Photo by Graeme Gillmer

Perth’s Felicity Sheedy-Ryan claims her first 70.3 title in Busselton against an impressive list of athletes, including her Western Australian colleague, Kate Bevilaqua and Lisa Marangon, who finished second and third respectively. In our race preview we stated that if the weather conditions were favourable, we could expect some quick times. The white caps on the water suggested otherwise.

It was a choppy morning at the Busselton pier, which pushed the average swim time out an extra five minutes from last year. The start of the race definitely suited the stronger swimmers. Maragnon, who is known for her strong swim/bike was the first out of the chop in a 29:51 – the only female athlete on the day to break 30mins. She was then followed by Sheedy-Ryan and Bevilaqua, who were over one minute behind. Bevilaqua had been working on her swimming, and in tough conditions proved that it was paying off. Some impressive age group swimmers certainly coped well in the rough conditions. Anna Lee Hazell, Jade Turner and Kara Wright all swam under 31mins.

The bike course consisted of two laps, and with some strong riders amongst the field, it looked like Sheedy-Ryan would have to rely on her speedy run leg that she has from her short distance triathlons. It wasn’t long until Maragnon shook off Sheedy-Ryan on the bike. Bevilaqua moved into second place, and the top two women were getting pressure from renowned biker, Belinda Granger. At the half way mark, Maragnon still had a one minute lead over Bevilaqua, with Granger a further 16 seconds back. Coming back into town, Granger had stomped her way into second place, but Maragnon was still holding strong and produced the fastest bike split of the day – 2:20:07. Maragnon was into T2 first, followed by Granger 2:36 behind, and Bevilaqua hot on her heels. However, coming out of transition, Bevilaqua had snuck back into second place and was determined on hunting down Maragnon’s lead. Sheedy-Ryan had faded almost eight minutes back on the bike and had come into transititon in fifth place behind Michelle Wu, who was also a fierce runner.

Photo by Graeme Gillmer

The three lap run course made the rest of the day extremely spectator friendly, and the race that was unfolding was providing plenty of entertainment for the crowd. Maragnon was looking strong, but was losing time to Bevilaqua. Over the first 7kms, Bevilaqua had made up 1:18, and was on track to overtake Marangon if she kept her pace steady. Granger was slipping off the pace by the 7km mark, and Wu appeared to be struggling with form, later citing that the bike had hurt her “big time”, and stomach problems were affecting her run. Last year’s runner up, Sheedy-Ryan was on song though, and was storming through the first lap of the run at 3:34min/km pace. By the end of the first lap she had already overtaken Wu and had made up almost four minutes on the leader.

At the end of the second lap, Bevilaqua had moved into first position. However, the women were all looking over their shoulders for Sheedy-Ryan who was still moving her way through the field. Both Sheedy-Ryan and Wu had moved in front of Granger, with Sheedy-Ryan making up another three minutes on Bevilaqua.

In the stand out run performance of the day, Sheedy-Ryan exploded into first place by the end of the third lap, and crossed the line 52 seconds ahead of Bevilaqua. She posted the fastest female run time of the day, 1:20:23, and the seventh fastest run overall. Crossing the line in a total time of 4:21:27, Sheedy-Ryan claimed her very first 70.3 victory. Bevilaqua comfortably held onto second place, followed by Maragnon to complete the podium. After the top three had been confirmed, it was expected that Wu would come in fourth place, but in an unprecedented move, Granger pipped Wu at the post, winning a “sprint” finish, and crossing the line 11seconds ahead of her. Granger claimed that “after looking at my sprint on the video, I looked more like an out of control wilderbeast!” But hey, whatever gets you across the line!

Photo by Graeme Gillmer

Felicity Sheedy-Ryan – 4:21:27 (30:53, 2:27:03, 1:20:23)
Kate Bevilaqua – 4:22:19 (31:02, 2:21:29, 1:26:29)
Lisa Marangon – 4:24:46 (29:51, 2:20:07, 1:31:12)
Belinda Granger – 4:28:39 (31:25, 2:20:57, 1:32:17)
Michelle Wu – 4:28:50 (31:29, 2:22:33, 1:31:20)

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