Sufferfest success sparks talk of carnival

SUFFERFEST event organiser Dean Picken believes the fast-growing triathlon could grow into a week-long carnival.

Picken said plans to grow the Triathlon Australia-sanctioned event were in place following its successful second running on Sunday.

“Having secured sponsorship for the next two years and having road closures for the next four years means we have established a weekend,” he said.

“It is the first weekend in March and that helps us focus on putting the race on.”

Picken believes Sufferfest and Olyfest — triathlons of varying distances — could be the drawcard events on a week-long calendar.

He said there was potential to include competitions such as adventure-type races and build it that way, while an all-abilities triathlon and a school section were included as Saturday competitions last weekend and had the potential to swell in numbers.

“We haven’t tapped into the local market as much as we can,” Picken said.

“It is good timing because football and netball clubs (are training) and we can reach out to them, do corporate challenges and reach out to businesses.

“Saturday is the key to our growth, the shorter distances and entry level.”

Picken said positive feedback for the event was overwhelming and praised his core team of 10 helpers, as well as the hundreds of volunteers.

He said Sufferfest had already built a reputation as a friendly and encouraging event and it was important that was maintained as it strived to establish itself on the triathlon calendar.

Sufferfest is a two-kilometre swim, 80km ride and 20km run, while Olyfest is a 1.5km swim, 40km ride and 10km run.

Seaford’s Tom Rodgers claimed the men’s Sufferfest title. Ballarat mother-of-three Emma O’Neill won the women’s section. Point Cook athlete Greg Farrell celebrated his comeback from a bike crash with a win in the Olyfest men’s section, while  former Warrnambool resident Jillian McKenzie collected the Olyfest women’s crown.

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