He hadn't competed at the Husky Triathlon Festival in four years, but Bathurst triathlete Nick North returned to the popular event on the South Coast to claim victory on the weekend.
Competing in the aquabike category, an event which drops the running, North not only won his 30-34 age group but was outright winner, finishing the 1.9 kilometre swim and 90 kilometre bike ride in a time of two hours, 15 minutes and 22 seconds, more than three minutes ahead of Haydn Jervis in second.
Fellow Bathurstians Richard Hobson and Mark Windsor won their age groups, the 50-54 and 60-64 respectively.
North, Hobson and Windsor had all planned to compete in the ultimate category (which is similar to the aquabike category but included a 21.1 kilometre run), but as North had a foot injury and Hobson had a hip issue, they decided to compete in the aquabike category.
North believes he's feeling the fittest he's ever been.
"The running definitely went out the window and I'll tell you what, it's a lot easier to train when you've only got two things," North said.
"Richard coaches me and I said to him two days beforehand, 'I've been doing this sport for 10 years now and this is the fitness and strongest I've ever felt'. I was ready to race.
"I've never been more excited and not nervous. I felt calm and ready to go. Even at the start, everything felt really, really easy."
North said the race started with a rolling start swim, where he slowly picked off the competitors in front of him, before taking the lead on the bike.
"It was a rolling start with a swim, so you just seat yourself wherever you want to start and I started in about mid-pack. I just started picking people off," he said.
"I probably started in 30th and got out of the water in fourth and then went to work on the bike. I put my head down and rode as hard and as fast as I could go. I think I caught everyone by halfway round the last lap.
"You really don't know where you finish with a rolling start, as someone behind you might have a faster time. I just knew I'm just in good shape and someone would have to be in better shape to beat me and thankfully no one did."
Sunday marked the first time in four years that North last competed at the event based at Huskisson, where he then finished eighth overall and first in the 25 to 29 years age category in the long course event.
"I have pretty good luck at Husky and I really enjoy the course there," he said.
"On Sunday, conditions were near perfect for us. Sometimes open swimming in the ocean can be choppy, but it was absolutely crystal clear."
Another Bathurst representatives that won gold was Jack Reen, in the 18-19 ultimate solo while Hollee Simons claimed a silver in the 20-24 ultimate solo course, Stephen Jackson won a silver in the 60-64 ultimate solo and Danielle Patterson took home a bronze in the 45-49 aquabike.
There were top five finishes for both Jennifer Arnold in the 40-44 ultimate solo and Lucy Hobson in the 20-24 ultimate solo, while top Bathurst athlete Terry Roberts finished in sixth in the 55-59 ultimate solo.
There were some great results by Tom Hanrahan, Luke Patterson and Tim Miller, who overcame training setbacks to record good results in the Australian titles, likewise Kristy Powyer who finished powerfully with a top five split in the run leg to suggest she's on track for upcoming Ironman events.
Unfortunately James Kelly, Josh Stapley and Peta Culter had to withdraw from events.
In the classic, Luke Gillmer was third overall in the tough event, along with Christopher Howarth who was seventh overall, Caitlin Davis also impressed finishing on the podium in the 20-24 category while Tania Pringle had a big weekend after winning her age group in the ocean swim on day one of the festival.
In the sprint, Will Kelly made the podium finishing third in 16-19 while Kerry Maloney was fourth in her very competitive age group after a super bike ride.
Both Mick Stapley and Courtney Byrne were impressive, breaking the one and half hour barrier for the sprint, while Mick O'Connor just missed out breaking it by a single minute. Brooke Tuynman, Rebecca O'Connor and Amanda Robinson all recorded great times in the popular sprint format with Robinson finishing in the top ten in her category
In the super sprint, Jenelle Starkey was impressive, finishing top five in her age group after winning the category in the five kilometre run on day one. Experienced Husky competitor Karen Tuynman also had a win in the teams category of the super sprint triathlon
The festival also included runs and ocean events, with Ash Corby putting in a super performance in the 10 kilometre run event finishing second overall and Will Kelly was fifth overall in the one kilometre ocean event.
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