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Bridesmaids at Forster

2021 NSW Club Championships at Forster - written by Huw Jones

Forster (pronounced Foster) is a small seaside town 5½ hours south of Byron Bay has a population of 20,000 people and one big shark, and is named after William Forster who was briefly Premier of New South Wales.

The build-up to the event was nerve-racking for both the organisers and triathletes as Bruce the Shark had made an unwelcome appearance a week before and had not been seen since. As we made our way south we didn’t know whether Bruce had caused the cancellation of the swim and the Champs were now going to be a Duathlon.

A few keen club members arrived on the Thursday and President Debster suggested going for a “short stroll” in the morning. Six hours later, loud grumbles of “short stroll my arse” were heard through the streets of Forster.

On Friday the good news (at least for less-fast runners) came through that the swim leg was going ahead, but competitors would have the option to do a duathlon and still get participation points.

The remaining crew arrived on Friday and everyone met up at registration in the afternoon. By then the weather had turned cold and it had started to rain. Not looking good for the race day!

It was then that Nerida discovered she had totally forgotten to pack her climbing gear for the bike leg and decided to do the Club Half instead.

A few of our crew were unfortunately unable to compete.

Ash and Greg were ruled out after a nasty accident a week or so ago. It was great to see Greg out and about at the Champs and lovely to hear that Ash was back home and on the road to recovery.

Jess was also unable to compete. That morning she left her new-ish boyfriend, Sven, very frustrated after telling him “sorry love, got a headache” and then swiftly got into Andy’s car to join the mighty Breakers Supporters Club.

It was also on the Friday that Pete and Nerida had the highlight of their stay. In looking for somewhere to eat they had wandered into Forster Bowling Club and were greeted by the “All you can eat” buffet. Having been born just after the war (I’m not sure which one) they were certainly not going to let a little triathlon the next day get in the way of a damn good stuffing. They proceeded to chomp through the prawns, oysters and pork belly, all washed down with a glass or 3 of the best house wine; finishing off with an old fashioned crème brulee. Now that’s what I call good race-prep.

On Saturday we woke to a cool but thankfully clear day. The Tri-Gods were with us again.

The Full Club race was divided in two. The first race was the ladies and Pete (just how he likes it) with the first wave going off at 6.45am. The remaining men had a bit of a lie in, going off at 8.15am. The organisers said this was to reduce the numbers on the bike leg but I think they (i.e. the men in charge) wanted to send the ladies in the water first to see if Bruce was still around.

As I stood on my balcony eating porridge and watching the first wave go off, I suddenly realised it was a wet-suit swim. Shit! I only had 2 hours before my race to get mine on. I needed help. So, I immediately called Benz who said he would be more than very happy to laugh at me whilst I struggled into my suit.

The race got off with a rolling start – a first time experience for most of us. You set off in twos with your start time recorded as you passed the first sensors on the beach. I realised this meant that you were not racing against other competitors, you were just having to do your best time. More like a time trial.

The swim course had been changed to be 2 laps around 4 buoys reasonably close to shore. The water conditions were pretty perfect with few waves and little swell.

I went to see the ladies finish their swim and they all looked in fine form. We had all put on the club red, yellow and blue war paint for the occasion but Sandra had gone one step further - as she came out of the water I noticed her whole body was blue. Good on ya Sandra. Although, this could also have been because she was freezing as she didn’t wear a wet suit?

Pete’s age category in the first race was last to go into the water and therefore the last to come out. When Pete got out of the water he stopped for a while at the water’s edge, at which point his loving wife was overheard saying “what the f*** is Pete doing?”. At a distance he appeared to be imitating the famous escape artist, Houdini, escaping from a straight-jacket. But it turned out he was just trying to get out of his wet suit.

And so into T1. Most of us were concentrating on getting the wet suit off and getting ready for the bike ride. Tom however seemed to have other things in mind and “accidently” ended up in the ladies section of transition. Now call me old fashioned but I would have thought having one pregnant partner was enough for any man, but apparently not for Tom, who allegedly spent a good 5 minutes taking his wet suit off and showing off his pecs to the adoring female onlookers.

The bike leg was hilly – very hilly and was definitely not a TT bike course for us amateurs. And also super technical with lots of turns. Even the downhills were around bends. I have to say that I enjoyed it – but then I don’t mind hills and I prefer the variation versus a straight- line course like Tweed Enduro. But we will definitely be better prepared for it next time.

Into T2 and out on the run….

It was a lovely run course starting with a bit of trail running and then heading over the impressively long road bridge over the river to Tuncurry, heading along the river before turning back. This was a 2-lap course with the lap turn at the beginning of the bridge.

Tom is making a bit of a habit of going off-piste in triathlons. At Trial Bay he decided to go-bush about 500m before the finish line and ended up on the beach. At Forster he plainly felt sorry for me on the day and decided to run 100m or so past the lap turn to waste a bit more time to see if I could catch up. When he saw the finish line looming he turned and completed the second lap. And he was still way ahead of me – bugger!

The Breakers started congregating at the finish line to congratulate the last of us to finish.

But where was Benz? I was concerned because I had not seen him on the cycle or the run. Luckily Greg was there to enlighten us. Apparently, a competitor had collapsed on the cycle leg on one of the hills and Good Samaritan Benz had stopped to look after him before the paramedics arrived. He then completed the cycle and set off on the run. The run course passed the caravan park where Greg was sitting next to his van cheering us on, so obviously Benz had to stop in the middle of the NSW Club Championships to have a cup of tea and chat with Greg to tell him the story about the guy he’d helped. Having finished his second cup of tea, Benz set off to finish the run. And after all that, he still beat 4 other men in his age group. I’m guessing they must have stopped for 3 cups of tea.

What a day. It was a tough course but a very enjoyable one.

Jaime was once again the fastest in the Club on the day (I think I might be saying this for a number of race reports!) with a time of 1:41:00. He also came 8th in his category and an amazing 49th overall.

Tom was second fastest in the Club with 1:51:05 but is looking forward to shaving off at least 2 minutes next year if he can resist chatting up the ladies in transition and remembering his compass for the run.

Dani-girl was the fastest female in the Club in a time of 2:08:53.

Other notable results were Deb, who came 6th in her age group, and Pete who came 3rd. And in the Half Club race Nerida came in a wonderful 11th in the 16+ age category!! Those youngsters have got a lot to learn about pre-race prep!

And a special mention to Sandra for completing her longest distance yet, only a year into her triathlon career.

After filling ourselves with the free nut bars in recovery (weren’t they great!) and a refreshing beer from the massive Warringah Tri Club tent (thanks Andy) we all headed for an early dinner at the best pizzeria in town to drink, eat and listen to the live feed from the presentations at the local RSL.

Division 4 (small clubs) was the first to be announced with Clarence Valley winning and the Breakers taking out second. Our first NSW Club Champs and we came second – wow!

And 3 of the North Coast clubs who competed, Clarence Valley, Byron and Hat Head took out the top 3 places in the Division. Just shows the strength of the competition in our local area.

Whilst we were all elated with the Club’s performance we were all very sad to say a very fond farewell to Giulia and Tom as they headed off on their trip to NT and WA before moving to Port Macquarie to live. They will be hugely missed by all of us. Huw is plainly going to miss beating Tom, and everyone is going to miss Giulia’s ability to finish a triathlon in style with a smile and a side kick over the line, whilst, most importantly, not even breaking a sweat.

Just some stats…Port to South West Rocks is only 1 hour and is only 3 hours to Yamba. So we’ll see you there G&T!

Thanks to everyone for making the weekend so enjoyable and fun. And special thanks to….

….Deb for organising us again and for booking the pizzeria on Saturday.

….the Vollies, Becks and Andy who helped out and earned the Club valuable points on the day.

….the Supporters Club, Giulia, Greg, Jess and John for their encouragement and smiles.

….our very own Good Samaritan Benz – you are a very kind and considerate man who loves a chat.

Until next season…

This is a NSW only event where the competition is club against club. Only the first competitor from each Club earns performance points. The 2nd and subsequent athlete from each Club “blocks” the performance points available to other clubs. Below are the performance scores only (participation points not included)

1. Clarence Valley Triathlon Club 168

2. Byron Bay Triathlon Club 139

3. Hat Head Triathlon Club 112

4. Pulse Triathlon Club 89

5. T4 Tri Crew Bondi 72

6. Engadine Triathlon Club Inc 61

7. Brighton Baths Athletic Club Inc 64

8. Tamworth Triathlon Club Inc 48

9. Scone Triathlon Club 30

10. FilOz Triathlon Club 11

11. TriMob 22

12. Armidale Triathlon Club 14

13. Australian Defence Force Triathlon – NSW 14

14. Lake Macquarie 0

15. Highlands Triathlon Club 0

16. Australia Chinese Triathlon Club 0

Out of 423 men and 216 female finishers the Byron Breakers put in some excellent performances.

Individual Results for - Full Club Distance 1km swim, 30km cycle, 8km run Jaime Cascajares 35-39M 8th 1:41:00

Tom Phillips 30-34M 24th 1:51:05

Huw Jones 55-59M 12th 1:55:44

Daniela Costa 30-34 F17th 2:08:53

Deb Fuller 55-59F 6th 2:13:31

Robyn Darke 55-59F 12th 2:22:00

Claire O’Meara 55-59F 17th 2:33:47

Peter Clarke 70-74M 3rd 2:34:16

Sandra Killen 60-64F 8th 2:38:39

Geoff Bensley55-59M 46th2:40:44

Half Club Distance Nerida Clarke 16+ age category!! 11th of 181:22:31


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