It has been a long 12 months wait but Collaroy’s Kendrick Louis and Mooloolaba’s Kelly-Ann Perkins have won their way back into the Kellogg’s Nutri-Grain Ironman Series at Noosa Heads today with resounding wins in the Series Trial.
Louis revealed he has spent the last 10 weeks training on the Sunshine Coast – leaving his family and work commitments to concentrate on making this year’s Series.
And the hard yards paid off when he led from the opening ski leg and dominated a determined, star-studded field, all chasing a top seven finish and a confirmed place in this season’s professional Series.
“I have sacrificed a lot to make this Series and I have to thank my family, my girlfriend and my sponsors for supporting me while I have been away training under Michael King,” said Louis.
“Even though I don’t mind the rain, the cold and the wind like it was here on Saturday, I did wake up this morning to a sunny day and wondered whether this would be my day.
“I wanted to make sure I left nothing to chance and to make sure I got off to a good start and didn’t get into any trouble on the way through.
“I also knew in the back of my mind that I had done the work and dedicated myself over the past 10 weeks.
“But making the Series is only the beginning – I now have to take my training up a notch if I am to match it with the big boys.”
Perkins, who had suffered a stress fracture in her knee, has also dedicated herself to training under Mooloolaba Head Coach King.
“The move to Michael’s squad has been fantastic – to be there training alongside girls who have already made the Series like Alicia Marriott and Gemma Newbiggin and others like Danielle Allen and Teisha Jenkins, who were trying to make it, has made all the difference,” said Perkins.
“After missing out last year, I was determined to do everything I could to make this year’s Series.”
The racing was certainly willing and there was also an exciting atmosphere on the beach as some of the sport’s former stars rubbed shoulders with those athletes trialling for the first time and others who missed the cut in last season’s Series and were coming back again.
The men’s final cut saw Northcliffe’s vastly improved and stronger ski paddler Cory Hill in the thick of the action alongside Tugun’s Sam Hamilton, chasing a return to the Series.
The two outstanding all-rounders secured their places behind the impressive Louis, with two more Gold Coasters, North Burleigh training partners Thomas Trembath and James Stewart snatching fourth and fifth ahead of Sunshine Coasters Alex Tibbits (Mooloolaba) and Corey Jones (Metropolitan Caloundra), backing up from last year’s Series.
There was no doubting that Kurrawa coach and former Ironman star Phil Clayton, chasing a return to the glory days was the crowd favourite.
After an epic final swim leg, he had some work to do to secure automatic qualification on the final 300m run and as hard a tried his 34-year-old legs could not quite get him to the line in the top seven.
But a solid 10th placing, just behind eighth-placed Australian under 19 champion Tanyn Lyndon and Queenscliff’s consistent Tom Atkinson, will put the 2000 World Champion and reigning Australian open belt race champion well and truly in the “wildcard picture.”
Event organisers have the option of three wildcards and Clayton’s comeback and his popularity will be hard to overlook.
The women’s race saw Jordan Mercer from host club Noosa open up a commanding lead in the ski-run-board-run opening legs before Candice Falzon – last after the first ski leg, worked her way through the entire field to lead coming out of the final swim.
Falzon produced an outstanding race to hang on to fourth after the 300m run which saw Perkins, with last year’s youngest qualifier Danielle Allen finishing second ahead of North Burleigh’s evergreen Alyce Bennett, with Mercer fifth.
The other two qualifiers, the never-say-die Tara Coleman from Maroubra and rookie Teisha Jenkins (Mooloolaba) rounded out the top seven, just ahead of Harriet Brown (Northcliffe) and comeback queen Kirsty Holmes (Kawana) who must also be line to join Hayley Bateup (Kurrawa) in the chase for wildcards.
It was a memorable day for Jenkins, who at 16, will be the baby of the Series – only having started ski paddling earlier this year.
“Believe it or not that was my first ever Ironwoman race – I only started serious ski paddling earlier this year,” said Jenkins.
“I didn’t even know whether I was going to enter but when I did people must have thought I was crazy.”
Jenkins admitted she didn’t even know the names of the girls she was chasing down when she hit the final run leg in eighth place.
“I didn’t know who they were or where I was placed and even when I crossed the line I wasn’t sure if I had even made the cut or not – I had to ask the officials whether I had made it or not,” said Jenkins, overwhelmed with her performance.
The youngster will now be rubbing shoulders with the likes of Courtney Hancock, Liz Pluimers and Kristyl Smith – some of the biggest names in Ironwoman racing when the Series begins at Surfers Paradise on December 18.
1. Kendrick Louis – Collaroy
2. Sam Hamilton – Tugun
3. Cory Hill – Northcliffe
4. Thomas Trembath – North Burleigh
5. James Stewart – North Burleigh
6. Alex Tibbits – Mooloolaba
7. Corey Jones – Met Caloundra
8. Tanyn Lyndon – Northcliffe
9. Tom Atkinson – Queenscliff
10. Phil Clayton – Kurrawa
11. Hayden White – Warilla Barrack Pt
12. Chris Moors – Kurrawa
13. Tim Peach – Tugun
14. Josh Minogue – Mooloolaba
15. Andrew Mosel – Scarboro
16. Sean Kelly – Tugun
17. Jack Hansen – Mooloolaba
18. Mark Simpson – Cronulla
19. Wade Krieger – BHMP
20. Jake Nicholson – Northcliffe
21. Dane Farrell – Wanda
22. Matt Bevilacqua – Mooloolaba
1. Kelly-Anne Perkins – Mooloolaba
2. Danielle Allen – Mooloolaba
3. Alyce Bennett – North Burleigh
4. Candice Falzon – Manly
5. Jordan Mercer – Noosa Heads
6. Tara Coleman – Maroubra
7. Teisha Jenkins – Mooloolaba
8. Harriet Brown – Northcliffe
9. Kirsty Holmes – Kawana Waters
10. Nikki Chapman – Swansea Belmont
11. Tenile Devine – Tallebudgera
12. Aimee Berridge – Mooloolaba
13. Sheree Merryful – North Burleigh
14. Maddy Dunn – Mooloolaba
15. Tatum Lawler – Maroubra
16. Hannah Minogue – Bulli
17. Devon Halligan – Manly
18. Katie Graham – Northcliffe
19. Tahnee Fleming – Wanda
20. Maddison Prior – Warilla-Barrack Point