The 29-year-old New Zealander Watkinson (#19 in the PTO World Rankings) produced a tremendous bike split to take control in Queensland, and never looked back as she roared to victory in a time of 3:34:28.
It was the ideal way to continue Watkinson’s preparation for the PTO 2020 Championship at CHALLENGEDAYTONA® on December 6.
At the line, she was more than seven minutes clear of Chilean Barbara Riveros (3:41:55), with another Daytona invitee – Australia’s Ellie Salthouse – close behind in third.
Salthouse had led out of T1 in her first race in some 13 months, but she was then passed on the bike by the charging Watkinson. Ellie really began to struggle on the run, stopping dramatically before then recovering to hang onto the final podium spot.
Aussie McKenna produced the second quickest bike split of the day in the men’s race en route to glory.
The 29-year-old was fastest out of T1 and really capitalised on the bike with a time (1:50:53) which was bettered only by seventh-place man Lachlan Kerin.
At the finish line, McKenna was just under two minutes clear of the field. Simon Hearn and Caleb Noble both made up ground on the run to claim the second and third podium spots.
Further down the field, Tim Reed endured gear issues on the bike but battled on to claim fifth after a dramatic sprint finish with Eddie Vinning. Tim Van Berkel though was a DNF, struggling with illness after the swim.
Cunnama nets home win as Pallant scores for Britain
Another PTO-supported event took place over the weekend with the People’s Triathlon in Port Elizabeth, South Africa.
The 37-year-old, recently selected as a wild card for the PTO 2020 Championship, was strongest in the closing stages as he dropped fellow Daytona hopeful Trautman following a shoulder-to-shoulder battle for much of the 21k run.
Cunnama, who described the success as “awesome” but was not happy with his performance in the swim, said: “Matt just stayed on my shoulder the whole run. Only in last few hundred metres was I able to get a bit of a gap. Definitely not a relaxed, comfortable win. But a win’s a win.”
Pallant, fellow Daytona hopeful Annah Watkinson and Jade Nicole dominated the women’s race from start to finish. It was the British star though who held off the home contingent to win in a time of 4:12:35.
Nicole was fastest into T2 but the 31-year-old Pallant was the first to exit and she produced the fastest run of the day to ensure victory.
Both weekend events featured prize pools boosted by the PTO, to the tune of $15,000 each. The victorious Pallant was quick to emphasise the importance of that backing in these troubled times.
“I think without the PTO, I don’t think everyone would come here for this race. It’s just brought a really quality field together and given us a fantastic professional race opportunity. It’s massive for us and it’s keeping things going in a hard time for the sport.”
The countdown now ramps up to the eagerly-awaited PTO 2020 Championship on December 6, with warm-up events fast running out for the elite athletes preparing to take part.
The landmark event in Florida will see a star-studded field of 120 athletes competing for a record purse of $1,150,000.