Hearn, Salthouse win PTO Supported Husky Tri

Monday 01 March 2021

This weekend saw the first PTO Supported race of 2021 as PTO Professionals took to the start line of the Shimano Husky Triathlon with Ellie Salthouse and Simon Hearn proving themselves the best down under by taking the Australian Long Course Championships in Huskisson.

With the PTO putting up an extra $20,000 in prize money, giving a total purse of $35,000, the event courted one of its strongest fields ever.

"The PTO couldn’t have come along at a better time," said Tim Reed, 2016 Ironman 70.3 World Champion. "It truly is an organisation that represents all of us and has our best interests at heart. It’s just fantastic that races like Husky can get involved with the PTO… I think the future’s pretty bright for pros, honestly because of the PTO."

The officials’ call to allow wetsuits made little difference to swim predictions for the men, with Australia-based Kiwi, Trent Thorpe, the favourite to string things out through the water with his sub-four-minute 400m pedigree.

So it proved to be with the New Zealander quickly breaking away from a class field including Tim Reed (PTO #31), recent up-and-coming Hell Of The West Triathlon first and second place-getters Steve McKenna (PTO #58) and Simon Hearn, Sunshine Coast Marathon winner Caleb Noble and regular 70.3 podium-getter Tim Van Berkel (PTO #39).

Thorpe put in a fast pace over the two-lap swim giving him a 37-second advantage to McKenna out the water. A wire-to-wire win wasn’t to be for Thorpe as he was soon joined by a large group of chasers. From there, the athletes tackled the rural, undulating course in a surging paceline. The front rotated but no-one delivered the knockout power needed to go solo and create some distance ahead of the run.

Van Berkel led into T2 but it was Reed’s sockless transition that saw him lead onto the half marathon. Noble reacted fast, chasing the former world champ down at a savage pace to take the lead by 1km in.

Noble created some separation early on with McKenna moving up into second, Hearn in third and Reed in fourth. By 10km, Noble had an 18-second lead but Hearn was soon cruising past to take first while Reed moved up to McKenna’s shoulder. Hearn wasted no time having secured the race lead and pushed ahead to a 30-second buffer over the next few kilometres.

Reed’s experienced pacing saw him overtake Noble into second with around 5km to go. Hearn stayed cool despite the pressure from his race-hardened compatriot and took the tape in 3:48:27 and the day’s fastest run split (1:13:10) to become the Australian Long Course Champion.

Reed came home in second, just 39-seconds back and Noble hung on for third in 3:49:31. Further back, Steve McKenna took fourth just ahead of Van Berkel in fifth.

"I was just trying to do my best race," said Hearn. "The bike was funny… It was a big pack and guys were just surging and then it would be really easy and then surging… It wasn’t necessarily an easy bike because it wasn’t steady at all and the bike course is a bit bumpy and keeps you honest.

"I knew it was going to be hot on the run and these guys were dropping me at the start… I was doing 3:05 per k, so I just thought, ‘if they can hold that, then good on them!’

"I felt good until probably 15k and then I think I had about 30 seconds on Tim [Reed] who’d passed Caleb by that stage. The last 2k I was hurting really bad, but I’m really proud of my effort today and really happy with the result."

Women’s Race

The women’s field promised a three-way battle between Ellie Salthouse (PTO World #21), returning mum Annabel Luxford and Australia-based Kiwi Amelia Watkinson (PTO World #18).

Salthouse led from the gun in an utterly controlled performance, exiting the water first in 24:55 with Luxford on her heels. The pair got quickly onto the bike course while Watkinson finished the swim just behind Grace Thek, 1:20 down on the leaders.

Looking strong and comfortable, Salthouse led the women’s race throughout the 90km course with Luxford close behind. By 30km, the duo had a lead of 1:30 to Watkinson which continued to grow until the last 10km of the ride when the Kiwi pulled her deficit back from 2:08 to 1:51.

Salthouse entered T2 first, Luxford about 15 seconds back but like Reed in the men’s race, a no-socks transition saw them start the half marathon together. Unable to match Salthouse’s pace, Luxford watched the lead to her countrywoman grow to 36 seconds by 2.5km and 1:15 by 10km.

Meanwhile, Watkinson was beginning to reel in Luxford, cutting the gap to 40 seconds by halfway and then making the pass a few kilometres later.

Looking imperious, Salthouse didn’t falter for a second, showing her class to cross the line in 4:09:59 with a 1:22:13 run that was six seconds faster than Watkinson’s effort. The Kiwi finished in 4:11:54 – 1:55 back – with Luxford completing the podium in 4:14:27.

"I was super stoked with that. My aim was to lead wire to wire and I did just that today so yeah, really happy with how I performed. I would’ve liked a bit of a faster run but I burnt my matches a little bit on the bike course today and didn’t have a lot left.

"I knew the last 5k I had to find something because I knew Amelia was catching me at a very quick rate so I managed to pick up the pace a little bit in the last 5k to bring it home.

"We couldn’t be more grateful as professional athletes. The PTO keep us doing what we love and able to keep continuing it as a job so yeah, we’re very grateful and very lucky to have races going ahead here in Australia. I’m really looking forward to the Collins Cup later this year and then Daytona in December."

ELITE MALE
1 Simon Hearn 3:48:28
2 Tim Reed +0:39
3 Caleb Noble +1:03
4 Steve McKenna +3:00
5 Tim Berkel +3:18

ELITE FEMALE
1 Ellie Salthouse 4:09:59
2 Amelia Watkinson +1:54
3 Annabel Luxford +4:28
4 Grace Thek +10:31
5 Courtney Gilfillan +15:20

P.T.O. (Photo: Korupt Media)


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