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The Grand Finale for 23/24

The 2024 NSW Club Championships in Forster, NSW


Written by our Chief Correspondent HJ

The finale to the NSW triathlon season is the NSW Club Championships held in Forster each year.

It is worth explaining upfront what is up for grabs at NSW Club Champs as the clubs are actually racing in 2 competitions at the same time.  


The first is the Club Championship where clubs are put into divisions with similar size clubs. There are 5 divisions with Division 1 including the biggest clubs such as Warringah (Andy’s old club and the largest in NSW with 400 members).  Byron Tri Club is in Division 5 with 31 other smaller clubs in NSW.  For the Club Championships, the first 30 places in each age category get performance points (1st place gets 30, 2nd gets 29 etc down to 1 point). In addition only the top placed person from any club in each age category earns points. For example, if Warringah had the top 3 people in the male 30-35 age group, only the points from the 1st place person would count towards the Championship. This is aimed at preventing the very large clubs from always dominating.  In addition, all competitors who complete the Full Club distance get 2 participation points for their club, those who complete the Half Club race get 1 point for their club, and all vollies get 1 point.


The second competition is of course the Interclub Series. For us, that’s the North Coast League. And the same rules applied to this event as to the other events in the League, i.e. only the first 10 people in each age category earned points. However, these points are doubled at this event. So, 1st place would earn 4 points towards the league, rather than the normal 2.


There was a merry band of 10 Breakers who made the trip to Forster this year.  A nice mixture of “seasoned” and relative newbie athletes, together with 2 crucial vollies. The Club Champs are always held on the Saturday so most of the Breakers travelled down on the Thursday to acclimatize to the southern conditions, and the rest of us arrived Friday.  The majority of us decided the best mode of transport to the event was a car. John however, decided that it was way more sensible to cycle from home to Forster - it was only 475km after all.  John was volunteering together with Benz, which was undoubtedly a wise decision given his little cycle ride, and also very important as the organizers were struggling to get enough vollies.  Without vollies, events do not go ahead.


The conditions at Forster for the last 2 years have been very tough for competitors, with cold ocean and air temperatures, wind, and in 2022 the additional challenge of lashing rain. The weather for this years event was almost perfect. Temperatures around 14 degrees when we started, clear skies, an almost flat ocean, and very little wind. Having said that, the course is always challenging.  The Full Club event is 1km swim, 27km cycle and 8km run.  The Half Club is 500m swim, 14km cycle and 4km run.  And the cycle route is hilly and technical with few long stretches of road. It is a rolling swim start – not my favourite way of starting – but didn’t really matter for this event given we were mostly racing against people we did not know. The Full Club swim was 2 loops which meant you weren’t far offshore at any time – which in hindsight was a good thing as apparently a couple of large “white” sharks were seen in the bay the week before.  There was talk that Jaime had heard about the sharks before the race, which is why he was seen skimming over the water, completing the 1km swim in 14:26 and getting out of the water first in his age group. 


The cycle course was 3 laps for the Full Club and a shortened 2 laps for the Half and was changed last year to avoid a couple of short and notoriously very steep climbs, which forced a number of riders to get off and walk. The new course was still undulating, with plenty of 90 degree corners to conquer. 


The run was a lovely mixture of a trail through trees, out to the end of the break wall and then over the 630m timber bridge connecting Forster to Tuncurry. It was a 2 lap run leg for the Full Club and 1 for the Half.


The Byron Breakers team went out hard and left nothing on the course. Except Jaime, who had a coming-of-age moment in transition where he “had a fall” whilst on the run, You only “have a fall” once you are on the downward slope to old age – young people just fall – but don’t fight it Jaime, it’s not that bad down here.  Luckily it was not major, he just left a little bit of skin from his hand on the trail. 


The Best Performing Breaker Award undoubtedly went to our amazing president, Deb.  She not only came 1st in her category, but she was also a whopping 17 minutes ahead of 2nd place. This means she was the best triathlete in her category for the whole of NSW. Now that’s an achievement. On ya Deb.


Jaime won the Fastest Breaker Award (yet again) but also received the coveted Statistically Impossible Position Award (which Joana was initially very excited about) for coming 9th in his age group for the 4th year in a row. In order to win this award, Jaime did have to slow down in the last lap of the run to let a few athletes past him. But he said it was worth it to win the award.


Annie easily won the “Not Sure What I Signed Up For” Award. She is very new to triathlons – this was her 3rd. Her Sunday swims across the bay in Byron have definitely helped her cope with the swim, but the so-called “relatively flat” cycle course tested her skills and resilience. But it didn’t seem to tire her too much as she then completed the run in an average pace of 4:52 min/km.


Joana won the T2 Silver Medal, with a 2:08 dash through transition, 6 seconds faster than Huw in 3rd place. She was pipped to the post by Jaime.  A bit more practice (and a pre-race threat to her husband) and I think she’ll take out gold next year. 


Huw was this years winner of the “Going the extra mile” award, which is rarely presented at triathlons.  As we all know, Huw loves a bit of cycling. So much so apparently, he decided to do an extra lap of the cycle course. There was understandably plenty of speculation whether this was due to premature senility, not reading the course info before the race or just because he was putting off the 8km run for a bit longer. Regrettably, there were no points awarded for the longest ride of the day.


Margreet secured the “Most Weird Thing to Take into Transition” award for taking an empty China coffee mug wrapped in her towel into transition when she was racking her bike. Only to watch it fly in the air and smash on the ground when she took out her towel. I think she should review her triathlon check list for the next event. It should also be noted that Marg (who rumour had it told Huw before the race that the cycle leg was 4 laps not 3) beat Huw by 12 seconds.


Unsurprisingly Beatrice won the LOUDEST PERSON AT THE EVENT award by many decibels. She also came 7th in her very competitive age group earning 23 points towards the Club Champs for the Breakers. Thanks Bea.


Mick won the T1 Gold Medal this year in a blistering 1:57, 5 seconds faster than Deb in second place. He also came 6th in the 16+ category in the Half. Disappointingly, he did not bring his duck-bell with him to this event. That would have definitely earned him a few more points and many admirers.


Big thanks to Benz for volunteering and all the encouragement on the cycle leg, especially the “come on Huw, push harder, you haven’t even broken into a sweat yet”, to which a fellow cyclist next to Huw commented “he should bloody well try this”.


John comfortably won the Most Dedicated Vollie Award on the day, with his 475km cycle to get there. Thanks John.


And the race results were…..

FULL Distance 1km swim/30km cycle/ 8km run

Jaime

M40-44

9th

1:38:11

Beatrice

F35-39

7th

1:54:41

Deb

F60-64

1st

1:59:56

Marg

F40-44

20th

2:13:59

Huw

M60-64

16th

2:14:11

Annie

F35-39

17th

2:14:41

HALF 500/14/4




Mick

M16+

6th

1:04:58

Joana

F16+

12th

1:10:35

The NSW Triathlon big presentation event was held at Club Forster on Saturday evening. Traditionally, the event is primarily to announce the winners of each Division of the NSW Club Championships and for triathletes who do not have lives outside of triathlon to get pissed. The last tradition was definitely on show again this year. However, they surprised a lot of people by also announcing the winners of each of the Interclub Series – which was very exciting (and a bit nerve racking).


“And the winner of the North Coast Interclub League for the 2023/2024 season is…….Byron Triathlon Club”  For the 4th year in a row !!


Congratulations to all Breakers who competed, volunteered or supported at any of the events this year.  We were so far ahead of the second-place club in our league (Coffs Harbour) before the NSW Club Champs, I am pretty sure we had already secured the win before the race on Saturday had even began. To be honest, that’s why I thought I’d do another lap of the cycle course so I could enjoy it for just a little bit longer. 


We also came 4th in our Division in the NSW Club Championships - not a bad result given we only had 8 competitors and 2 vollies.


A few of the youngsters had a boogey and a few of us then headed to the Bazaar Turkish café for some baklava and apple tea. A lovely, sweet end to a very triumphant and eventful day.


On Sunday a number of us attended the NSW Triathlon organized 4km recovery run, followed by coffee and muffins and an awards ceremony for the MVPs (Club and Interclub Leagues) for last year and this year. The run was horribly-hilly, the ocean was soothing, the muffins scrummy, and the coffee contained caffeine. It was lovely to see the performance of so many amazing athletes celebrated, including our very own. 


Big congratulations to Deb and Jaime who both won well-deserved Most Valuable Performer (MVP) titles for their consistent and high-level performances.  Deb was awarded MVP for Byron Tri Club for the 2022/2023 season and Jaime was awarded MVP for Byron Tri Club and also for the North Coast for the 2023/2024 season. We are very proud of you both. As one of the athletes was presented with his MVP medal, Robert Picken (M70-74), they mentioned that he had just raced at the Port Macquarie Ironman and done the fastest ever ironman for his category in Australia. And he was 3.5 hours ahead of second place in his age category. His son, who is also a triathlete and was at the ceremony, said he was in bed asleep when the 2nd place person finished. 


It was also fantastic that NSW Triathlon have introduced 3 new awards for Technical Official of the Year, Volunteer of the Year and Age Group Coach of the Year. To hear about the work the winners had put into the sport was awe inspiring.


Lastly, as this is my last race report for the season, I’d like to thank our dedicated and hard-working President from all the Breakers, for her tireless focus on improving and growing our Byron Triathlon Club.  And making it one of the most envied clubs in NSW for our high performances and team spirit (and of course for the amount of noise we make at each event😊).  Huge thanks Deb.


An amazing end to another very successful year for the Breakers.

GO BREAKERS.


The team presented with the 22/23 AND 23/24 North Coast Interclub Series Award





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