GREG Farrell had seven operations in eight months after a serious bike crash threw his short-term triathlon career in the air.
Yesterday, the Point Cook athlete saluted in his first triathlon back, winning Warrnambool’s Olyfest in two hours, three minutes and 43 seconds.
The win came 12 months after Farrell finished second in the Olyfest’s big brother — the Sufferfest — and almost a year after he broke his thumb, wrist, elbow and shoulder and had cartilage removed from his knee when he fell off his bike.
Colin Davis (2.09.57) and Graham Tedoldi (2.16.46) filled the men’s Olyfest podium yesterday.
Farrell said his Olyfest win was a surprise, given his limited preparation.
The Olyfest consisted of a 1.5km swim in the Hopkins River, a 40km bike ride which took in Hopkins Point Road and a 10km run along the Warrnambool foreshore path.
“Not too long after the Sufferfest last year I had a bike crash and had seven operations in eight months,” Farrell said.
“The Olyfest was my first triathlon in almost a year. I haven’t done much running at all so I didn’t set too many expectations. At the turnaround point on the run I had a five-minute lead and thought, I still have the lead and can hold on for the last five kilometres.”
Farrell said he would return to Warrnambool next year and do the Sufferfest’s 2km swim, 80km ride and 20km run course.
“I hope to be able to do the long one. It is a really beautiful race and such a picturesque race,” he said.
“Dean (Picken) and his hordes of volunteers are amazing to put it on.
“I am very appreciative of their hospitality.”
Farrell, who dashed back to his hotel room to check out after taking out Olyfest, will fly to the United States in four weeks to tackle a number of half ironman courses.
Olyfest women’s winner Jillian McKenzie is no stranger to the Warrnambool course.
McKenzie, 48, grew up in Warrnambool and her parents Faye and Geoff Chenoweth still live in the area.
She won the Olyfest in two hours, 31 minutes and 27 seconds, ahead of Susan Pettigrew (2.31.59) and Kellie D’orsa (2.32.47).
“I am surprised. I had fun (last year) and thought I’d come back again,” McKenzie said.
“I won my age group last year but I’d had some injury leading into it.”
McKenzie said the overall win came as a surprise.“To be my age and be behind the official bike is the biggest buzz in my whole triathlon career,” she said.
“The last part of the hills on the run (were the hardest) and I was ready for that because last year somebody had said to me afterwards ‘that was a hard run’ and they said it is 4kms of hills. Even though it looks easy, it is quite undulating and I knew that would be the toughest part.”
McKenzie now lives on the Mornington Peninsula and does up to four triathlons a year.
“It is similar to here. It’s still coastal and not too busy city-wise and we enjoy that,” she said.
“There are lots of great training places like here.”