True to predictions, it was the Australian professional Ben Allen who took the first ever 32Gi Eastbourne Triathlon title in a time of 1:09:17. Allen was joined on the top step of the podium by fiancé and fellow elite triathlete Jacqui Slack, who won the women’s race in 1:20:00.
The 600m sea swim kicked off the event and the strong tides meant local talent Harrison Rolls-King would use all of his course knowledge to come out the water first with the seven-time aquathlon world-champ Richard Stannard.
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Stannard would DNF at this point with an ankle injury, leaving the crowds to be thrilled by the emergence of local lad Rolls-King leading the race.
After a tough 25km bike leg that took in the stunning surroundings of the South Downs National Park and Eastbourne, Allen would finish the bike with a slim lead ahead of a new threat; another local triathlete Jamie Bedwell who, at just 19, was showing what a talent he was by pushing Allen all the way and heading out onto the run to rapturous applause with the lead.
The tough run favoured Allen and as he descended the Beachy Head hill, he would be able to reclaim the lead in a decisive move and run on for the victory.
In the women’s race, Jacqui Slack had a more familiar rival as the reigning European Aquathlon Champion, Hannah Kitchen, led from the front for much of the race. As the event wore on, Slack would use her experience, fitness and determination to knock that lead down until mid-way through the run, when the pole position changed hands and it was Slack who came away with the trophy.
Of course it is not just all about the elites, and 151 athletes completed the 32Gi Eastbourne Triathlon for the first time. Many were taking part in their first ever triathlon event, including 75-year-old Eastbourne resident Samuel Gray, who said: “The event had fantastic organisation, all the team and marshals were very friendly and I’m grateful to have taken part.”
The particpants, their families, friend and spectators part enjoyed the race village, complete with music, quality food, free massage and shiatsu treatments and much more.
The 32Gi Eastbourne Triathlon hopes to return to the sporting calendar next year with a race date soon to be announced.