre mark, but then coming around the corner I cooled back down and got my rhythm back. Once you are heading back the adrenalin kicks in. It’s such a good feeling.’
Gillian says she also had a tough time with the wind on the cycle leg. ‘The wind picked up, or maybe my legs were just tired,’ she laughed in the recovery area. ‘Particularly heading out. You have a tail wind coming in – you feel like you are absolutely flying– then you turn around and it just hits you.’
For more information about race results, visit the tri website: www.kingsclifftri.com.au.