The pitfalls, the challenges, the triumps. Welcome to Byron.
Updated: May 13
Prepared by Huw Jones
The 25th Byron Triathlon held on Sunday the 9 May 2021 was a challenge for many people this year.
As always it was a challenge for the competitors. Conditions are never easy when you have an ocean swim to contend with – but the sea gods were on our side this year and gave us plenty of sandbars to walk on for the first 100m or so (and to have a bit of banter with fellow competitors).
It was a challenge for the wonderful vollies who had a very tight transition and finish area to deal with and overlapping events coming and going at the same time.
It was a massive challenge for the organisers, NX Sports, who had to deal with difficult beach conditions and multiple last-minute changes to the course forced on them by the local authorities.
And lastly it was a challenge for some narrow-minded locals who couldn’t see beyond their own needs and somehow couldn’t accommodate having disruption for half a day a year for the sake of 1600 people of all ages keeping fit and having fun.
And despite all the challenges, it was an amazingly well run and exciting event.
Unfortunately a few of our team had to pull out of the race; Greg O’Meara (who allegedly is turning into a vampire and can only go out at night), Jess (who said she was hit by a car but we suspect it was the other way round), and Danny-boy Rossi (who has had his head turned ever since he met Brook and unfortunately it just wouldn’t move back in time for the Tri).
We had competitors in the Olympic, Sprint, Aquabike, Tempta and Olympic Relay Team events. And we also had a few newbies racing for the club for the first time. Mexican all-star Jaime “high-kick” Cascajares was definitely one to watch, and Ashleigh Martin was making his much-anticipated return to competitive triathlons after focusing on his other hobby, competitive crocheting, for a few years.
The day started in typical Byron style with a stunning sunrise over the lighthouse and this set the scene for a perfect day of racing.
First off were the Olympic Distance triathletes. The start was delayed 20 minutes because the surf club dudes had to understandably finish smoking their breakfast-joints before they set the buoys for the swim leg. But then it was off – the Open men dived into the beautifully warm-ish water and sped off – and then stood up – and then walked a bit – and then walked a bit more – had a bit of a chat – walked some more – and finally started swimming. “Mmmm” said the remaining competitors on the beach, “this is going to be interesting!”
The swim ended up being just less than 1000m with a lovely park run back to transition – lovely unless you are an Aquabiker (like our Andy) whose running legs retired a number of years ago.
The bike course for the Olympic and Aquabike events was out to Suffolk and back (x4) and for the Sprint was up to Paterson Street and back (x4). The new-ish road surface was soooooo smooth which made for a super-fast and very enjoyable ride. A highlight was definitely seeing one lady doing the Olympic distance on her shopping bike, accessorised with a shopping basket (aka a milk crate) and bike stand which her heel hit every time she pedalled so you could hear her 100m metres ahead of you.
Back to Transition in preparation for the run.
Fortunately (or unfortunately if you wanted to feel very inadequate) I witnessed Jaime sprint off for his 10km run. To say he’s fast is an understatement. He did 10km in a blistering 41:34 and came over the finish line 1st in his age category and 14th overall. Wow.
I also witnessed Nicholas Free running. Mr Free was the overall winner of the Olympic and completed it in 1:45:19, with a mind-blowing 32:59 for the 10km and coming in a whopping 10 minutes ahead of second place. He passed me twice on the run course and he was going so fast I had to hang on to my run cap.
Special congrats to the female members of our club who really did us proud: They got three 1sts (Deb, Sandra and Nerida), one 2nd (Robyn), and two 4ths (Claire and Georgina). On ya ladies.
In the Olympic distance, congratulations to Jaime for coming 1st in the club and in his age category. And to Tom for being the second fastest in the club and for beating Huw by the narrowest of margins; just 8 minutes and 10 seconds. Sooo close!
In the Sprint near-newbie Tim “You Wait Until I Can Swim!” Waller was our fastest athlete and it was just a shame we didn’t get club points for the Sprint as the Team were at the top of their game with two 1sts (Sandra and Nerida), two 2nds (Pete and Chris) and two 4ths (Tim and Will).
Big congratulations and lots of admiration goes to Ash for coming 6th in his first triathlon in way too long – well done mate.
In the Aquabike, congrats to Andy “I hate running” Kean for his 3rd place in his category and 9th overall.
And in the Olympic Team Relay the dream team Byron Chickas (Paivi, Denise and Caz) took out first place in the female category.
Phew…that was hard day. And it wasn’t over yet.
After the presentations and a welcome Stone & Wood Pacific Ale, some people got their party frocks on and got to the after party for pre-lunch nibbles. Meanwhile the hard-working Vollies (Benz, Becks, Giulia, Jess, Philippa, John, Joni, Alice and Chris and any others I may have missed) had to stay to sort out the remaining rabble. Thank you vollies.
The day ended with a wonderful afterparty at the Byron Tri Clubhouse (hosted as always by the very generous Nerida and Pete) and Nick supplied a wonderful set of entrees and desserts from his newly-formed South American Dough company. And we were well entertained by Jess and tales of what she has been getting up to with her new boyfriend, Norwegian-Sven.
Lastly the biggest thanks to Benz for his enormous effort managing the Transition area and to Deb for all her work prior to the tri to help the organising navigate the many challenges thrown their way.
Let’s all just hope the very few NIMBYS (not in my back yard) do not get their way and Byron Council has the courage to continue to support the Byron Bay Triathlon for many years to come.
Olympic Distance Results 1.5k swim/40km cycle/10kmrun
Jaime Cascajares 35-39M 1st 2:02:52
Tom Phillips 30-34M 8th 2:09:30
Huw Jones 55-59M 6th 2:17:40
Mark Stephan 50-54M 11th 2:20:08
Nick Alessio 30-34M 20th 2:20:58
Daniela Costa 30-34F 9th 2:27:30
Deb Fuller 55-59F 1st 2:32:04
Robyn Darke 55-59F 2nd 2:34:51
David Hay 60-64M15th 2:38:44
Claire O’Meara 55-59F 4th 2:51:25
Georgina Inwood 45-49F 4th 2:53:22 Sprint Distance 750m swim/20km cycle/5km run Tim Waller 30-34M 4th 1:13:36
Will Glasson 35-39M 4th 1:16:35
Ashleigh Martin 45-49M 6th 1:23:31
Chris Chetham 55-59M 1st 1:24:38
Peter Clarke 70-74M 2nd 1:35:17
Sandra Killen 60-64F 1st 1:35:27
Nerida Clarke 70-74F 1st 1:49:45
Aquabike 1.5km swim/40km cycle Andy Kean 55-59M 3rd 1:33:13 Olympic Relay Female Team - 1st 2:18:06 Paivi Hanninen Denise Bennett Caroline Bailey
Tempa 300m swim/10km cycle/2.5km run
Nick Lake 2nd 45-49m 49:20
Steve Jensen 1st 60-64m 51:35