Gunnedah triathletes ready to take on the world

Pete Loveridge admitted he “couldn’t resist” a couple of surges as he warmed up for this week’s International Triathlon Union (UTI) World Championships on the Gold Coast by taking out Sunday’s Gunnedah Gallop.

Australian honours: Pete Loveridge and Kelly Watson will compete at the International Triathlon Union World Championships, which get underway on the Gold Coast on Thursday.

Australian honours: Pete Loveridge and Kelly Watson will compete at the International Triathlon Union World Championships, which get underway on the Gold Coast on Thursday.

Loveridge beat home Josh McRae by three seconds to continue his dominance of the annual event.

The triathlon champion will race in the sprint triathlon on Thursday and back up in standard (formerly Olympic) distance event on Sunday, and was conscious of trying to run a controlled race.

Which he for the most part did, although those competitive instincts did kick in a couple of times. 

“There were two uphill rises that run for a minute or two each. There were three of us together up until the first hill. I couldn’t resist,” he said.

“The gap I established on the hills I just tried to maintain that for that last 3km.”

He completed the 8km in 29.41mins which was admittedly a bit quicker than what he wanted to go.

Cath Murray was the first woman to finish while Harry Raymond won the 2km race from Mia Craker. 

Loveridge is happy with how his preparations have gone.

“My winter training I would describe as consistent. I’ve stayed reasonably healthy and I did the training I expected to do,” he said.

In recent years more focusing on half-ironmans, Loveridge said he is looking forward to the sprint.

For a few reasons it has been more the focus of his training.

Peter Loveridge powers to the finish line to win Sunday's Gunnedah Gallop. Photo: Samantha Newsam

Peter Loveridge powers to the finish line to win Sunday's Gunnedah Gallop. Photo: Samantha Newsam

“I’ve probably harnessed a bit more speed than endurance,” he said, adding that that certainly won’t go astray in the longer race.

After winning the national title for both distances in the 34-39-years Loveridge will step up to the 40-44-years division and is no stranger to the international stage.

It will be his fourth World Championships for the standard distance, although first for six years.

“Two years ago I did a World Championships over the half marathon distance,” he said.

“I’d like to hope to be competitive. Hopefully that will put me somewhere up the front.”

Partner Kelly Watson will join him in Australian colours, and will also race over both distances in what will be her first sprint or standard World Championships.

“I did the 70.3 World Championships back in 2013 in Las Vegas,” she said.

She will line up in the 35-39-years division and has been working hard in training with coach John Hickey.

“Hopefully it pays dividends,” she said.

Watson placed third in her age division at the national sprint titles, and Hickey expects her to do well. 

“I think the sprint will suit Kelly,” Hickey said.

Her goal is to be “the very best I can be on the day”.

“Hopefully that brings me to the pointy end of the field,” she added.

It is also about the experience as a whole.

“I want to embrace the atmosphere and the experience,” Watson said.

Hickey and wife Donna will also compete on the Gold Coast but will only race the sprint distance event.

They are both in the 60-64-years division, and are hoping to be somewhere around the top 10, although as Hickey said “you don’t know what the other countries will bring”.

Donna has a happy association with the Gold Coast. The last time the championships were held there she won the world title for her age over the sprint distance. 

Former Gunnedah triathlete Matt Fitzgerald is also part of the Australian team.