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Ben powers to Australia Day Aquathon honours

Australia Day Aquathon Bargara
Bargara Triathlon Club Australia Day Aquathon sprint winner Ben Rudd is chased by sprint teams runner Ben Metcalfe with the finish line in sight yesterday.

Bundaberg 14-year-old Ben Rudd held out training partner Joey Vella and defending champion Ben Artup to claim the Sprint division at Bargara Triathlon Club’s Australia Day Aquathon yesterday.

A field of 28 lined up at Norville Park for the event which incorporated five legs, – 3 km run/400 m swim/3 km run/400 m swim/2 km run in hot conditions.

The vastly experienced Ben Artup, at the age of 46, led for the first two legs but, with age on their side, Ben, and Joey, 15, opened a break at the end of the second 3km run leg.

The pair was level-pegging at the end of the second swim, before Ben Rudd gradually drew away in the 2km run home, finishing in a slick 46 min 18 sec, to beat Joey by 45.1 seconds, with Ben Artup, who competed in the sport professionally in the 1990s, coming in third a further 24 seconds behind.

Ben Rudd was challenged by Teams runner Ben Metcalfe of Hervey Bay leading into the finish, but he dug deep and, fittingly, he also beat the visitor home by 1.8 seconds.

Ben Rudd, who started year 10 at St Luke’s Anglican School today, said he started the sport three years ago, and is part of local triathlon champion Rebecca Jenner’s Next Jenner-ation program.

He said he had won several Bargara club events and gone “OK” at other competitions around Queensland, and his focus was now on next month's State Triathlon Championships in Hervey Bay where he will compete in the intermediate division, with a 500m swim, 15km bike ride and 4km run.

His goal is to again make the Queensland team after he gained selection last year but did not get to compete at the nationals because they were cancelled due to Covid-19.

Ben Metcalfe’s team swimmer, his son Xavier, put in two outstanding efforts, and they were big winners of the Sprint Teams category, finishing more than five minutes ahead of runners-up Turtle and the Hare.

Ben Rudd’s younger brother Chris, 13, also did brilliantly to claim fifth place in a time of 51:58.6, while Joey’s mother, Allison, was the first female home in eighth position overall with a good 54:20.9.

The whole Artup family competed on the day with Ben’s wife Renee placing a very creditable 18th in 58:58.1, and their three children Sam (9), Peita (7) and Sam’s twin Hugo, claiming the trifecta from 28 competitors in the shorter Turtles short-course event for 7-12-year-olds made up of a 1km run, 100m swim and 50m run, in times of 8:07.1, 9:45.0 and 9:51.3, respectively.

Another of Ben Metcalfe’s children, Sebastian, proved too strong in the Turtles long-course division, clocking 14:20.0, to edge out another Vella family member, 10-year-old Vinnie, by a mere 6.9 seconds.

Bundaberg’s Lachlan Wyllie was third in 15:08.1 with another local, Cassidy Parsons, the first female to finish, grabbing fourth overall in 16:23.4.

Locals also filled the top three placings for the Aquathon from 14 competitors in the Give it a Try for ages 13 years-plus, with Levi Marsman crossing first in 32:22.6 ahead of fellow 12-year-old Max O’Brien (34:05.9) and first female Maya McCrystal, 14, in 35:59.3.

‘Sisters with Blisters’ took out the Give it a Try teams event.

Six-year-old Silas Wang triumphed in the Hatchlings category for 2-6-year-olds, made up of a 40m wade/swim and 200m run, in a time of 2:04.3, with Greta Ing second in 2:42.8.

All six racers were warmly applauded, especially the two three-year-olds, Charlotte Watson and Sam Austin, whose father Troy has done a great job in his first season as the Bargara club’s president.

Following the Aquathon, the club’s next event will be a sprint triathlon on March 7, followed by a Bundaberg Road Runners and Tri Running event on April 18.

Then follows a double-header on the Labour Day long weekend on May 1-2, with the Pub to Club race on the Saturday and Olympic Distance Triathlon on the Sunday.

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