Above photo of Annabel Luxford courtesy of Challenge Melbourne/Getty Images
Two former world champions Pete Jacobs and Annabel Luxford headline a star studded professional field to contest the inaugural Challenge Gold Coast this Sunday.
The Australian pair form part of a quality field assembled to contest the newest addition to the Challenge Family event roster in Australia, which includes events in Melbourne (Vic), Shepparton (Vic), Forster (NSW) and Batemans Bay (NSW).
The race to be held at the South Eastern end of the Gold Coast comprises a 1.9km swim in Currumbin Creek, a 90km one-lap cycle over the undulating terrain through Currumbin and Tallebudgera Valleys and a 21km two-lap run through Currumbin and Tugun Beach.
Jacobs, in his final preparation for an assault on regaining his Hawaii world championship crown he won in 2012 after a disappointing performance in 2013. He is determined to turn things around and this race is perfectly positioned.
“I’m really looking forward to racing this Sunday, I’ve just returned after spending time in Thailand at Thanyapura training resort with Macca (Chris McCormack), Caroline Steffen, Casey Munro and am feeling strong for it. This really kick starts my Hawaii preparations” said Jacobs.
“I’d be a brave man to suggest I can win – there’s any number of guys on the start line that can win.
“I’ve actually looked at the course profile of this race, something I’ve never done for any other race, and I have a rough plan for how to best attack this tough course against a tough field of competitors.
Jacobs believes the future of this race is a crucial one for the event calendar.
“Getting Australia’s best long course athletes competing for big prize purses is helping to drive the promotion of our sport and increases the spectator experience.
“I think over the coming years professionals will put great significance on this event and it will be a prominent fixture in their race calendar. It is great timing for the build up to two World Championship events and its course and location will make it memorable and prestigious to win,” said Jacobs.
The 25-strong field includes super-talented Victorian Tim Reed who has produced some of his best form in 2014 and continues to record fastest bike and run splits making him a real contender.
But there are many more lining up behind him to claim the inaugural title, David Dellow who has succeeded over the full distance in 2012, three-time ITU world champion Peter Robertson. Robertson now joins a select group of athletes that has made the successful transition to long distance.
A string of high-flying fellow Australian’s, Sam Appleton, Casey Munro, Joey Lampe and Sam Betten are also hunting for a slice of the AUD$35,000 on offer.
They are also racing for an invitation with a royal touch to the richest half distance prize purse in the world, Challenge Bahrain.
The top three male and female athletes will each receive an exclusive ‘Royal Package’ to Challenge Bahrain on 6 December and the opportunity to compete for the US$500,000 prize purse.
The ‘Royal Package’ will provide the winners with an unrivalled experience of the Kingdom of Bahrain. The winning athletes will enjoy the royal treatment to the Kingdom of Bahrain including business class airfare, four nights accommodation at a five star resort, on-call chauffeur and free entry.
Brisbane born Luxford is currently living and training in Melbourne and had her sights set on a debut in Kona in October but her season was derailed in June after colliding with the back of car.
The former world number one and Under 23 world champion is in her second season of long distance racing and has adapted seamlessly with instant results.
Luxford finished second as the Asia Pacific championships of the half distance, won the inaugural Challenge Melbourne and had five podiums.
“I was disappointed about missing the chance to race in Kona, but re-worked the end of season schedule to re-focus on the half distance world championship in September,” said Luxford.
A seasoned campaigner, Luxford knows that to attempt to chase qualifying over the full distance would be foolish.
“It would also be short-sighted to go into Kona without the background or preparation that I would require to do as well as I would like. After all, this is only my second season of racing the half distance,” Luxford said.
“This will be my first race back and will give me a good indication of where I’m at.
“The course is definitely a challenging one which I’m looking forward too,” said Luxford.
Luxford will also have to hold off one of the most recognized ladies and advocates of Challenge events worldwide, Belinda Granger.
The ever-improving Sydney-sider Lisa Marangon will definitely be in the mix along with a number of emerging talents.
In addition to the professional field 1,400 age group competitors will also take on the challenge including some well-known identities. The Bondi Rescue boys continue their passionate pursuit of triathlon. Since taking up the sport two years ago the boys are now hooked.
Former Tour de France cyclist Nick Gates will take part in his hometown event on the Gold Coast, and has heaped praise on the bike course.
“Bike course is solid. It’s great to have a tough one.
His advise to competitors on the 90km course is sound.
“Ride within yourself for the first 35km, take it steady up the beast (hill) and you’re home,” said the former national road champion.
Professional start: 6.10am
Age Group start: 6:15am
First finisher: 9:50am (approx.)
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Swim: 1.9km in Currumbin Creek. Start at the boat ramp, Thrower Drive Bridge.
Bike: 90km one-lap through Currumbin and Tallebudgera Valley’s.
Note: Course includes riding up Tallebudgera Connection Road at the 31km mark. Otherwise known as the ‘beast’.
Run: 21.1km two-lap course winding along Currumbin Creek and taking in the spectacular views through Currumbin and Tugun Beach.
Venue: Palm Beach Currumbin Sports ground – Salk Oval.
For further information on Challenge Gold Coast – www.challenge-goldcoast.com.au
ABOUT CHALLENGE FAMILY
The Challenge Family series of triathlons features 31 full and half distance races around the world, including the world’s largest long distance triathlon – Challenge Roth in Germany. The birthplace of the Challenge Family, Challenge Roth now features over 5,500 athletes and 220,000 spectators and home to both world records held by Andreas Raelert (GER) and Chrissie Wellington (GBR). Since 2002, races throughout Europe, UK, Australasia, Asia, North America and South America have joined Roth. Together they provide athletes with a new experience of long distance racing with a strong focus on athlete and spectator experience, giving back to the community while respecting the legacy of sport and being committed to its continued growth. For further information on Challenge Family visit www.challenge-family.com.