Worth A Try – Bike Magazine Australia

photos by Eyes Wide Open Images

Fitness fanatics and endurance athletes who’d rather take part than watch have been coming to Noosa since its inaugural triathlon 30 years ago.

Consider Australia’s major festivals. Canberra hosts an annual spectacular called Floriade, where thousands invade the nation’s capital to look at millions of flowers. Huge crowds of revellers invade Sydney for its Gay And Lesbian Mardi Gras, again, mostly for a look. Meanwhile, Melbourne’s International Comedy Festival attracts multitudes of ticket-buyers keen to catch visiting headline acts they’ve only been able to watch on the Comedy Channel, HBO or BBC.

The Noosa Triathlon Multi Sport Festival on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast holiday strip attracts its onlookers too, but the point of difference here is that these disciples watch with butterflies in their bellies as they ponder their turn in the water, on the bike or in running shoes. Or they watch in recovery, muscles overflowing with lactic, aching all over … just how they like it.

Fitness fanatics and endurance athletes who’d rather take part than watch have been coming to Noosa since its inaugural triathlon 30 years ago. Just 180 competitors entered that year in ’83. Aussies seemed to love a beer and ciggie a lot more back then. These days, we’re educated about the health benefits of smashing kays instead of KBs, and we’re keener to work off the after-effects of our dietal vices. In 2012, the reason we’re unable to move up Noosa’s main drag no faster than a dawdling toddler is that more than 12,500 competitors have entered festival events ranging from a 1km ocean swim, to a cycling grand prix, a five-kay running dash called the “Asics Bolt”, and of course, the tri itself. In 30 years, 94,000 entries have been received – that’s a lot

of Dencorub and lost skin bark …

Inside Sport arrives on the Friday afternoon of the Festival after sharing a shuttle bus from Bris Vegas with an aspiring and “stoked to be here” women’s cycling team and a quiet and unassuming runner named Lucy. Before we’re dropped off at the Seahaven Resort at triathlon ground-zero on Hastings Street, curiosity gets the better of us, so in-turn Lucy gets standard questions expected of any uneducated outsider. What events are you in? How long are you here for? Is this your first time in Noosa? Are you here to just have fun, or win? Lucy bounces off the bus at her accommodation 1km out of town, and we wish her all the best. Nice young girl ‒ we’ll keep an eye on how she fares in her 5km road run.

We’ve arrived just in time for the first of the main events of the ‘12 festival, the 1000m Ocean Swim on Noosa’s main beach. It’s a race contested on a course the shape of a McDonald’s logo. Half an hour till showtime for the first of many, many age categories, beachgoers in their thousands are already crowding around the boxed-in start line on the water’s edge. Beginning and ending with a very short beach dash on foot, competitors swim out, swim back to the shore, then out again, before making a bee-line to the sand and instant glory among the hoards of non-competing revellers hanging from the rails of the local Surf Club.

Ky Hurst, chasing his eighth win from nine starts, leads a top-gun field of swimmers. Before today, he’d scored a silver medal at the 1998 Aquatic Worlds in the 5km Open Water event, swum for Australia at the ‘08 Olympics in the 10km marathon, and been inducted into the Surf Life Saving Australia Hall of Fame. Such a resume, though, isn’t enough to conquer the talented trio of Grimsey brothers Codie, Trent and Ridge. In a thrilling sprint finish to the line, Trent, who’s recently reset the benchmark for swimming the English Channel, is pipped at the line by Codie in 11 mins:43sec, ahead of the third-placed Hurst. “I am a gentleman at the end of the day when it comes to racing. I try and be quite discreet in what I do. If they give a little, I usually let them get away with it … Today, it was all fun and games,” offers Hurst to veteran Noosa Tri announcer Benny Pike, a boxer at the 1980 Olympics in Moscow and the voice of this festival of the fit. Coulda’ fooled us, Ky.