Despite inclement weather, more than 1,000 participants and an estimated 2,000 spectators were on hand to witness the 22nd annual Byron Bay Triathlon, the local organising committee has reported.
A highlight of this year’s event was the inaugural juniors’ and big kids’ triathlon with more than 70 entering for the first year – for many children it was their first multi-sport event. Most of the youngest triathletes are from local schools and sporting clubs, keen to have a go at the same race as their parents and friends.
In the Open category, Josh Amberger brought home the men’s title and Holly Grice took out the Women’s division.
Another highlight of the event was the promotion of the organ donation program with double lung transplant recipient Justin Wall competing the Tempta race.
Having previously suffered cystic fibrosis, Wall received a double lung transplant just six months ago. He completed his first ever event finishing second in his age group.
Thanks to professional and immediate invention by the medical team, a 32-year-old male policemen’s life was saved in the midst of all the hectic activity when he collapsed after the race.
Athletes, families and friends are all wishing him a fast recovery, who all personally wanted to thank the first aiders, doctors, surf lifesaving, and St Johns for their fast and professional response to the trauma.
The man was transported to Byron Bay Hospital where he is expected to make a full recovery.
The Bryon Bay Triathlon is community event and has raised more than $10,000 for Byron Bay SLSC, Byron Public School, Bryon Tri Club, the Byron Bay Cycle Club and, for the first time, the Byron Bay Lighthouse Fundraising Run.
The triathlon started with an ocean swim in the bay. Start times were staggered to allow opportunities between races for local traffic to flow. The swimmers however encountered challenging sweeps – one north and then one south – despite near perfect swell conditions.
Road closures ignored
Race director Mike Crawley said, ‘The new model cycle course worked and improved most traffic flows.’
‘Police reported that the new model had also improved safety levels.’
The road closure around Suffolk Park commenced just after 1pm but not everyone was happy about it, with a small number drivers ignoring traffic controllers, breaking through barriers and driving on the closed roads.
The resulting stresses for athlete safety raised concerns with both police and race organisers, and contributed to delays and produced a later road opening.
Organisers said plenty of notice had been given to locals to allow them to plan their trips in advance.
‘Special event signage was erected two weeks prior to the event and the majority of residents made contact with event organisers prior to Saturday and made suitable travel arrangements.’
Mr Crawley said that due to heavy rain and increased risks to cyclists, ‘a curfew was applied to stop later cyclists from continuing south to Suffolk Park after 3.30pm.
‘A run course curfew was also introduced towards the end of the event to ensure all athletes finished before dusk,’ he said.
Event organiser Kevin Pready wanted to especially thank the more than 80 volunteers who endured the late afternoon heavy rain and mud but stayed on course to support the many athletes who were committed to finishing.
Planning is now underway for the next event which includes the debrief with the event stakeholders. Early reports have resort operators seeing high levels of occupancy over three to four days and one beachside resort quoted this as their largest weekend of the year.