FANTASTIC – that was how Tania Pringle described the return of a handicap system to Bathurst Wallabies Triathlon Club racing on Sunday.
It was easy to see why she held that opinion too.
Not only did it help her to be the first female finisher in short course event, but one of her friends and a newcomer to triathlon – Amanda Robinson – was able to join her on the podium.
“We are fairly new back into triathlon so this is fantastic, a bit of encouragement. It made it worthwhile getting up this morning,” Pringle said.
“I have been doing triathlon for about 24 years on and off, obviously kids put a hold on these things sometimes, so it was good to race today.
“Mandy is very new and she’s smashed out a third, so that’s really exciting.”
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While the distance for the short course event was the same 300 metres swim, 16 kilometre cycle and 2.5km run that featured over the first four rounds of the Wallabies’ 2018-19 season, Sunday’s handicapping system mixed things up.
Both short and long course competitors, male and female, were sent off in waves as club officials took advantage of the increased participation rates to try a handicap race.
They did so with the aim of encouraging all competitors and it worked.
Robinson was in the first wave to hit the pool and emerged from the water first. While she was overtaken before she reached the finish line, she admitted having someone to chase made her lift her tempo.
“I was first in the bike ride, so I had a reference of where I was [overall] which was good,” she said.
“But as soon as someone was in front of me, it made me push harder.”
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Robinson crossed the line in third with a handicap time of 1:17.55.
Pringle had to wait eight minutes longer than her friend before setting off, but she clawed back ground on those ahead of her.
She hit the front in the run to claim the honours in 1:16.42, narrowly beating Jo Foster (1:16.46) across the finish line.
“It was great, you go into it knowing that you are not going to be at the back of the pack and you’ve got a chance to shine doing something that you love,” she said.
“It was hard to judge where you were today because the short and long course were all together. Coming back in from the bike we weren’t sure where we were.
“[But] It shows that anyone can come and do it. Whether it’s a handicap day or not, anyone can do it no matter your fitness level.”
Peter Bennett was the first of the male short course runners to cross the line, his handicap time a 1:06.21.