There can be only ONE!
The Barambah Organics Hell of the West Triathlon is nearly here and a cracking squad of the best triathletes from Australia and abroad will battle it out to take the title of Hell of the West Champion 2020 in Goondiwindi on Sunday Feb 9th. And with Hell of the West now being part of the international Spirit of Triathlon Race Series there is more on the line than usual.
The professional/elite race will start at first light (5am) on the banks of the Macintyre River. The atmosphere at the start line is one of eerie calmness as these finely tuned athletes conserve as much energy as possible before the gun goes off to start the triathlon known as Queensland's toughest. It’s a murky 2km swim, flat and windy 80km bike and hot as hell 20km run, its the HELL OF THE WEST.
This year with multiple winners and race record holders Sarah Crowley and Max Neumann not returning to defend their titles, the race to win this iconic triathlon and the $2500 first place prize money is wide open. The HOTW 2020 professional field has a very international feel, with athletes from Europe, North and South America and of course our NZ cousins from across the ditch, all converging on the small country town of Goondiwindi to see if they can etch their name on the Honour Board that has some of the biggest names in triathlon stamped as past winners. Legends and world champions like Lisa Bentley, Pete Jacobs and Tim Reed have all won this event in the past.
The favourite tag for the Female title will be worn by Dutch athlete Els Visser, who was runner-up to 6xHOTW winner Sarah Crowley in 2019. Els has packed a lot into her life, she is a shipwreck surviver, a Doctor and has a PhD in surgery. Since setting her sights on being a professional triathlete Els has improving rapidly, winning and placing in many ironman events around the world and last October finished 16th against the best in the world at the Ironman World Championship, Kona Hawaii. But, Els won't have it all her own way with a large group of elite women lining up to stop her.
Some of the other female contenders include Meredith Hill of sunshine coast who is a proven performer in the heat, winning a very hot Challenge China last year and Renee Kiley, who has gone from successful business owner to aspiring professional triathlete with great results domestically and internationally. It will also be interesting to see how young guns Sidney Andrews of the USA and Kimberley McKinney of Ipswich go at their first crack at HOTW.
There will be one girl they will all be chasing from the start, super fish and HOTW regular Holly Grice, Holly is a young athlete that is one of the best swimmers in the sport and no one will be able to stick with her in the swim, so it will be a case of catch Holly if you can on the bike and run!!. The strength and weekness of these athlete's won't be a surprise to each other as most of them train with the Hills District squad based in Brisbane under the expert coaching of Cameron Watt. Coach Cam certainly knows what it take to win the HOTW, winning the title himself back in 2005, so expect these women to be ready to race.
On the mens side the dark horse will be Hills District athlete Trent Thorpe of New Zealand. HOTW will be Trent's first race at this distance, having concentrated on the Olympic format with the NZ ITU teams in recent years. ITU olympic athletes bring the speed of short course racing to long distance triathlon, and it will be interesting to see if Trent has the endurance to hold his speed over double the distance he is used to racing. Trent will be up against the very experienced and 2 x HOTW winner Sam Betten. Sam is also a former ITU racer but has been a professional triathlete racing around the world for the last decade. Sam is strong in all legs and if he is on form, it will be hard to see anyone stopping Sam becoming the first male athlete to win three HOTW titles.
While Trent and Sam will definitely figure in the outcome, there are others to keep eye on, including Frazer Walsh of Victoria who was 2nd at HOTW 2019, 2019 Hundy 100 winner Simon Hearn, Ironman 70.3 Sydney winner and HOTW first timer David Mainwaring and former Australian swim team member turned pro triathlete Alexander Polizzi. All these athletes have the potential to be on the top step come Feb 9th so it promises to be one of the closest races in recent history.
Outside these favourites there are always others that will figure, and one complete unknown to Goondiwindi crowd is Peruvian athlete Andres Chirinos. Andres is in Australia with girlfriend and triathlon super star Ellie Salthouse, so it will be great to show Andres some of the Aussie countryside. For the local crowd there are a couple of young guns to cheer on, with both Dom Churchett of Toowoomba Tri Club and Nathan Josefski of Goondiwindi Tri Club lining up for their second crack at the elite field.
Following the professionals over 400 age group individuals and team competitors will also tackle this brutal course to see if they have what it takes to finish this test of endurance. Some of these competitors will be racing for Age Group honors and Triathlon Queenland Nissan State Series Points, but most of all it is purely to prove to themselves they have want it takes to get across the finish line. To see who takes out the Barambah Organics Hell of the West title in 2020 be at the Goondiwindi Town Park at 8am Feb 9th, to watch the winner cross the line, then stay and cheer on the everyday athletes as they try and complete what is known as Queensland's Toughest Triathlon.
Also don't forget as part of the new 'Festival of Hell', the GTH+ Super Saturday events are on the day before the big event. These events will start at 7:00am with the Gundy Inferno (5km and 10km charity run), followed by the Firestarter Triathlon and finishing with the Hell Kids Triathlon.
So what the hell are you waiting for? Entries for all events at STILL open. ENTER NOW.