Atkinson gets his Noosa trifecta
Australia’s Courtney Atkinson has capped off his season with a win and installed himself as the new “king” of Noosa, while Switzerland’s Caroline Steffen claimed her first major victory in her new adopted home at the Noosa Triathlon over the 1.5km swim, 40km cycle and 10km run at the weekend.
An appreciative crowd turned out to see Atkinson win his third successive title, only the second man to do so behind the great Craig Walton, who fell short of his goal in claiming a seventh title at the weekend, eventually finishing 12th after back cramping hampered his run leg.
“For me to win this race I need to have that awesome swim-bike combination ... without that I’m not going to win on the day,” Walton said before the event.
“I didn’t feel good from the get go. Nothing felt right out there ... it was all hard work.
“But I don’t want to make excuses. Courtney has won three in a row now and I’m really happy for him and he’s taking over Noosa now.”
New Zealand’s Kris Gemmell recorded his best Noosa performance to finish second, just not having the leg speed to keep up with Atkinson, but good enough to keep ahead of surprise packet Peter Kerr, who picked up third place in a strong field.
Once out on to the run, Atkinson made short work of hauling in the leaders and was in a class of his own, running away with a comfortable win.
“There was probably more anxiety today than in the previous two years because of the competitors I had to race against,” said Atkinson.
“This was actually difficult for me because, since Craig’s retired, at times, he’s helped me and I’d call him a bit of a mentor who has pointed me back in the right direction.
“It was always going to be a tough race with Craig being back and unknown, and I knew Chris would be firing.
“My tactics were ideally to get rid of Kris (Gemmell). Noosa is too fun to battle someone in a sprint finish. If you win you want to enjoy it here. It’s a great place.
“At the 3km mark I thought ‘help’, I’m going to pay for this.
“I thought if I could get away it might just play with their heads.”
The performance of the “Swiss Miss” was all the more impressive given she finished second at the World Ironman Championships in Hawaii just three weeks ago.
“I’m very surprised and very proud to come first. It was really hard, especially on the run and in the last 1km,” said Steffen.
“After Ironman I did nothing for one week and then I started to pick things up and have been enjoying the last three weeks and focused on getting ready for this race.”
Nineteen-year-old, Ashleigh Gentle made a successful step up, claiming second place after a blistering run leg to finish just four seconds behind Steffen, while New Zealand’s Nicky Samuels put in a solid performance to claim the final podium position.
Samuels led the field out of the water, followed by Amy Roberts, Olympian Maxine Seear and Emma Jackson.