Early on Saturday morning, when the temperature was already uncomfortably hot, Kelly Watson had a “really good” training run in taking out back-to-back Gunnedah Australia Day Triathlon women’s titles.
The Gunnedah mother-of-three finished second overall, behind Daniel Nash of Tamworth. Watson’s 61-year-old mentor, John Hickey, was the second male finisher – 42 seconds behind her.
The annual event consisted of a 300 metre swim in the Memorial Pool, followed by a 10 kilometre bike and a 4km run in the vicinity of the pool. Nash clocked 39 minutes and 13 seconds in winning the race for the second time, while Watson and Hickey clocked 39:24sec and 40:06sec.
Watson said: “It was a really good training day today. I was really happy to have a really hard hitout, and it was really hard. It’s very hilly this course.”
For Watson, Saturday’s race was a continuation of a highly successful association with the Olympic sport that began in 2011, when she gave birth to her second child. She already had a solid swimming and running background.
“I took it up just to build a bit of fitness and just to have a bit of a hobby and outlet – and yeah, I got hooked on it,” she said.
Watson finished ninth in the sprint race at the world championships (35 to 39-year age group) on the Gold Coast last year.
She will contest the state title at Coffs Harbour in March, followed by the nationals and then the world championships. She finished third in the sprint at the nationals last year.
When she started triathlon, her focus was half-ironman. But when Hickey asked her if she wanted to be good at the sport and she said yes, her focus shifted to the sprint distance (750m swim, 20km bike and 5km run).
She laughed when it was put to her that triathlon had become an obsession for her. “I guess you could say that. I thoroughly enjoy it.”
“Of course I’d love to be at the pointy end of the field and be on the podium [in major events this year],” she added. “That’s the dream – see what happens and who turns up.
On Saturday, Sam Jones was third in the men’s race (42:17sec). While Lauren Ferguson and Jess McDonald were equal second in the women’s race (43:38sec), with Joey Sullivan third (45:15sec).
There were 24 male competitors and seven female competitors.