Red Dogs conquer Ironman 70.3 World Championships - Mooloolaba, QLD (4 Sept 2016) – by Simon Smale.

Red Dog Triathlon Training have taken on the World, coming away with a host of fantastic performances and medals on what was a beautiful, albeit slightly blustery day on the Sunshine Coast.

Kieran Storch (M18-24) and Rebecca East (F45-49) lead the charge for the 2016 Ironman Australian TriClub Division 1 Champions, with silver medals in their respective age groups, while Briarna Silk (F30-34) and Heidi Sowerby (F45-49) both finished in the top ten of their categories.

With a typically boisterous supporters section basking in the beautiful Mooloolaba sunshine, the eighteen age group racers and two athletes in the professional field were all well supported as they represented themselves on the biggest stage, just a short trip up the road from Brisbane.

Age Group Summary

Kieran Storch picked up the silver medal in the M18-24 age group with a time of 4:10:15 behind New Zealand’s Jason Hall. Storchy backed up an impressive race with a blistering run of 1:19:07, but was unable to catch his Kiwi rival. Also in the M18-24 age group, Tyler Allen came home in 26th place with a time of 4:30:26.

Rebecca East backed up an impressive 2016 by also claiming a silver medal on the day, finishing in 5:01:36 behind fellow Aussie Raeleigh Harris. Heidi Sowerby finished inside the top ten in 8th spot with a hugely impressive 5:11:20, and Sarah Moser claimed an excellent 37th spot with 5:41:03.

James Dimsey lead home Red Dog’s finishers in the hugely competitive M30-34 age group, ending up in 27th spot with a 4:15:55. Christophe Manchon came in 75th with a 4:26.11 while James Anderson ended up in 126th with a 4:38:53.

Tom Beechey claimed 24th in the M35-39 group with a 4:20:15, while in the F35-39, Alison Ryan finished in 135th spot with a time of 7:20:26.

Cameron Hughes secured 15th spot in the M40-44 age group off the back off a stunningly quick 38.81 km/h average ride for a time of 2:19.08, the second fastest in his category. Brett Jenkins finished in 60th with 4:39:14 in the same category.

Matt Boevink recorded a 4:30:17 to finish in 12th spot in his M45-49 age group, while Michael Lennon came home in just under five hours with 4:59:13 to take 119th, and Toshitaka Ishihara came in 160th with a time of 5:13:05 representing Japan.

Briarna Silk agonisingly missed out on a podium spot by just over a minute, claiming position 4th in the F30-34 age group with a time of 4:46:45. Sarah Richmond finished in 32nd spot in the F40-44 category with a time of 5:17:38.

Linda O’Connor managed to claim a top 30 finish in the F50-54 age group by finishing 29th in a time of 5:45:45, despite suffering from a mechanical and being forced to walk for 5km of the bike leg, a fantastic effort.

Congratulations to all athletes who qualified for the World Championships and competed so well on the day.

Phenomenal Professional Races

One of the great joys of triathlon racing is that the age groupers race the same course as the professionals just moments after they set off, and the Ironman 70.3 World Championships is no exception.

This year both men’s and women’s races were absolute thrillers, with the top three in the elite men separated by less than 30 seconds. 

Australia’s Tim Reed emerged victorious after a sensational dog fight with German Sebastian Kienle on the run went right down to the wire, with Switzerland’s Ruedi Wild rounding off the podium in 3rd.

Red Dog’s Josh Amberger lead the field out of the swim by over 100 metres as he flew around the perfectly flat ocean swim course in just under 22 minutes, but was caught by the chasing pack at a round the 45km mark before finishing in 12th spot.

Two time former World 70.3 Champion Kienle averaged 43.29 km/h over the 90km course to make up a 70 second deficit up from the swim and lead the field into T2, where he and Reed swapped the lead throughout the half marathon course.

Reed went on to claim Australia’s first IM70.3 World Championship crown since Craig Alexander won in Nevada in 2011 by just two seconds from the German, and will now head to Kona to contest the Ironman World Championships early next month.

In the women’s race, Welsh pro Holly Lawrence blew the field apart with a scintillating bike leg to claim her first World Championship title.

The 26 year old was second out of the water behind America’s Lauren Brandon, but quickly established a lead on the bike, riding away from a pack that included Leanda Cave, Caroline Steffen and rapidly ascending Mel Hauschildt and Heather Wurtele. 

Lawrence rode 90 seconds faster than anyone else on the course, giving her a sizeable five minute cushion to finish ahead of local girl Hauschildt - who finished two minutes behind despite running a 1:18.43 half marathon. Heather Wurtele of Canada held on to finish third ahead of Swiss pair Daniela Ryf and Caroline Steffen.

Red Dog pro Sarah Crowley finished in 13th spot with 04:22:33 after the bike blew apart due to Lawrence’s surge ahead.


Port Macquarie Ironman Review (3 May 2015)– by Simon Smale.

Red Dog conquer Ironman Australia and win a ticket to Kona.

The New South Wales town of Port Macquarie is something of a Mecca for Australian long distance triathletes.  Ironman Australia is the 4th oldest Ironman event in the world, and after being hosted at Forster-Tuncurry since 1985, the baton was passed to Port Macquarie in 2006.

As was befitting the 30th anniversary of the race, plenty of former champions graced the course, including 2012 winner Paul Ambrose – who held off a fast finishing 2013 Champion Luke Bell on the run to win his second Ironman Crown.

Red Dog Triathlon Club added their name to the illustrious roll of honour by taking home the award for best small club last year. While just a small number of athletes contested the event last year, a much healthier number of 19 Doggies made the trip south this year, joining 1800 other athletes and making Red Dog ineligible to defend their title.

Stand out performer of the day was without a doubt Belinda Ward. Storming home in a time of 10:36:23, Wardy won the Australian title in the F45-49 age group. In just her second attempt at the distance, and after shaking off a head cold in the week leading up to the race, Wardy achieved the biggest prize in age group triathlon - the chance to compete at Kona this October, although she professed to being most pleased that her head didn’t explode upon entering the water… For more insights from Red Dog’s Australian Champion, read Wardys interview.

Michelle Gemmell was Red Dog’s other top-ten finisher, this time in the F40-44 age group. Entered by husband Scott in what has to be the most dubious Christmas gift of all time, Michelle embraced the challenge and flew around the course in 11:34:28. Michelle was also agonisingly close to achieving a Kona spot, after 5 of the athletes ahead of her passed up their opportunity to race in Hawai’i. Unfortunately for Michelle, 6th place snapped up the opportunity and the chance went begging. Luckily for her, she has been signed up for Busselton later in the year.

Red Dogs other F40-44 athletes also had excellent races. Fleur Dennis finished in an excellent 16th, just outside of 12 hours in 12:06:48 after struggling with cramps throughout the run. Michelle Perry came home in 14:17:43 – a fantastic effort as her longest previous run was just 30km and longest bike ride was just 140km.

The first Red Dog home was Jon Roper (M40-44) in an exceptional time of 10:19:38 to finish in 32nd position. He lead home a five-man-strong Red Dog contingent in that incredibly competitive age group, ahead of Mark Westaway (58th - 10:51:21), Michael Chandler (100th - 11:34:58), Rob Buntine (113th – 11:44:29) and Richard Phillips (118th – 11:49:09).

Michael Lennon was second Doggie home in 10:29:28, finishing 19th in the M45-49 age group. Also in the M45-49 age group, Kelvin Cheer finished in 60th in 11:32:57 and Phil Moss crept in under the 12 hour mark with a time of 11:50:22 to finish in 80th.

Mark Forward (M50-54) was the first of Red Dogs over 50’s, coming in dead on 11 hours (give or take 2 seconds) to claim 21st, while Ian Fabian - who was instrumental in Red Dogs award winning charge last year – came home in 12:49:34 to take 78th, while Geoffrey Hines (87th) was not far behind in 13:11:35. Maureen Flower (F50-54) was also very pleased with her times, finishing in 15:27:42 in 28th place.

Brendan Campbell (39th - 11:09:27), Kevin Siah (49th – 11:34:58) and Joshua Strickland (81st - 12:48:42) all contested the M30-34 age group. Special mention should go to Kevin, who suffered horribly with punctures on the bike – spending over 45 minutes on the side of the road. Despite that terrible luck, Kevin should take heart with what was still an excellent time under the circumstances.

Wardy's Interview: 

Hawai’i, dark places and exploding heads – Wardy’s Ironman Australia Story


Red Dog athlete Belinda Ward – in just her second Ironman race – pulled a fantastic performance out of the hat to win her age group, and with it a ticket to Kona. The new Australian F45-49 Ironman Champion spoke to us about dark places, Kona, her insane forthcoming schedule and the relief that came from having her head not explode…


Smale Mail: First of all, congratulations on what was an amazing result. You’ve been training really well recently, did you have an inkling that you could be on the cusp of such a great result and were you hoping to come close to a Kona qualifying spot?


Belinda Ward: I knew I was in good form having done a lot of quality training since January, but I was also very well aware that anything can go wrong in the lead-up to a big race or on the day itself. In the couple of weeks beforehand I was confident in my ability to finish near the top of the field and even to win if I had a good performance on the day, but there’s still a big step between knowing you’re capable of winning, and actually going out and doing it.


As it turned out, all I could think of at the start line was: I hope the cold water clears my sinuses or my head will explode.


SM: Was this your first Ironman?


BW: Although I’ve been racing triathlons for over a decade, this was only my second Ironman. My first was at Port Mac 6 years ago, and at the time I swore I would never do another one. Back then I actually found the whole training build and race day experience quite tedious, and decided that I preferred racing hard and often over shorter distances. However in the back of my mind I felt I had let the course at Port Mac defeat me, and part of me wanted to go back and do it properly. But this time I did promise to myself that I would find a way to make training and racing enjoyable. I’m happy to say I mainly found that formula.


SM: What part of your race were you most pleased with? And what went right for you on the day? I understand you were a bit coldy in the build up, did that play on your mind at all?


BW: Yes absolutely. I’m most pleased that my head didn’t explode! I came down with a head cold in the week before the race, and spent a few days feeling totally miserable and doubting I was going to make the start line at all. It was disappointing to miss a lot of the pre-race excitement, but I tried to stay away from people as much as possible at registration and the welcome dinner, as no-one was going to thank me for passing on my germs in those last few days. I drank a lot of hot water and honey, but didn’t have the appetite to carbo-load.


Looking back, I am delighted with my run. Because I was already feeling quite dehydrated and on the verge of cramping, I walked the aid stations right from the beginning, and also deliberately walked up the hill behind the caravan park each lap. Boy did I look forward to those regular walk breaks! But every time I started running again I was immediately passing people and feeling strong. Spectators commented that I looked like I was running really well, and I chose to believe them. I was happy that I never degenerated into doing the Ironman shuffle. And that I made it home before the glow sticks came out.


SM: At what point in the race did you realise that you could be in with a shot of winning?


BW: Pete Dennis and Scott Gemmell started yelling to me that I was winning my age group half way through the run – and telling me I had it in the bag. But by then I was already cramping a bit and was very conscious that it’s possible to lose a lot of time if you have a melt-down at the back end of a marathon. I also had very vivid memories of being run down in the finishing chute at the Tweed Coast Enduro just weeks ago so I was never really confident I’d hold on for the win. Even though I totally expected the last lap of the run to hurt, I was still a bit shocked by some of the dark and nasty places I had to run through on the road back from Settlement Point.


SM: You celebrated your triumph by supporting AK in his Ultraman – did it cross your mind to have a rest before launching into your Kona prep? Will you allow yourself a rest at all to celebrate?


BW: Crewing at Ultraman was actually a great way to distract from the post-race blues, and to get re-energised by hanging around some keen and crazy athletes in a different environment. But I did underestimate how mentally challenging and physically exhausting it would turn out to be. I’m celebrating by doing the things I love; riding, running, eating, and swapping stories with interesting and inspiring people.


SM: Have you had to change any of your planned races in order to accommodate a Kona trip?


BW: I had already committed to race the Duathlon World Championships later this year, and that was going to be my main race. Adelaide’s my home town, and I was keen to try and grab a medal there after failing to defend my World Title in 2007 when I had a flat tyre in Hungary. As it happens, the duathlon is only 7 days after Kona, so I’m going to have a very hectic month of October! Fortunately, I’ve always found my best running form on a base of slow long distance training, so this year I intend to train mainly with Kona in mind, and then just relax and see what happens in Adelaide.


Between now and then, I’ll be doing the Warwick Pentath-run in a couple of weeks, racing Ironman Cairns, and running the Coastal High 50km trail run. I’ll also aim to ride a few Audax 200 and 300km events, maybe even a 400km. Which that schedule may sound a little crazy, I’m really doing most of it for fun. I enjoy being fit, exercising in beautiful places, and taking off on big adventures.


SM: Kona will be a fantastic experience – have you ever been? What are you looking forward to most?


BW: I was lucky enough to be in Kona as a spectator in 2005. One of my idols Michellie Jones came second to the incredible Natascha Badman that year, and I remember the men’s winner Faris Al Sultan turning up with his bike in a cardboard box, and being very relaxed at the after party to the consternation of his very serious, very German minder.


I’m most looking forward to riding my bike on the Queen K. And perhaps to the after party – although I have toned down a bit in the last decade.


SM: Seeing as training for an Ironman is so full on and all encompassing, was it even a consideration to be happy with coming first and being Australian Champion and not accept the prize of Kona by having to dedicate yourself to all that pain and dedicated training again so soon?


BW: I’m a very competitive person, and it was the win I was chasing rather than the Kona qualifying spot. Racing at Kona has never been the Holy Grail for me, but since I have the opportunity this year I’ve grabbed it and certainly intend to make the most of it. Before that there’s Cairns, which I’m really looking forward to. Hopefully I’ll be able to enjoy the pre-race activities for that one, and also relax and enjoy the race. But of course there is still part of me that wants to win, so I will be pushing myself all the way to the line.


SM: Thanks Belinda, congratulations again and best of luck in your busy year ahead!



Tweed Coast Enduro Review (29 March 2015) – by Simon Smale.


A small contingent of Red Dogs ventured south of the boarder to compete in the inaugural Tweed Coast Enduro on the Northern New South Wales Coast last weekend.


The long course race, over typical half ironman distance of 1.9km swim, 90km bike and 21.1km run around the picturesque town of Pottsville Beach, was organised by QSM Sport, who bought us the immensely popular races in Kingscliff and Byron Bay. And it looks like they could be on to a winner here as well.


This race clearly has plenty of potential - and with a real sense of positive involvement from the local community and a successful first event, there is no reason to think this will not become a favourite amongst athletes from the region.


In spectacular clear, sunny conditions, eighteen Red Dogs started the race, and sixteen finished with Sarah Crealy (F35-39) unfortunate to suffer a puncture on the final lap of the ride. Karin Thompson (FOpen) also unfortunately recorded a DNF.


In the F40-44 age group the Red Dogs recorded some fantastic results, with Belinda Ward just missing out on 2nd after being overtaken in the final stages, eventually finishing 3rd in 4:42:58. Michelle Gemmell had an excellent final hit out before Port Macquarie IronMan in 5 weeks, storming home after a brilliant bike/run to finish just behind Belinda in 4:45:25. Fleur Dennis also put in an excellent effort in her last race before IronMan Port Mac, finishing in 5th in what was close to a PB time of 5:08:31. Michelle Perry came home in 16th position with 6:06:23.


Kate Fryer (F35-39) didn’t let an unfamiliar bike slow her down and did superbly well to get 8th place in 5:09:01, in what was a decent recovery after a nasty accident just under a month ago wrote off her usual bike. Cath Healy (F35-39) shrugged off a back injury to finish 12th in a time of 5:36:25, just behind Rachael Khoo (F25-29) who finished 5th in 5:35:56.


Jo Cochrane (F45-49) had a great race, recording her longest niggle-free run since June last year to record a time of 5:32:33 to finish 9th, as the heat from the sun started to affect those still out on course.


Darren Lockhart (M40-44) was the fastest Red Dog on the day, and picked up 3rd place for his efforts with a 4:25:58. Just behind him was Dallas Adams (M35-39), finishing with 4:28:31 to get 14th in the age group. In what was a super competitive age group, Ralph Dehlen came 21st just 10 minutes behind in 4:38:29. Damien Thompson (M30-34) came 19th with a solid 4:42:36, just ahead of Brendan Campbell (M30-34) who finished in just under 5 hours to take 23rd place with a time of 4:54:54.


Ian Fabian (M50-54), Scott Norish (M40-44) and Andrew Smith (M45-49) were engaged in a tight race all morning finishing within 8 minutes of one another, recording times of 5:13:09, 5:17:34 and 5:21:40 to finish 18th, 31st and 26th respectively.


Speaking to most of the Red Dogs afterwards, the overwhelming impression of the new event was positive, however that wasn’t the case for everyone. Big name pro Clayton Fettell did not finish after falling off his bike, resulting not only in a lot of bark off and some stitches for Fettell, but a huge disappointment to the event’s MC, who continued to mention the stricken pro throughout the afternoon.


Special mention should also go to Pete Dennis, who in his capacity as a super-supporter, helped out an age-grouper who snapped his goggles at the swim start. The fortuitous beneficiary, Shane Hunt, was able to use the power of Facebook to thank Pete (and Fleur) by sending them a copy of his wife’s excellent book, Multisport Dreaming: The Foundations of Triathlon in Australia.


All in all, a great day for the Red Dogs both in and out of competition, in what promises to be a popular and well supported race in the coming years.



Read more: Blogs by Simon Smale

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