TRIATHLON: The Hell of the West triathlon is named that for a reason - as last weekend's competitors discovered.
Central Highlands Triathlon Club competitor Lance Bennett said the athletes who travelled from Emerald for the race in Goondiwindi all put in top performances.
"It is one of the toughest triathlons that Australia has to offer and it was truly an amazing effort to come together and perform so well,” he said.
A bus loaded with four teams and two individual competitors made the trek for the race last weekend, with the combination of 40-degree temperatures and hot winds making conditions tough.
Seasoned Hell of the West competitors Bennett and Kevin Ongheen competed individually but found experience didn't necessarily make it any easier.
"We knew what we were up against but it's not like the triathlon gets any easier,” he said.
"The heat and the wind, that all works against you.
"The temps were close to and exceeding 40 degrees and it's a dry heat so the breeze gives you no relief.
"We obviously train to combat the heat, either later in the morning or early in the afternoon.
"But there's no real way to prepare yourself for the heat.”
Bennett came eighth in the 35-40 years age group, notching up a personal best with a race time of four hours and 32 minutes.
"I do the Hell of the West triathlon because it's the first triathlon of the year and is the perfect benchmark to set you up for the rest of the season,” he said.
"I achieved some of my personal goals, but not all.
"It's a quality competition with competitors from New South Wales and Queensland.”
With four teams competing from Emerald, Bennett said the teams all recorded good results, in particular one featuring Byron Rackley, Larissa Burnett and Chris Jacobson.
"They came fourth in the mixed team race, which is a monumental effort for them,” he said.
Larissa completed the 2km swim and Byron pedalled 80km in what was their first triathlon appearance.
"The race isn't one you can wake up one morning and think 'I'll do it',” Bennett said.
"It takes months of preparation to do it - and more preparation to do it well,” Bennett said.
"Full credit to them. Not only did they do their first one, they did it really well.”
Bennett said the teams went into the race with a lot of unknowns but he and Ongheen were able to prepare them for it in training in the weeks leading up to the event.
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