Australian stars Ellie Salthouse and Simon Hearn took the leading roles as a world-class field battled it out at the PTO-backed Big Husky Triathlon on Sunday.
PTO World Ranked #21 Salthouse showcased her all-round ability by leading from start to finish in the women’s race, taking control on the run after a close battle with Annabel Luxford in the water and on the bike.
Meanwhile a blistering run from Hearn (1:13:11) saw him claim victory in the men’s race, beating Tim Reed by 39 seconds and Caleb Noble by just over a minute in third.
It’s Salthouse all the way
The 27-year-old Salthouse (24:56) and Luxford (24:57) led out of the water and opened up a gap of around a minute from PTO ranked #18 Watkinson (26:17) and Grace Thek (26:14).
The leading pair extended their advantage over third-place Watkinson on the bike leg, adding another 20 seconds to their advantage.
At this point the top three were well clear of the chasing pack, and the only question was which order they would come home.
Salthouse scampered away from Luxford in the early stages of the run, while Watkinson matched the leader’s pace to rein in Annabel, passing her on the second loop of the run.
Ellie had timed her race perfectly and produced the second fastest run leg of the entire field behind Kylie Simpson, to go with the fastest swim and bike legs in what was a dominant display.
She said afterwards: “My aim was to lead wire-to-wire and I did just that today so I’m 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 and didn’t have a lot left for the run – but had enough to hold off a barnstorming Amelia.
“I knew in the last 5k that I had to find something because she was catching me at a very quick rate, so I managed to pick it up late to bring it home.”
In the men’s race, New Zealander Trent Thorpe (22:35) led out of the water by more than half a minute from his nearest rivals Steve McKenna (23:12) and Lee Anderson (23:15).
Tim Van Berkel (courtesy of a 2:08:23 bike split) held sway out of T2 though, with Tim Reed (2:08:39) three seconds behind. The top 10 at this stage were covered by only 11 seconds – including eventual winner Hearn as well as McKenna and Noble.
Hearn’s big finish
Noble soon hit the front on the run, with McKenna close behind. The pair were unable to maintain a relentless early pace though, allowing Hearn to take the lead en route to a superb victory.
Speaking after the race, Simon said: “It (Big Husky) was one of my first professional races in 2019 and I certainly got a taste of it that day although it wasn’t as big a field.
“I knew it was going to be hot on the run and these guys were dropping me at the start doing 3:05 per km.
“I thought if they can hold that then good on them. I just kinda ran my pace after about 10km I passed Steve and then Caleb about 14km in.”
Reed meanwhile was delighted to finish second, despite nursing a slight injury.
“It was great, I felt awesome during the swim. The bike felt great but it’s such a hard course with so many turns and quite busy, so I really wanted to get away on the bike.
“I wasn’t that confident on my run as I’ve been managing an injury for a while, but it just didn’t work out.
“I had to just play with what I had left so I’m delighted with second place.”
Collins Cup boost for Husky stars
Prior to the race both Salthouse and Watkinson sat just outside the automatic qualification spots for Team International, fifth and sixth in the standings respectively.
On the men’s side, Reed did his chances no harm when finishing second. He is currently ninth in the PTO qualification standings for Team International.
Noble, McKenna and Van Berkel also advanced their claims for the landmark event in Šamorín in August.
Men’s Race Podium
1. Simon Hearn (AUS) – (3:48:28)
2. Tim Reed (AUS) – (3:49:07)
3. Caleb Noble (AUS) – (3:49:32)
Women’s Race Podium
1. Ellie Salthouse (AUS) – (4:10:00)
2. Amelia Watkinson (NZ) – (4:11:55)
3. Annabel Luxford (AUS) – (4:14:28)
You can watch how the race unfolded on the PTO YouTube channel