Steven McKenna and Ellie Salthouse claimed victory at IRONMAN 70.3 Geelong yesterday, with both athletes winning at the event for the first time.
For McKenna not only was it his first win in Geelong but his first ever IRONMAN 70.3 victory, with the South Australian finishing in 3:46:45, less than a minute ahead of Trent Thorpe with Tim Reed in third.
“I was just waiting for it to explode all day and it didn’t so I’m stoked,” said McKenna. “The swim went as good as it could, we noticed that two went out in front instead of three which we expected so we had a lot of hope that we could catch the first one and then work together. I had good legs despite training for IRONMAN Australia, the big goal for my coach and myself at the moment is doing an IRONMAN in May in Port Macquarie so we kind of expected to be off today but certainly weren’t so maybe we’ll just not taper from now on.”
The top seven men pushed each other across the 90km ride, with less than 10 seconds separating them as they came back into transition. Defending champion Josh Amberger led for much of the ride, swapping positions with Trent Thorpe and Tim Van Berkel a number of times.
Amberger led the field onto the run, with McKenna making his move early and never looking back, extending his gap at the front across the 21km along the Geelong waterfront. Amberger would eventually finish sixth, the first time he has been off the podium at this event.
“I made a few mistakes at my last race, the Australian Championships in Husky, and I just had to wear a watch today because I have no perception of what the perceived effort is,” he said. “I’ve come second at Sunshine Coast and I didn’t know when the first IRONMAN 70.3 win was going to happen, I was hoping sooner, I had a couple of other wins and thought I was on soon, it meant heaps. We’re having a baby in July and I just want to race as much as possible, I’m enjoying it.”
Ellie Salthouse came into IRONMAN 70.3 Geelong in strong form, having two wins at other races to kick off 2021. The Queenslander finished in 4:09:29, more than five minutes ahead of second place finisher Amelia Watkinson, with Melbourne triathlete Grace Thek in third.
Salthouse and Watkinson were at the front of the pack all day, finishing the 1.9km swim in Corio Bay first and second respectively and then powering ahead on the bike. Watkinson, who had victories at IRONMAN 70.3 Sunshine Coast and the Cairns Airport IRONMAN Cairns Asia Pacific Championship at the end of 2020 was first onto the run, closely followed by Salthouse.
Salthouse took the lead within the first three kilometres and was out of reach from then on, steadily extending her lead for the remainder of the race.
“I’m really happy with how today went, actually I was super surprised with it, I had a less than ideal prep heading into the last week so I’m really happy to come away with the win,” said Salthouse. “I didn’t quite come out with as much of a lead as I would have liked onto the bike, I had a few girls with me. Amelia and I ended up getting a little bit of a gap and we rode the 90km together, I was able to find my run legs really quickly and get a good gap on Amelia on the first lap of the run and extend it further on the second.”
Previously Salthouse has had best IRONMAN 70.3 Geelong finishes of second and fourth, with today’s win a special one for the Queenslander.
“It means so much to win here, my family are here, they all live down this way so they were able to come and watch and it’s so special to be able to win in front of them,” she said. “You’ve always got to come down to Geelong expecting every season, it wasn’t quite as cold as I was thinking but definitely colder than Queensland where I’m from.”
Salthouse has her sights firmly set on the 2021 IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship in the United States later this year, with today’s win another boost ahead of the event.
“Hopefully in July I’ll be able to head back to the US and do my World Championship preparation over there,” said Salthouse. “I’m hoping to go there in good form, I’m hoping to contest for the win over there, it’s looking promising so far this year.”
More than 1,000 athletes contested Sunday’s IRONMAN 70.3 Geelong, with the event taking place under an approved COVID Safe Event Plan.
IRONMAN 70.3 Geelong – Results
1st – Steven McKenna – 3:46:45
2nd – Trent Thorpe – 3:47:38
3rd – Tim Reed – 3:49:22
4th – Tim Van Berkel – 3:50:14
5th – Levi Maxwell – 3:51:56
6th – Josh Amberger – 3:53:22
1st – Ellie Salthouse – 4:09:29
2nd – Amelia Watkinson – 4:14:35
3rd – Grace Thek – 4:18:51
4th – Penny Slater – 4:22:28
5th – Vanessa Murray – 4:24:28
6th – Chloe Lane – 4:26:38
Full results can be found here.
For more information on IRONMAN 70.3 Geelong click here.
Words: Ironman Oceania