Sport

Mooloolaba Triathlon follows Noosa's footsteps

Action from the inaugural Mooloolaba Triathlon, staged on May 16, 1993.
Action from the inaugural Mooloolaba Triathlon, staged on May 16, 1993. SCD archive

BRAD Beven is still waiting for his Harley ride.

He was never supposed to be competing as an individual at the inaugural Mooloolaba Triathlon in 1993, but a promise from Benny Pike saw him toe the start line.

Brad (pictured right on Alexandra Headland hill) was only in Mooloolaba to celebrate the new event and take part in a team, which was to include the Coast's own Australian swimming golden girl Lisa Curry.

Lucky he did, the then 25-year-old delivered a brilliant race to claim the title.

That was in the midst of Brad's rise to triathlon royalty.

Inducted into the Triathlon Australia Hall of Fame in 2013, the Mooloolaba win was at the beginning of his World Cup Series dominance, which saw him claim the title four years in succession from 1992-1995.

"Benny Pike talked me into coming to do a relay in the bike leg, then I saw these guys hooning around on Harleys and I said 'I wouldn't mind a go at one of those',” he said.

"He said, 'If you do the race I'll promise you a Harley ride,' because he was trying to talk me into it the whole time.

"Back then I would really try and get my head around a race before doing it and I had never thought of doing this one.

"I ended up having a good race so it all worked out for the best but I'm still waiting for my Harley ride.”

Mooloolaba was launched off the back of a successful decade of triathlon at Noosa.

Garth Prowd was at the helm of race organiser USM Events at the time, and said it was designed to "book-end” the season - with Noosa in October and Mooloolaba in May.

With the backing of committee members such as Rod Forester, Ken Neil, Bill Freeman and Doug Jewry, it started a dynasty which has lasted 25 years when next year's triathlon is staged in March.

The first event had its teething issues, with the advertised Olympic-distance shortened on the bike due to police restrictions.

With the swim off main beach, the ride was five laps onto the Sunshine Mwy (turning left toward Kawana) and looping back through the esplanade, while the run was three laps between Mooloolaba and Alexandra Headland surf clubs.

Transition stretched from where the Loo with a View now stands, down to the car park near the surf club.

With about 1000 athletes in the first year, the cycle format had to be abandoned in future years due to course congestion.

There was some impressive quality among the elites in the inaugural race, with Brad up against the likes of Simon Knowles, Miles Stewart, Craig Sly and Darren Wood from the US.

The women's race was won by Alexandra Laws from Natalya Orchid and Jackie Gallagher.

"There was good community support for it. Noosa had proved triathlon was a sport suitable and beneficial to the Coast,” Garth said.

"By '95, Noosa was a world cup race, and then Mooloolaba took the mantle.

"Noosa and Mooloolaba still stand apart. Both have significantly high numbers of team entries, which is very unusual in Australia. Many people only do one triathlon once a year, and it's generally Mooloolaba or Noosa.”

From its inception, Mooloolaba played a pivotal role in laying the triathlon foundation in Australia.

Brad, now a coach based at the Gold Coast's Tallebudgera Valley, said the race quickly became renowned among the elites.

"I remember in 1997 it was national champs when Chris McCormack got second. We ran head-to-head for the whole run and bashing each other around.

"We got to the hill and he did this almighty sprint and I thought there was no way I could hang with him, but he blew up and I just got him with 200m to go,” he said.

"Chris went on to bigger and better things, but that was the breeding ground for some of the future leaders in the sport in Australia and all over the world.

"These were the formative years for a lot of us to go on to bigger and better things internationally.

"It's one of those iconic races now. Even then it was a great place to do well at and a great course.

"Mooloolaba has got a lot busier but the triathlon has coped with the larger numbers.”

Since 1999, the festival has hosted an ITU World Cup event that has been won by gold medallists, and world champions alike, but has only been in sprint-distance format since 2014.

Next year's festival will be held from March 10-12.

See more great multisport coverage here, in the September 21 edition of Sunshine Coast Multisport Mecca.

Topics:  cycling, mooloolaba triathlon, multisport, multisport mecca, triathlon


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